As a parent, you want the best for your children and part of that is ensuring that they receive the best means of protecting their best interests. This is especially important in child support and custody cases where the decisions made have the potential to make a huge and lasting impact on your child’s future.
To better understand how child representation factors into legal matters, we’ll take a look at several important elements including the URCANCPA.
The Uniform Representation of Children in Abuse, Neglect, and Custody Proceedings Act
In order to properly explain child representation, we must first discuss URCANCPA or the Uniform Representation of Children in Abuse, Neglect, and Custody Proceedings Act. This act was put into effect in 2006. Its purpose is to improve child representation in the United States while providing a uniform statute for all states to use. Prior to the act, the variation in state statutes made it difficult to provide universally egalitarian child representation across the country.
Under URCANCPA, child representation is divided into 3 distinct categories which are child’s attorneys, best interest attorneys, and court-appointed advisors. To better understand the function of each of these professionals, we’ll review their roles:
Child’s attorney: The child’s attorney serves as the legal advocate for the child; they participate in an attorney-client relationship. This role is often confused with the best interest attorney and there are some similarities. However, there is an important distinction. The child’s attorney advocates for the child’s interests. They may only advocate for what they believe to be in this child’s best interests if he or she cannot (or will not) provide direction regarding a specific topic.
Best interest attorney: A best interest attorney also advocates for the child but more specifically for their best interests, according to legal standards. The attorney will consider the wishes of the child and may need to use information disclosed by the child to ensure the decisions are made in his or her best interests (so long as the source of said information is protected).
Court-appointed advisor: A court appointed advisor does not have to have a law license and should not offer any sort of legal representation or advice. Instead, the role of this individual is to help the court decide what the child’s best interests are through research and investigation.
A Word About Best Interest Attorneys
According to Maryland State law, a best interest attorney may be requested by either party or the Court, provided there are contested custody, child support, or related matters at hand.
Mr. Planta is a certified Best Interest Attorney with many years of experience in the field of child representation. Mr. Planta is also a Facilitator for the Family Division of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland and a Nagle v. Hooks attorney.
While a best interest attorney may be appointed at the request of either party or the Court, there are several other reasons appointment may be granted, including:
- Child abuse/neglect (allegations, charges, convictions)
- Parental alienation and manipulation
- Mental illness
- Alcohol and substance abuse/dependency
- Any special needs on the part of the child
- Domestic/family violence, abuse, and conflict
The factors used to make a decision regarding the appointment of a best interest attorney is up to the Court’s discretion. To ensure that the best interests of your child are met, contact us today at 301.762.1000. Our team of experienced attorneys, provide legal representation to residents and children in the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia.