Family law issues, especially divorce, can be emotionally and psychologically difficult, especially with children involved. When spouses are going through a split that may be particularly contentious and can’t come to agreement over decisions regarding their child, sometimes a best interest attorney is a fair alternative.
Legal representation for children during a Columbia divorce
You (or your ex-partner) have the right to ask the court to appoint an attorney for your child to fight for their best interests. Understand that this attorney is not on your side, or even necessarily your child’s, but only what’s best for them. Best interest attorneys are important when parents cannot come to agreement, or when one or both parents believes the well-being of a child is at risk.
In some situations, however, the court may appoint a best interest attorney without a request, or even against the parents’ wishes, if they believe the child needs their own representation. Courts typically assign an attorney for the child if there’s any allegation of sexual or physical abuse, or if there are questions about the child’s safety.
How attorneys establish the best interests of a child
During a divorce or other legal proceeding, child’s best interest attorneys will typically conduct an investigation to determine all aspects of the child’s situation, and advocate for their interests to the court. They may do the following:
- Meet with the child. A best interest attorney discusses the situation in-depth with the child. They might discuss the child’s feelings or wishes regarding custody and visitation. These meetings can take place in the child’s home, or both homes if they move between the homes of both parents.
- Meet with their parents. These meetings are crucial to understand the wishes of each parent and see the situation through their eyes.
- Meet with other pertinent adults. The best interest attorney may also talk to other important adults in the child’s life, like teachers, counselors, coaches, daycare staff, and others.
- Review medical records. If there are health and medical records pertaining to the case, the child’s attorney can review them to get more insight.
- Participate in hearings. Best interest attorneys represent the child in all legal proceedings.
Things to remember about best interest attorneys in Maryland
When a child is assigned a best interest attorney, both parents must assist the lawyer as much as they can. They’re obligated by law to make their child available for meetings with their attorney, as well as allow the attorney access to things like medical and school records, and other important information.
The most important thing to remember, however, is that a child’s best interest attorney is not the parents’ attorney. The lawyer works only for the best interest of the child, and is not obligated to and will not do what the parents ask. Their job is to use all the information they’ve collected to make the best and most optimal decisions about what’s best for the child.
If you are in a situation where you believe your child would benefit from a best interest attorney, the Columbia lawyers at McCabe Russell, PA can help. Firm founders Heather Russell and Emily McCabe are both certified Best Interest attorneys. To speak with an experienced lawyer serving Howard County clients, please call 443-917-3347 or fill out our contact form. We also maintain offices in Bethesda, Rockville and Fulton.