What is Minor’s Counsel?
Minor’s Counsel is an attorney appointed by the Court to represent a child or children. Minor’s counsel only represents the child and does not represent the parents in any capacity.
In California, Minor’s counsel must determine what is in the best interest of the child and also determine what the minor’s preference is if the child is of “sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to custody.” (Family Code 3042)
Minor’s Counsel has access to the children’s records and the right to interview any relevant person in the child’s life.
Can I hire you to represent my child?
No. The court must appoint an attorney to represent the child. Parents can request an attorney be appointed but only the Judge can actually appoint Minor’s Counsel.
Who pays the attorney fees for Minor’s counsel?
At the time the court appoints an attorney to represent the child, the court will also decide who pays the fees. In some cases, one parent may be required to pay all the fees. In other cases the fees might be split between the parents. The court also may order the County to pay the fees if the parents qualify as indigent under the court’s financial guidelines.
Once minor’s counsel is appointed, what happens?
The court notifies our office that we have been appointed to represent the child/children. At this point our office will mail each party a letter and ask each parent to complete an information packet and sign release forms allowing us to speak with doctors, school officials, etc. In cases where the parties are ordered to pay minor’s counsel fees, we will ask that the retainer be paid to our office before we will begin any work on the case.
After the information packets are complete and the retainer fee is paid, our office will contact the primary custodial parent and make an appointment for the minor to meet with our attorneys. At this appointment, only the child will speak with the attorney. As minor’s counsel we ask that any concerns a party has be sent to us in writing. We generally do not speak with the parents.
After interviewing the child, our office will investigate any relevant problems before the court hearing. At the court hearing, the attorney will discuss the findings with the parties and their attorneys as well as the Judge. If a written statement of issues and contentions was required, this will be filed with the court before the hearing date.
Should I discuss with my child what to say to Minor’s Counsel?
No. We ask that parents not discuss any issues of the case with the children. Litigation is difficult for adults to handle and even more stressful for children. Please refrain from telling your children what to say to their attorney or asking what they discussed with the attorney after the interview.
For additional information please see:
National Association of Counsel for Children: