In some family court proceedings, the voices of children are essential to the case. Oftentimes, despite their presence, their opinion may not be fully heard. To ensure that the voices and interests of children are fully represented in such legal proceedings, independent legal representation may be required. Fortunately, the State of Colorado provides certain protections for children in families that are experiencing difficult transitions. One of these protections is the appointment of a child legal representative.
When and why are child legal representatives appointed in Colorado? There are several different scenarios that may necessitate the appointment of a child legal representative. At Colorado Divorce Law Group, we work closely with families to determine whether child legal representation would be a beneficial option in their case. If this is the most ideal course of action, we will provide the most compassionate and efficacious legal representation possible. To learn more about how we can help, consider contacting us at (720) 593-6442.
According to the standards set forth in CRS 14-10-116, a child legal representative is an individual who is appointed by a judge in a case to act as the attorney for a child or children in a legal proceeding. The appointed representative will be an attorney and given the same rights and privileges as any other legal counsel in the case. The child legal representative is responsible for representing the interests of the child or children with respect to the following legal matters:
A child legal representative offers recommendations about these issues and ensures that the interests of the child(ren) are accounted for at every step. The child legal representative may be appointed for a certain reason or, alternatively, may be involved in every aspect of the case. It should also be noted that this representative is not a neutral expert like a Child and Family Investigator, nor do they advocate for any party’s position. Rather, they act in the best interests of the child.
Once they are appointed, the child legal representative will play in active role in every relevant aspect of the case. They are considered a “first among equals” and have greater influence on certain issues. Thus, they are often an integral part of successfully negotiating a settlement. They are responsible for taking the child’s desires into account and providing recommendations related to the allocation of parenting time, parental responsibilities, and child support, among other issues.
The role that the child legal representative plays in the court also depends largely on the age and maturity of the child. If a child is older and emotionally mature enough to make reasonable decisions, the representative may listen to the desires of the child, discuss potential solutions, and represent the child in court. If the child is young or otherwise immature, their appointed child legal representative may independently collect information that could aid in the court’s understanding of the child’s situation, ensure that the child’s rights are respected, and express their own objective conclusions.
It is important to acknowledge that it is not their role to make recommendations based solely on the child’s desires. Rather, it is the legal duty of the child legal representative to determine what is in the best interest of the child and make suggestions that are in alignment with the needs of the child, even if it goes against their desires and opinions. These considerations are key to understanding when and why child legal representatives are appointed in Colorado. A knowledgeable attorney at Colorado Divorce Law Group can provide further detail on whether a child legal representative would be helpful or necessary in your case.
There are several different reasons why a child legal representative may be necessary in a legal proceeding. The necessity of a child legal representative will be assessed on a case by case basis. A child legal representative is typically necessary in legal matters that involve a high level of conflict or that involve serious issues such as:
Ultimately, the court may appoint a child legal representative whenever it is necessary. A parent may also petition for appointment of a representative as well. While a parent may request a child legal representative, however, the courts are not obligated to grant this request. Moreover, in some cases, such as those involved abuse or neglect, the court will appoint a lawyer by default.
The child legal representative appointed for your case will take several steps to ensure that they understand what is best for your child. Specifically, they will meet with your child to discuss their feelings and wishes. They may also communicate with other individuals who know your child well, such as teachers, social workers, or medical providers. The child legal representative will also consider any other factor that is relevant to the case, such as your child’s physical and mental health. Finally, the representative will attend court hearings for your case to ensure a fill understanding of the situation.
The reasons behind when and why child legal representatives are appointed in Colorado are complex. Based on your unique circumstances, having a child legal representative may make all the difference in your child’s wellbeing. At Colorado Divorce Law Group, we listen to the unique needs and goals of our clients to provide the most comprehensive and effective legal representation. If appointed as your child’s legal representative, we will work diligently to ensure that their rights and interests are upheld at every step of the process. To discuss your case in more detail, consider contacting our experienced family law attorneys at (720) 593-6442 today.