Helping A Child Through The Custody Process
Any type of child custody matter is difficult for the children involved. Whether you are divorcing or facing a major change in circumstances, or if your children suffered some type of abuse, your children need someone to look out for their best interest in the courtroom.
Under Maryland law, the family court judge should always consider a child’s best interest when making a decision. The judge may need some assistance in figuring out what that means from the child’s point of view, however.
At Tracy Miller Law, LLC, I have significant experience looking out for vulnerable children and representing them in court throughout the Columbia area. Courts and concerned adults often contact me to represent a child as either a child privilege attorney or a best interest of the child attorney.
What Is A Child Privilege Attorney?
Many children whose parents are going through a divorce (or who are involved in a child custody issue) are in therapy. In most cases, the topics they discuss with their therapist are confidential. In a custody hearing, however, the information from their therapy sessions may be important to the custody decisions. A child privilege attorney is granted special access to the privileged information that is divulged in therapy in order to decide if that information should be used in court. I underwent the special training required to act in this role, which is rare among family law lawyers.
Child privilege attorneys may be used in various court proceedings but are common for the following:
- Child custody hearings – The lawyer can be helpful in custody cases with high conflict, allegations of substance abuse or relocation away from one parent or another family member.
- Child in need of assistance (CINA) cases – These cases often involve children who have been abused or neglected and therapy notes may reflect the serious ongoing risk to the child if placed back in their home.
- Child support determinations – Courts may benefit from further insight on issues that affect child support.
The Role Of A Best Interest Of The Child Attorney
A best interest attorney may seem similar to a child privilege attorney at first, but the role differs slightly. A best interest attorney ensures that a child has a voice in the courtroom during divorce/child custody proceedings. Many people may think of this as a guardian ad litem, a term Maryland no longer uses.