What is the Role of an Amicus Attorney in Divorce?

What happens when parents disagree on what is in the best interest of their children? In a divorce proceeding with two conflicting sides, and even a third side, with a child's opinion, a court might appoint an amicus attorney to make sure the child's needs are met in a divorce.

How Does an Amicus Attorney Work?

Per family code, an "Amicus attorney" means an attorney appointed by the court in a suit, other than a suit filed by a governmental entity, whose role is to provide legal services necessary to assist the court in protecting a child's best interest rather than to provide legal services to a child. In particularly contentious child custody cases, a Texas judge has the discretion to appoint an amicus attorney to help the court decide what is in the best interest of child/children of the family. An amicus attorney is usually hired in contentious custody battles. In Latin, amicus means "friend to the court." The amicus attorney does not represent one side or the other in a divorce. They do not even represent a child directly. The job of the amicus attorney is to provide legal services to the court. An amicus attorney must be an attorney trained in child advocacy or an attorney determined by the court to have experience equivalent to that training. In determining the best interests of the child, it is important to know that the amicus attorney is not bound by the child's expressed objectives of representation. Rather, the role of the amicus attorney is to provide the court with information about the desires of the child. The amicus attorney is not appointed to necessarily advocate for the desires of the child if they do not believe it is in the child's best interest. As you might suspect, children do not always make the best choices. For example, a teen might want to live with the parent who is home far less and has less strict rules. He might want to live with that parent but it might not be in the child's best interest to do so. An amicus attorney's primary concern should be a child's best interests only. An amicus attorney gathers information for the court. They do this in a variety of ways, interviewing the child or children of the family, talking to the parents, visiting the homes of the parent's, interviewing doctors, neighbors or friends of the family and they attend court if need be. All the information they find is designed to help the judge to determine what is in the best interests of the children. Are you thinking about a divorce and wondering how your children with fare with the change?  Puhl Law Group, P.C. helps put children first in divorce proceedings. Contact our board certified lawyers to learn more about your divorce options and if you might need an amicus attorney.  

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