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Child Representation: Attorney for the Child and the Child Representative

Posted on in Child Custody

child representative, family law, Illinois family law attorneysA few weeks ago, a post on this blog discussed the role and responsibilities of a court-appointed guardian ad litem, or GAL. However, the GAL is just one of several appointments that may be made by the court to assist with child-related legal proceedings, such as those for custody, visitation, or support. In place of a GAL, the court may appoint either an attorney for the child or a child representative, two roles that may sound very similar, but are, in fact, quite different from one another.

Attorney for the Child

A lawyer appointed as an attorney for the child is exactly that. He or she is the assigned legal counsel for the child as a separate party to the case. The normal attorney-client rules of confidentiality and procedure apply, meaning that the attorney is bound by his or her client’s wishes, regardless of the ability of the child to recognize their appropriateness. For this reason, an attorney for the child is not very likely to be appointed unless the court identifies that a minor child is mature enough to make considered, reasonable decisions.

Child Representative

The third option available to the court is the appointment of an attorney to serve as a child representative, a role that essentially falls between that of an attorney for the child and guardian ad litem. The GAL works as an extension of the court to determine the outcome that would best meet the child’s needs, then presents his or her findings as expert witness testimony. He or she is neither party to the case, nor representing any interests other than that of the court. Similarly, the child representative has the authority to investigate the child’s circumstances, interview the parents and child, and develop a recommendation for a preferred outcome. In developing the ideal result, the child representative is expected to at least consider the wishes of the child, but they may be ultimately rejected if found unreasonable.

The child representative does not present his or her recommendation as testimony, however. Instead, he or she will advocate that position on behalf of the child as a party to the case. No cross examination of the child representative is permitted, but other parties may provide evidence to dispute his or her findings and conclusions. The normal rules of courtroom procedure apply, with the child representative protecting the child’s best interest, not just providing legal counsel for the child.

Legal Help for Child-Related Concerns

At A. Traub & Associates, several members of our team are certified guardians ad litem and child representatives. Therefore, if you have questions about the process or how such an appointment may help your case, our experienced Lombard family law attorneys are equipped to provide answers. Call us today to schedule an initial consultation. We would be proud to offer our assistance in protecting your child’s best interests.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=075000050K506

http://www.cookcountycourt.org/ABOUTTHECOURT/CountyDepartment/DomesticRelationsDivision/ChildRepGuardianAdLitemGAL.aspx


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