Have a Best Interest Attorney Ensure Your Child Has a Bright Future

Are you or someone you know involved in a child custody case? Are you concerned that there is no a family law attorney looking out for the best interest of a child?

The highly qualified lawyers at Houlon Berman are eminently qualified to represent your child as a best interest attorney. Amid the difficulties of any custody case, it is important that an impartial third party is looking out for the child.

Speak with a family law attorney about your case or schedule a consultation today.

What is a Best Interest Attorney?

According to the American Bar Association, in the past there has been an unfortunate lack of precise instruction regarding when and why a lawyer should be appointed for a child. Likewise, they found a need for documentation detailing exactly what the duties and responsibilities of that child’s lawyer would be.

In a document outlining the “Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Children in Custody Cases” the American Bar Association sought to clarify this. They outline that there are two distinct types of attorneys that should be assigned to a child, each with its own set of responsibilities and circumstances necessitating their appointment.

The Child’s Attorney: This lawyer acts as legal counsel for the child in the same manner as they would represent an adult client. They act as the voice of the child during legal proceedings and provide guidance and advice.

The Best Interest Attorney: This differs from a “child’s attorney” in that a “best interest attorney” is charged with conducting a thorough and independent investigation into the child’s situation in order to advocate, according to his or her personal judgment and legal expertise, on behalf of the child. They fight for what they believe to be in the best interest of the child and are not obligated to cater to the child’s preferences, wishes, or objections.

Responsibilities of a Best Interest Attorney

Not only does the American Bar Association outline what a best interest attorney is required to do, but they also specify how it is to be accomplished. These responsibilities can be broken down into several categories.

Ensuring Ethics and Confidentiality

All attorneys are bound by the ethical standards of their profession and the specific rules set forth by the state in which they practice. However, best interest attorneys are unique in that they are less restricted in what they can do on behalf of their client. They are able to work outside of the expressed wishes of their client.

The “lawyer-client confidentiality” standard applies to the best interest attorney but with a degree of latitude peculiar to this position. The attorney may use any information the child gives, even in confidence, in their effort to properly represent their client. So long as the best interest lawyer does not reveal specific information, all that they know, or have discovered, may be used in representation.

Explaining the Role to the Child

It is the responsibility of the best interest attorney to explain their job to the child in an age appropriate and clear manner. As stated by the ABA, this explanation would declare that the attorney will:

  • Investigate and advocate the child’s best interests;
  • Investigate the child’s views relating to the case and will report them to the court unless the child requests that they not be reported; and
  • Use information from the child for those purposes; but
  • Will not necessarily advocate what the child wants, as a lawyer for a client would.

Conducting Investigations

The best interest attorney is expected to conduct a complete and thorough investigation of all relevant material connected to the case. This investigation should be an ongoing process including actions such as:

  • Reviewing court files for the child, siblings, family, etc.
  • Checking social services records
  • Contacting, meeting with, and interviewing relevant persons like
    • Lawyers representing other parties
    • Court appointed advocates
    • Case workers
    • Caretakers
    • Neighbors
    • Relatives
    • School personnel
    • Coaches
    • Clergy
    • Mental health professionals
    • Physicians
    • Law enforcement
    • Any other potential witnesses
  • Personally review all relevant evidence provided by all parties or counsel for the parties

Advocacy: The purpose of the other responsibilities is to provide the best interest attorney with all possible information and insight into the case. This will allow them to properly advocate for the best interest of the client.

The Value of a Best Interest Attorney

Impartiality is functionally impossible for parents in a custody battle. Every party is too involved with, and invested in, the situation.  Each will likely see their own ideas in the context of being in the child’s best interest.

Having a fair-minded and compassionate family law professional appointed to represent the child brings a much needed third perspective to custody cases. They are charged with doing exactly what every parent intends to do for their child; that which is best. Their global understanding of the custody case, and grasp of legal ramifications of the decisions being made, gives the best interest attorney a uniquely informed and relevant position regarding the best custody situation for the child.

Remember, a best interest attorney is not positioned to work against parents; they are working on behalf of your child.

Contact Houlon Berman

For a family law attorney capable of representing your child’s best interest, contact the office of Houlon, Berman, Finci, Levenstein, Skok & Sandler today.

Their over 40 years of experience serving as the family law firm for Potomac, Gaithersburg, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Olney, Rockville, Greenbelt, College Park, Upper Marlboro, and other cities around Maryland makes Houlon Berman the right local choice for your family law needs.

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