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Baltimore County Family Law Attorney Blog

Baltimore & Towson Lawyer Discusses Best Interest Attorneys For Minor Children

Written by Amar Weisman » October 23, 2015 »

There are times in child custody cases (or contested child support cases) when the judge handling the case may decide to appoint an attorney for the child being discussed. At other times, the judge might actually decide to speak to the child one-on-one. Your Towson family law attorney knows that depending on the specifics of the case, the judge might select an attorney for the child to serve as either a best interest attorney, child advocate or a child privilege attorney.

The Role of a Best Interest Attorney

The court determines in each case whether or not a child needs a best interest attorney. Maryland Rules offer a variety of reasons that may be used to convince a judge to appoint a best interest attorney, including inappropriate manipulation and influence by an adult and/or the existence of a significant level of conflict within the case.

In Maryland, best interest attorneys decide on their own what custody arrangements are best for the child or children at issue. An attorney in this role will also advise the court of the child's wishes; however, the attorney does not have to request that the court do what the child requested. It also bears mentioning that best interest attorneys are permitted to divulge confidential information to the court in such cases, unlike in other cases where attorney-client communications are typically kept confidential.

Baltimore County Best Interest Attorneys. 

Generally, child advocates are independent attorneys for children.  What this means is that they are required to treat the child client in the same manner in which they would treat an adult client. More specifically, the advocate is required to follow the child's instructions, even if he or she does not believe the child's chosen course of action will be in his or her best interest.

Unlike best interest attorneys, child advocates are required to keep their communications confidential. That said, the use of child advocates is typically only proper when the child is mature and believes that his or her interests differ from the parents' interests.

What is a Nagle v. Hooks Child Privilege Attorney?

Under the law, both adults and kids are allowed to keep certain information and communications private. The role of a child privilege attorney is to determine whether or not the information provided by the child should be released as part of the court case. You should be aware that parents cannot make a child waive (give up) his or her privilege to have such communications remain private.

The privilege typically relates to information obtained from a child's social worker, psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist. The attorney, however, can waive privilege with respect to other confidential communications that take place with alcohol and/or drug counselors and religious organizations.

It is the attorney's job to assert a child's privilege to ensure information is kept confidential if doing so is in the child's best interest. Courts generally appoint such attorneys in cases where the child involved is not mature enough to exercise his or her own privilege.

Call For a Free Consultation With a Towson & Middle River Family Law Firm. 

Call The Law Offices of Amar S. Weisman at (410) 321-4994 to schedule a Free ConsultationThe Purpose of the consultation is to determine whether you want to retain this law firm as your Baltimore & Towson Family Lawyer. If you do wish to proceed, then you must pay a retainer. See Our Policy on Fees and Costs. The family firm is located next to The Circuit Court for Baltimore County, at 1018 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson, MD 21204.