Attorney For the Children: Appointment and Payment

January 2nd, 2015

In some custody disputes, it may be necessary for your children to have their own lawyer.  This can happen in different ways.

A court may, on its own motion, appoint counsel for the children.  This occurs most commonly in high conflict cases where the court is worried that neither parent is looking out for the best interests of the children.

A second way is for a parent to file a motion asking appointment of counsel for the children.  If such a motion is filed, the court may or may not appoint counsel, depending on the circumstances.

The third way is for a child to request representation.  The way this happens most of the time is for a child to write directly to the judge requesting an attorney.  If the court receives this type of letter, the law requires the judge to appoint counsel for the child.  Occasionally, a lawyer will sign up on a list to provide representation at low or no cost.  In most cases, the court will order the parents to divide the cost in some fair manner.  As you can imagine, the majority of “requests” made by a child are coached or heavily influenced by a parent.  The way Oregon law is worded, the court must nevertheless appoint counsel if it receives a request from a child.

It might also be possible for a parent to hire separate counsel for the child, but I have not seen that occur in my practice.

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