Minor's Counsel is a court-appointed attorney that represents a minor child in a Family Law matter. Most importantly, they only represent the child.
The court has the ability to appoint Minor’s Counsel to represent a child or children. The appointment is governed by California Family Code sections 3150-3153.
A Minor’s Counsel is entrusted with rights in order to protect the child’s best interests, such as:
Reasonable access to the minor;
Seeking relief on behalf of the minor;
Notices of proceedings and all phases of the proceeding, including requests for examinations that may affect the minor;
The right to interview individuals and review records relating to medical, dental, psychological, school, case workers, service providers, or any other individual that has cared for the child;
Required to maintain confidentiality in accordance with the law;
The right to be given notice of, to seek or refuse independent medical and psychological exams, for the purpose of the proceedings, unless court ordered;
The right to be provided all court filings and documents and to file proceedings and respond on behalf of the minor;
Monitor advocates, parents, counselors, state workers and others involved with the child to ensure that they are not violating the child’s rights;
Be at every hearing where it pertains to custody, evaluation, visitation, or any hearing directly related to the child; and
To be notified and present as well as be given the opportunity to be make statements or be heard by the court on behalf of the minor.
The county might pay for the representation if the parents can’t afford to pay themselves but usually the court requires one or both parents to pay the fees. Once assigned, the attorney continues to represent the minor until the child reaches the age of 18, except under a few cases when the court may choose to end the appointment early.
Given that minor children cannot represent themselves in custody cases, the court can determine that it would be in the best interest of the minor child to appoint private counsel to represent the interests of the child in a custody or visitation proceeding.
The child’s counsel appointed by the court is charged with the representation of the child’s best interests. Therefore, if the court determines that it would be in the best interest of the minor child, the court may appoint private counsel to represent the interests of the child in a custody or visitation proceeding, provided that the court and counsel comply with the requirements set forth in the California Rules of Court.
Minor’s counsel act as fact finders; their role is to gather evidence that bears on the best interests of the child and present that admissible evidence to the court in any manner appropriate to either party.
They learn about the child’s best interests including the health, safety, and welfare of the child, and are entrusted with rights in order to protect them. They will gather information from interviews with the child, the parents, therapists, and doctors. They will also evaluate school and medical records, psychological evaluations, and any other record that provides relevant information pertaining to the child’s needs.
They're a neutral voice for the child, without compromising the child’s rights, emotional well-being, or forcing the child to side with one parent or the other.
Minor’s counsel can be appointed to represent siblings, however when/if the siblings have different wishes then they each have a right to separate counsel.
As the child requests, the child’s counsel will present the child’s wishes to the court, however, their requests for action are not given significant weight. If Minor’s Counsel determines what the minor’s preference and the minor child is of “sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to custody” the court must consider the minor’s preference but is not required to make orders compliant with the minor’s preferences.
A Minor's Counsel attorney is still a practicing Family Law attorney and can represent a parent (Petitioner or Respondent) during a child custody or divorce matter that they are not court-appointed on. As such, many clients prefer to retain an attorney who is a certified Minor's Counsel to represent them in a custody battle to give them that unique "edge".
Our Managing Attorney, Desiree Meguerditchian, is highly-sought after and is renowned throughout Los Angeles County for her Minor's Counsel work. Contact us if you'd like to have an expert like her represent you on your Divorce or Custody case.
Navigating the courts is one of the primary reasons clients choose an attorney to begin with. It can be messy and not every attorney has an established relationship with court staff and judges. This is an advantage that Minor's Counsel attorneys have. They know the courts inside out.
Any attorney can fein interest in your child's welfare during a divorce or custody case, but how many are actually entrusted by state and county judges to act on behalf of a child's best interest? That's why parents prefer to go with attorneys like us.
Having as much exposure to the law and the courts as we do, we get really good at our job, delivering results that opposing parties wish they had.