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Understanding the Appointment of a Best Interest Attorney


If you are in the process of a divorce and have experienced serious challenges regarding the final child custody decisions with your spouse, there may be a point that the court makes the determination to appoint a Best Interest Attorney or BIA. Most parents feel a sense of anxiety when they learn that a BIA  will be involved in their divorce case. However, it is important to understand that the appointment of a Best Interest Attorney does not necessarily mean that there was any determination of abuse or neglect, but rather that two parents can simply not come to an agreement regarding child custody matters. Understanding how a Best Interest Attorney can play an important role in deciding the best custodial arrangements for your child can help you make this process a more positive one.

Understanding the Purpose of a Best Interest Attorney

Your family law judge presiding over your divorce or custody matter may determine that your case requires the appointment of a Best Interest Attorney.  In these cases, the BIA is not working for the benefit of a parent, but is appointed to represent the best interests of the child.

Guardian Ad Litem Responsibilities

A Best Interest Attorney has the responsibility to make a recommendation to the Court regarding what custodial arrangement is in the best interest of the child .  This recommendation to the court is not legally binding, however, the Judge will give the recommendation a great amount of weight in making his/her final decision.  The  BIA will have the power to investigate all aspects of the child’s life including the home environment, family and friend relationships, academic and extra-curricular activities of the child,  the physical and mental health of the child and can speak with witnesses, teachers, medical and mental health providers and social workers. It is also significant to understand that if a party to the case, a family member or friend refuses to cooperate or answer the questions of the Best Interest Attorney, the BIa may petition the court to issue a subpoena to obtain the information. While this can be an unsettling experience, make sure to always promptly and respectfully answer the Best Interest Attorney’s questions honestly and provide them with all the information they request.

Rejecting a Guardian Ad Litem’s Decision

It is not common for a Judge to disagree with the recommendations of the Best Interest Attorney.  Lawyers involved in custody matters know this and will often discuss options with you once a recommendation has been made to try to reach a resolution that incorporates the position of the BIA.  Judges give a great amount of deference to the recommendations of a Best Interest Attorney.  You have the right, however, as a parent to disagree with  the recommendations   of the Best Interest Attorney and have your day in court.. If you disagree, it will be important for you to propose your own visitation and child custody arrangement that is child focused and argue why your proposed arrangement is in the best interest of the child.

Let Us Help You Today

Ms. Mitchell has a wealth of experience acting both as a Best Interest Attorney and litigating in cases involving Best Interest Attorneys.  Contact the experienced Prince Frederick family attorneys serving southern Maryland at the offices at Meng Law at 410-449-1647 or online today if a Best Interest Attorney, Privilege Attorney or Guardian Ad Litem was appointed in your divorce or custody case. We can help you through this process and ensure that your legal rights to your child are protected.

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