Today, it is very common for kids to become involved with the law. Whether they’re the subject of a custody dispute, a witness in a trial, or charged with a crime, lawyers who specialize in dealing with kids can be very helpful.
Like all lawyers, a child’s lawyer will need a strong grasp of all the legal issues involved, plus a special talent for dealing with kids. It is especially important for them to be able to convey complex legal issues in language that kids can understand. Because of the difficulty involved, and the relatively low rates that many of these lawyers charge, they are a rare breed.
Even if a case involves a child, it is often a parent who must hire the lawyer. However, there are many circumstances where a lawyer’s first client is the child. If a child is being charged with a crime the lawyer will be working on the child’s behalf. If a child doesn’t have a parent, such as a child in the foster care system, a lawyer would have to be appointed to represent the child in any kind of legal dispute.
In far more cases than adults, kids can have lawyers appointed by the court. The lawyer will be appointed either as an attorney, or a “guardian ad litem.”
If the lawyer is appointed as a kid’s attorney, the relationship will be like that of any other lawyer and client, in which the lawyer advocates for the child’s legal rights and interests. This will be most common if the kid has been charged with a crime.
If the lawyer is a “guardian ad litem,” they take on a role as the child’s guardian, and will tell the court what he or she thinks is in the best interests of the child, with less regard for the child’s express wishes. In a custody fight, this is more common, especially when the child expresses a wish to stay with a parent who may be unfit or abusive.
Last Modified: 07-17-2012 10:48 AM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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