An attorney may be appointed for a child in custody cases for three (3) reasons.
First, a Best Interest Attorney, formerly called Guardian ad litem, is appointed to protect a child’s best interests, regardless of the child’s desires and even if disclosure of confidential information is required to serve the best interests.
Second, a Child Advocate Attorney is appointed to provide independent counsel for a child and owes the child undivided loyalty, confidentiality and competent representation. Such attorney is appointed when a child needs a voice in court, such as relocation cases, when there are allegations of abuse or when a child is sufficiently mature to have distinct interests.
Third, a Child’s Privilege Attorney, formerly called a Nagle v. Hooks Attorney, is appointed to decide whether to assert or waive the child’s privilege of confidentiality with a psychiatrist, psychologist and/or social worker. If the child’s privilege is waived, the health care provider may be allowed to testify and release confidential treatment records.