Minor’s Counsel: The Voice of a Child

When a married couple who have a child (or children) decide to divorce, children are adversely affected. Due to the sensitivity and impact a divorce is likely to have on a minor, California courts rarely allow a minor to testify or speak to a judge directly. For this reason, California courts will appoint a minor’s counsel. This appointment is governed by California Family Code Section 7861, which states:

“The court shall consider whether the interests of the child require the appointment of counsel. If the court finds that the interests of the child require representation by counsel, the court shall appoint counsel to represent the child, whether or not the child is able to afford counsel. The child shall not be present in court unless the child so requests or the court so orders.”

The role of the minor’s counsel is to interview the child while looking to the child’s best interest. The child’s best interest includes but is not limited to the child’s: custodial preference, concerns, rights, physical and emotional well-being. The minor’s counsel must remain neutral while helping gather information about the child – this evidence is presented in court at a later date, to serve the child’s best interest.

In helping become the neutral voice of a child, the minor’s counsel will be granted rights under California Family Code Section 3151. Where there is more than one minor child, a court may appoint separate counsel for each child.

Authored by IRWIN & IRWIN.

IRWIN & IRWIN Family Law is located in Fullerton and Newport Beach, California. We provide a full suite of family law services from divorce litigation, divorce mediation, child custody issues, domestic violence restraining orders and representing minors in court. “Every situation is different, and some come with very complex financial issues. Our legal team is here to support you during a very troubling time and prepare you for court, or to at least help negotiate or mediate the issues out to establish an equitable legal resolution,” says Kelly Irwin, Senior Litigator at the firm.