March 24, 2011

Having An Attorney Appointed For Your Child During Divorce

As Portland Oregon divorce and family law lawyers, we get a lot of questions from clients about what voice children have in deciding where they live or a schedule. We previously blogged about a common myth that children could decide where they live during custody and parenting time disputes, and it turned into one of our most popular posts.  This post is to expand on one way that minor children can have a voice in a divorce or custody case by having their own representation.

ORS 107.425(6) provides that the court can on it’s own motion or on the motion of a party , appoint counsel for children. If a party asks, the appointment is discretionary. If the child asks, the court must appoint a lawyer.   Some counties have local rules that further explain the process. For example, in Multnomah County, the Supplemental Local Rule describes the role of the children’s attorney as “”[t}o the extent possible, appointed counsel will represent their clients’ legal interests in obtaining a secure, stable home life and a balanced relationship with both parents and will be answerable only to their client and to the Court. ” The role is to give a child a voice in a proceeding when one parent, or both, may disagree with what the child wants.  Many times in our experience, a child’s attorney can help settle a case outside of court that otherwise would have been resolved in a courtroom.

If you believe your child is caught in the middle, or needs an independent voice in a case, talk to your attorney about having an attorney appointed to represent your child.

The lawyers at Stephens & Margolin LLP have represented children in divorce cases, and are knowledgeable about the appointment process.