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Amicus Attorney

Dallas Family Law Attorney Serving Texas

The Texas Family Code defines an amicus attorney as an attorney appointed by the court in a suit, other than a suit filed by a governmental entity, whose role is to provide legal services necessary to assist the court in protecting a child’s best interests rather than to provide legal services to the child.

Having served as an amicus attorney on many contested custody cases, Plano amicus attorney Alma R. Benavides has much experience as an amicus attorney and can answer your questions at an initial consultation.

The Role of an Amicus Attorney

In certain contested child custody cases, judges may appoint an amicus attorney to assist the court in determining what is in the best interest of a child. The amicus attorney does not have an attorney-client relationship with the child or the parents of the child. Specifically, the amicus attorney provides legal services to the court — not the child — and, while the amicus attorney provides the court with information as to the desires of the child, the amicus attorney is not required to advocate for those desires if the amicus attorney believes that those desires are not in the child’s best interest.

Plano Amicus AttorneyAdvocating the Best Interests of the Child

It is necessary for the amicus attorney to meet with the child to ensure that the child’s wishes and objectives regarding child custody (or other matters) are expressed to the court. In determining the best interests of the child, it is important to know that the amicus attorney is not bound by the child’s expressed objectives of representation; rather, the amicus attorney shall, in a developmentally appropriate manner:

  • With the consent of the child, ensure that the child’s expressed objectives of representation are made known to the court
  • Explain the role of the amicus attorney to the child
  • Inform the child that the amicus attorney may use information that the child provides in providing assistance to the court

Duties of an Amicus Attorney

An amicus attorney, within a reasonable time after being appointed by the court, shall:

  • Interview the child in a developmentally appropriate manner, if the child is four years of age or older
  • Interview each person who has significant knowledge of the child’s history and condition, including any foster parent of the child
  • Interview the parties to the suit
  • Seek to elicit in a developmentally appropriate manner the child’s expressed objectives of representation
  • Consider the impact on the child in formulating the attorney’s presentation of the child’s expressed objectives of representation to the court
  • Investigate the facts of the case to the extent the amicus attorney considers appropriate
  • Obtain and review copies of relevant records relating to the child that the amicus attorney may find beneficial during the investigation process
  • Participate in conducting litigation, including filing pleadings as appropriate and conducting discovery, to the same extent as an attorney for a party
  • Take any action consistent with the child’s interests that the amicus attorney considers necessary to expedite the proceedings
  • Encourage settlement and the use of alternative forms of dispute resolution
  • Review and sign, or decline to sign, a proposed or agreed order affecting the child

Powers of an Amicus Attorney

An amicus attorney has the right to:

  • Request clarification from the court if the role of the amicus attorney is ambiguous
  • Request a hearing or trial on the merits
  • Conduct discovery
  • Consent or refuse to consent to an interview of the child by another attorney
  • Receive a copy of each pleading or other paper filed with the court
  • Receive notice of each hearing in the suit
  • Participate in any case staffing concerning the child conducted by an authorized agency
  • Attend all legal proceedings in the suit

Contact Us for More Information

We encourage you to call our office in Plano, Texas, at 972-578-2600 (locally) or contact us by e-mail to schedule an appointment with our experienced family lawyer today.