Legal representation for children in family law proceedings is a relatively new concept. As children began to be perceived as persons with independent rights and interests in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the notion that young persons should be afforded legal representation to assert those rights became a subject of debate.
The Perlmutter Law Firm works to protect children involved in family court by providing high quality legal services and advocating for policies that advance the well being and best interests of children. Through its work representing children, our law firm seeks to achieve the most stable, safe, and beneficial arrangement for children who are caught in the middle of a family crisis such as a custody battle, divorce, or other chronic family conflict.
When a child is a party to, or a witness in, a court proceeding involving abuse, neglect, or custody, difficult issues can arise for attorneys involved in the proceeding. Is the attorney’s duty to represent the child as a client (subject to the limits of the child’s ability to participate), or is it the attorney’s duty to represent the “best interests” of the child as defined by some external standard or the court?
Whatever the approach a lawyer takes when representing a child, a lawyer should, whenever possible, be more than a mouthpiece for the child and should avoid simply regurgitating the child’s position. The lawyer for a child has an obligation to determine the legal and personal interests of the child client. In the case of an articulate child, the lawyer will help to determine the interests that underpin the stated opinions, preferences, or positions of the child and advocate those positions.