The court can appoint a lawyer to act either as your child’s attorney (called an Attorney for the Minor Child or AMC) or as your child's guardian ad litem (GAL).
If your child is very young, a lawyer may be appointed to be your child’s GAL. The GAL’s job is to tell the court what is best for your child.
If the child is older, a lawyer may be appointed to be your child’s attorney (AMC) to tell the court
- what is best for your child, and
- what your child wants.
Whether acting as an AMC or as a GAL, your child’s lawyer will tell the court
- what is best for the child,
- how the parents can meet the child’s needs, and
- how to best handle any conflicts.
How will the lawyer know what is best for my child?
The lawyer will take steps to get to know the child and to evaluate the child’s situation, including:
- Meeting with your child to learn about your child’s feelings, wishes, and beliefs. The lawyer may meet with your child once or more often than that. The meetings may be at your home, the other parent’s home, the attorney’s office, the child’s school, or some other appropriate place.
- Meeting with you, the other parent, and people who know your child such as teachers, social workers, day care providers, and doctors. These meetings help the lawyer to evaluate your child's situation.
- Looking at any medical records and reports related to your case.
- Having your child’s physical and mental health evaluated, if necessary.
- Going to the court hearings for your case.
- Staying in touch with your child until your case ends.
Do I have to help the lawyer?
Yes. You must have your child available to meet when the lawyer asks. And you may be asked to sign legal forms to let the lawyer see your child’s health records, school records, or other information.
Will the lawyer help me get what I want for my child?
The lawyer’s job is to tell the court what they think is best for your child--not what is best for either parent. The lawyer is not a social worker or a temporary parent, and their main priority is to ensure that the child’s needs are being met. The lawyer may make some recommendations to help you improve your situation, such as counseling, drug or alcohol rehabilitation, parenting classes, or another service that might be helpful.
Important: The child's lawyer is not your lawyer. What you say to your child’s lawyer is not private.