My family-focused legal services include representing children in contested custody and parenting litigation when appointed by the court.Maryland recognizes three types of attorneys who can be appointed to represent children who are the subject of contested custody litigation. All of these roles require that the attorney be appointed by court order to represent the child client.
Child Privilege Attorney
This is the narrowest role. A Child Privilege Attorney (“CPA”) is charged with determining whether the child’s privilege or confidentiality with a mental health professional (such as, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker/LCSW, licensed professional counselor, or other licensed mental health provider) should remain intact or be waived. In short, the CPA is a gatekeeper for the child client’s confidential therapeutic relationship.
Best Interest Attorney
The Best Interest Attorney (“BIA”) role includes the duties of a CPA, in addition to making an independent assessment of what is in the child’s best interest and advocating for that before the court. A BIA is required to make the child’s position part of the record, even if different from the position the BIA advocates regarding the child’s best interests. A BIA is the child’s attorney, advocating for the child’s best interests while giving the child a voice in the process and outcome.
Child Advocate Attorney
The Child Advocate Attorney (“CAA”) may include the duties of a CPA, in addition to acting as an independent attorney for the child client, owing the same duties of undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation as are due an adult client. A CAA is appointed when the child is in need of a voice in court and the child demonstrates “considered judgment”. A CAA is the child client’s attorney, advocating in pursuit of the child client’s preferences and desired outcome. This role is neutral, in the sense that as a child’s attorney I do not represent and cannot advise any parent or party in the litigation. Rather, my loyalty and obligations are to my child client.