Certain child custody cases involve the appointment of an amicus attorney. This is an attorney appointed by the court to help protect a child’s best interest. The amicus attorney is providing legal services to the court – not the child – and therefore there is no attorney-client relationship between the amicus and the child.
An amicus attorney is not bound by a child’s desires and can disclose confidential communications with the child to the court to help the court determine the child’s best interest.
An amicus attorney can be requested by a party, but the court can also choose to appoint an amicus on its own. Most of the time, the parties will bear the cost of the amicus. Occasionally, the court will have the county pick up the expense, if it deems the appointment is necessary but cost-prohibitive to the parties.
An amicus attorney may be appointed in any case where the court needs to determine what is in the best interest of the child. Appointment is most common in termination suits and parentage suits, in certain situations.