Respected Howard and Montgomery County Best Interest Attorneys Fighting for the Rights of Children
Representing the interests of children in custody and divorce cases in Bethesda, Rockville, Fulton and Columbia
Sometimes, during the family law court process, a child’s interests and needs are separate from the parent’s or from others’. A child may need someone to advocate for him or her in court. Maryland addresses the rights of children in family disputes in different ways. One common way is to appoint a Best Interest lawyer, or guardian ad litem, who acts for the child in court.
The children’s counsel lawyers at McCabe Russell, PA represent children in Howard and Montgomery Counties in high-conflict custody cases and divorce cases, when it would be in the child’s best interest. We understand when our role is to be an aggressive advocate for the child and when we need to step back and be an adviser to the child. Our Best Interest lawyers meet the Maryland child appointment qualifications. From our offices in Bethesda, Rockville, Fulton and Columbia, we are here for your children.
The types of child representation in family law cases
In Maryland, there are three categories of lawyers which represent children in high-conflict and contested custody disputes:
- Child Privilege Attorney. The law allows children to keep certain information private, or privileged. This can include discussion with social workers or psychiatrists. A Child Privilege Attorney determines whether or not this information should be released to the court.
- Best Interest Attorney. A Best Interest Attorney conducts an independent investigation into the child’s situation. Once the investigation is complete, and based on that investigation, the attorney advocates for the best interests of the child, and for what the attorney believes to be in the best interests of the child, not necessarily the child’s wishes. Best Interest attorneys may share confidential information, such as that normally protected under attorney-client privilege, with the court if necessary.
- Child Advocate. Child Advocates treat their minor clients the way they would treat an adult client. They are generally only appointed for older, more mature children who believe that their interests are not being served by their parents.
The Maryland law that governs appointments of an attorney for a child
Maryland Rule 9-205.1 governs when the court should appoint a lawyer for the child and what type of lawyer should be appointed. The rule requires that the court consider alternatives to appointing a lawyer for child, consider the evidence that will be presented and consider the available payment sources. Under the law, “Appointment may be most appropriate in cases involving the following factors, allegations, or concerns:
- request of one or both parties;
- high level of conflict;
- inappropriate adult influence or manipulation;
- past or current child abuse or neglect;
- past or current mental health problems of the child or party;
- special physical, educational, or mental health needs of the child that require investigation or advocacy;
- actual or threatened family violence;
- alcohol or other substance abuse;
- consideration of terminating or suspending parenting time or awarding custody or visitation to a non-parent;
- relocation that substantially reduces the child’s time with a parent, sibling, or both; or
- any other factor that the court considers relevant.”
Warranted appointments should be made as soon as possible without regard to cost. Only qualified attorneys can be appointed to represent children. Firm founders Heather Russell and Emily McCabe are both certified Best Interest attorneys.
Connect with a caring Maryland child interest lawyer today
At McCabe Russell, PA, our Howard and Montgomery County child interest lawyers explain the various ways lawyers can represent children, how the appointments work and when appointments are required or advisable. Sometimes it is clear when the case starts that your child needs his/her own legal counsel. Other times, it becomes clear during the course of the family law litigation. Our Bethesda, Rockville, Fulton or Columbia attorneys comply with all aspects of the court-ordered appointments and follow the highest ethical standards. To learn your rights and your child’s rights, please phone us at 443-917-3347 or fill out our contact form.