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Legal Representation for Children

Posted on in Family Law

DuPage County child representation lawyers, legal representation for childrenWhile children are not often named parties in family law litigation, they are frequently greatly affected by the outcome of family court matters such as parenting time and visitation.

Illinois family law has three different ways that the interests of children can be represented. The three types of attorneys are: attorney for the child, child representative, and guardian ad litem. While each may sound similar, there are important differences between these roles and the nuances should be understood.

Attorney for the Child 

An attorney for the child is one kind of child representation lawyer. An attorney for the child advocates for the wishes of the child. Unlike the kinds of child representation lawyers listed below, an attorney for the child is not supposed to put his or her own thoughts or feelings into his or her representation and is only to represent a child’s wishes. This is closest to the type of relationship that an adult would have with his or her attorney.

As an attorney for the child, the child representative does not have a duty to investigate the facts any more than an attorney representing an adult would. Further, like the typical attorney, the attorney for the child cannot be called to the stand to testify about the case. 

Child Representative 

In many ways, a child representative is similar to an attorney for the child. However, the main difference is that instead of advocating for what the child wants, the child representative advocates for what the child representative thinks is in the best interests of the child. A child representative not only talks to his or her client, but also interviews other people related to the case.

Child representatives are responsible for conducting their own investigations to determine what they believe would be in the best interests of the child. This is a large difference in practice from the attorney for the child; however, sometimes the difference can be confusing. Indeed, the child representative may give significant weight to what the child wants, if the child is old enough to express these wishes. Like an attorney for the child, however, child representatives cannot be called to testify as witnesses.

Guardian Ad Litem 

A guardian ad litem is similar to a child representative in that he or she is supposed to investigate the case and come to a conclusion as to the best interests of the child. However, guardians ad litem can be called as witnesses and do not have the same duties to the client as those of child representatives or attorneys for the child. 

How Does the Court Decide? 

A judge will decide which legal representative will work best for your specific case depending on factors like the age and maturity of the child and whether abuse is alleged. Judges will appoint the representative for the child or the parties can request a specific child representation lawyer and the judge will decide what he or she wants to do. 

DuPage County Child Representation Lawyers 

It is extremely important that children are represented by qualified attorneys in matters that affect them. Whether you need an attorney for the child, guardian ad litem, or a child representative, our skilled DuPage County child representation lawyers at Davi Law Group, LLC can help to make sure the rights and best interests of your child are represented. Call us today to schedule your consultation. 

Sources:

http://www.cookcountycourt.org/ABOUTTHECOURT/CountyDepartment/DomesticRelationsDivision/ChildRepGuardianAdLitemGAL.aspx

https://www.isba.org/ibj/2010/11/abcsforgals

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