In a court of law, most people have the option of representing themselves if they so choose. However, not everybody is capable of representing themselves, and many of those people also cannot hire their own attorney. Children fall into this category. In some cases, especially in cases of divorce, adoption, and other issues of family law, children need somebody to represent them. In that case, the judge may appoint somebody called an amicus attorney or attorney ad litem.
First of all, let’s take a minute to go over a few terms. An amicus attorney and attorney ad litem are two very similar positions. In fact, some people mistakenly use the terms interchangeably. However, these two positions are a bit different. Take the attorney ad litem, for example. “Ad litem” is a Latin term that means “for this lawsuit.” In this case, if a judge appoints an attorney ad litem, they are appointing an attorney specifically for your child. While this attorney is paid by either the court or the parties, the attorney effectively works for your child. They will represent and advocate for your child, speaking for your child’s needs in court.
Next, there’s the amicus attorney. “Amicus” is Latin for “friend.” In other words, an amicus attorney is essentially a friend of the court. This type of attorney works directly with the court, advocating for whatever solution they think would be in the child’s best interests. The difference, however, is the fact that an amicus attorney does not represent your child directly. Instead, this attorney will likely interview you, your spouse, your child, and several others to determine the best interest of the child.
Why Did the Court Appoint an Attorney for My Child?
If the court has appointed one of these types of attorneys for your child, it could mean several things. It does not mean that you are a bad parent. However, it may mean that you and your co-parent are unable to reach a solid agreement on your own. If that’s the case, then a neutral third party, like a court-appointed attorney, can help the court make an objective decision to benefit your child. There are also other factors that can be involved as well. For example, if your child is especially young and preverbal, having one of these attorneys can help when the child cannot express opinions. The attorneys may also get involved in especially complicated divorces. Whatever the case, they are always neutral third parties, and they always pursue solutions for your child’s well-being.
You and Your Amicus Attorney
What should you do if the court appoints an attorney for your child? It’s generally a good idea to have your attorney meet up with the amicus attorney or attorney ad litem. If you have not hired an attorney yet, look for one who is well-versed in family law. This way, your attorney will likely have experience in this area. If you need legal counsel for a divorce or other family law issue, call Moran Law today. We know that you want to do what is best for your child, and we are here to help you pursue the best solution.