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4 Duties of an Amicus Attorney in Texas

The best interests of children should come first and foremost when dealing with any family law situation. But what happens when parents disagree about what is best for their children? How does one ensure that a child’s needs are met in the middle of a contentious custody case? For many Texas courts, the answer is to assign an amicus attorney to the case. Here is an in-depth look at what that entails and how this role helps kids through legal proceedings.

What is an Amicus Attorney?

In cases where a private (ie, not involving Child Protective Services) lawsuit is filed seeking conservatorship of a child, the Court can appoint an amicus attorney to assist the Court in ascertaining the child’s best interests. An amicus attorney, unlike the attorneys representing the parties, does not have a client. Their job is to be an arm of the Court, doing much of the legwork to help the Judge know what is best for the child. They are an advocate for the child’s best interests, not for the child personally.

What Are the Duties of an Amicus Attorney?

The amicus attorney has a wide variety of responsibilities. An Order Appointing Amicus Attorney should be signed by the Judge in each case, and the order will specifically outline the attorney’s duties and responsibilities in the case. It is important that the parties read and understand the order and that they ask their own attorney any questions about the same. As a matter of summary, though, these responsibilities and duties include:

  • Conducting interviews – In order to gain a full understanding of the case, the amicus attorney will interview the child in a manner that best matches their developmental level. They will also conduct interviews with the parties involved in the case and any persons they determine to be relevant to contributing information about the child, the parties, and what might be best for the child. This may include teachers, doctors, friends, pastors or Sunday School teachers, or any other person the amicus desires.
  • Litigating the case – Even though the amicus attorney does not hold an attorney-client relationship with the child, they are still very involved in the case. They are entitled to have notice of any and all court hearings in the case, to attend and participate in such hearings, to review pleadings, to sign or refuse to sign pleadings, and to give consent or refuse consent to any person wishing to interview the child.
  • Assisting the child – The amicus attorney will help the child communicate their desires to the Court, if the child wants the Court to know their desires, whether or not the amicus attorney agrees that such desires are in the child’s best interests.
  • Obtaining documentation – An amicus attorney has the right to documentation from the child’s school, pediatrician, law enforcement, Child Protective Services, and any other relevant agency or person. If it is relevant in the case, the amicus attorney will request such documents. They might also run a background check on anyone involved in the case.

Whether or not an amicus attorney is right for your case is a question that you should explore with your attorney. Be aware that you cannot simply hire one for your child; rather, such position is appointed by the Court.

If you are going through a family legal matter and wonder if an amicus attorney might benefit your case, please contact The Hollwarth Law firm today at (903) 234-0711. We strive to assist our clients in taking whatever steps necessary to put the needs of their children first and foremost and will work with you towards the best possible outcome in your case.

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