Court Appointed Counsel

Court Appointed Counsel for Children with Offices in Columbia, Towson, and Gaithersburg, Maryland

FACTS

shutterstock_375473323An attorney may be appointed to represent a child in custody cases in equity court.

Unlike child welfare cases involving abuse and/or neglect, in child custody cases there is no statutory requirement regarding appointment of counsel for children.

Counsel for children in custody cases may be requested by the parties or appointed by the court.

LAW

Once an attorney is appointed by the court to provide representation for a child in a custody case, the attorney appointed will serve one of three roles as dictated by the appointment.

  • A Child Advocacy Attorney is appointed to advocate the child’s position, regardless of whether the attorney believes it is in the child’s best interest. This appointment, which usually only occurs for teenage children, provides a voice for the child’s position in court in a similar manner that counsel provides representation to an adult client.
  • A Best Interest Attorney is appointed to determine what is in the child’s best interest and advocate that position during any settlement negotiations or trial.
  • A Child’s Privilege Attorney determines whether to assert or waive the child’s privilege of confidentiality with respect to any reports or communication involving a psychiatrist, psychologist and/or other medial professional.
ASSISTANCE

The attorneys at FLAG have represented over a thousand children in child custody and child welfare cases.

  • Michael Katz, Managing Attorney of FLAG’s Child Welfare Division, has been the supervising/managing attorney for the past decade at a firm that is the second largest provider of advocacy for children in the state of Maryland. He has represented thousands of children in Maryland courts over the past decade.
  • Sarah Nesbitt, Managing Attorney of FLAG’s Family Law Division, was trained to serve as court-appointed counsel for children through the Honorable Diane O. Leasure’s course, “Children and Divorce” at the University of Maryland School of Law and has been appointed in numerous cases as child’s counsel.

Additionally, our attorneys are former educators who have experience working with and interacting with children on a daily basis.

We have the experience and commitment to advocate for children and to ensure that children have a voice in a contested custody case.

We:

  • understand the different advocacy roles
  • have experience in fully investigating the child’s case
  • have clear knowledge of the law

Our experience is second to none; we take our role very seriously and will provide competent, zealous advocacy as instructed by the court.

GOAL

The goal of the appointment of child’s counsel in custody cases is to ensure that:

  • the process is fair
  • the child’s voice is heard
  • rights are protected
  • the court is fully informed so that when it makes its determination as to what is in the child’s best interest, the decision will be made with full knowledge regarding all aspects of the child’s life

When seeking out a child’s attorney, experience and a commitment to advocating for children is key to providing a clear picture of the family dynamics to the court. These aspects are at the foundation of FLAG’s mission.