Information for Parents and Caregivers
In most cases where parents come to Court to decide child custody or visitation disputes, there are difficult, emotional and complex issues involved. In some cases, the Court may determine that an independent advocate is needed to represent the child or children who are involved. In these cases, the Court appoints The Child’s Advocate to serve as the attorney for the child.
As a parent or a caregiver, you may have a lawyer representing you. Your lawyer’s role is to protect your interests and assert your position. At The Child’s Advocate, children are our clients and our job is to advocate their position and protect their interests. Because we represent the child, we cannot give legal advice to parents or caregivers.
In general, The Child’s Advocate has the following duties and responsibilities:
- Interview the parties, the child and anyone else with knowledge about the child, including teachers, medical and mental health providers;
- Investigate the facts and allegations of the case;
- Evaluate the information gathered and the child’s needs and desires;
- Facilitate communication between the parties whenever possible;
- In consultation with the child, advocate a position on behalf of the child to the Court and to the parents;
- Keep confidential what our clients tell us unless they give us permission to share this information.
If the parents are able to work with The Child’s Advocate to reach a settlement, it gives the parents greater input into the resolution, reduces tension for everyone, and saves the parties’ emotional energy, time and money. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the case will proceed to trial and The Child’s Advocate will present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and advocate for the child. The ultimate decision rests with the Court.