(a) The child’s counsel appointed under this chapter is charged with the representation of the child’s best interests. The role of the child’s counsel is to gather evidence that bears on the best interests of the child, and present that admissible evidence to the court in any manner appropriate for the counsel of a party. If the child so desires, the child’s counsel shall present the child’s wishes to the court. The counsel’s duties, unless under the circumstances it is inappropriate to exercise the duty, include interviewing the child, reviewing the court files and all accessible relevant records available to both parties, and making any further investigations as the counsel considers necessary to ascertain evidence relevant to the custody or visitation hearings.
(b) Counsel shall serve notices and pleadings on all parties, consistent with requirements for parties. Counsel shall not be called as a witness in the proceeding. Counsel may introduce and examine counsel’s own witnesses, present arguments to the court concerning the child’s welfare, and participate further in the proceeding to the degree necessary to represent the child adequately.
(c) The child’s counsel shall have the following rights:
(1) Reasonable access to the child.
(2) Standing to seek affirmative relief on behalf of the child.
(3) Notice of any proceeding, and all phases of that proceeding, including a request for examination affecting the child.
(4) The right to take any action that is available to a party to the proceeding, including, but not limited to, the following: filing pleadings, making evidentiary objections, and presenting evidence and being heard in the proceeding, which may include, but shall not be limited to, presenting motions and orders to show cause, and participating in settlement conferences, trials, seeking writs, appeals, and arbitrations.
(5) Access to the child’s medical, dental, mental health, and other health care records, school and educational records, and the right to interview school personnel, caretakers, health care providers, mental health professionals, and others who have assessed the child or provided care to the child. The release of this information to counsel shall not constitute a waiver of the confidentiality of the reports, files, and any disclosed communications. Counsel may interview mediators; however, the provisions of Sections 3177 and 3182 shall apply.
(6) The right to reasonable advance notice of and the right to refuse any physical or psychological examination or evaluation, for purposes of the proceeding, which has not been ordered by the court.
(7) The right to assert or waive any privilege on behalf of the child.
(8) The right to seek independent psychological or physical examination or evaluation of the child for purposes of the pending proceeding, upon approval by the court.
(Amended by Stats. 2010, Ch. 352, Sec. 15. (AB 939) Effective January 1, 2011.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018