Stepniak & Park, one of the most common questions our
Daytona Beach divorce attorney receives is, “Does my child need a lawyer?” The answer: it depends.
If you and the other parent agree on
custody and visitation, your child doesn’t need an attorney. But if you and the other parent
disagree about such matters or you are worried about your child’s
safety due to child abuse or domestic violence, then you may want to ask
for a lawyer.
The court may appoint a lawyer to serve in the following three capacities
for the minor child:
A child attorney – A lawyer is hired to represent a minor child’s best interests,
which is decided by the child’s wishes. In other words, the best
wishes of a child are defined by the child. However, child attorneys are
rare since children are not always well-equipped to determine what is
in their best interests.
A child representative – While a child representative is a lawyer who is hired to represent
a minor child’s best interests, these interests are defined by the
child representative—not the child. They are given the same investigative
powers as a guardian ad litem in order to determine the safety and suitability
of the child’s environment. However, the child representative doesn’t
report his/her findings to the court, rather provide the divorcing parties
with a pre-trial memorandum of what they must do if the case experiences
A guardian ad litem – An attorney who will perform an investigation into the minor’s
child best interests and report his/her findings to the court. The guardian
ad litem will interview the child and parents, as well as investigate
the home environment to determine suitability. This attorney can be called
as a witness for cross-examination purposes.
So long as the legal representative is appointed by the court, a child
may be represented in a divorce by his/her own attorney.
Contact our Daytona Beach family law attorney at Stepniak & Park for more