The Role of the Amicus in Divorce
A amicus (“friend of the court”) is an individual that represents another’s best interest during litigation. Amicuses are most frequently used in family court to represent the interests of a minor during divorces and custody suits. The amicus in Texas is usually an attorney, but whose practice has an emphasis on children. An amicus frequently conducts interviews of the child, the child’s family members, and each party’s attorney. To gain a better idea of the child’s education and behavior, the amicus frequently obtains school or therapist records. The amicus may submit a report or make suggestions to the court to be used to determine what decisions are in the best interest of the child. It is imperative that involved parties do not view the amicus as an opponent but rather a facilitator who is merely acting in the best interest of the child. Although a judge is not required to follow the suggestions of the amicus, such opinions carry great weight.
When Is a Amicus Assigned?
An amicus can be requested by any party in the case or may be appointed on the court’s own motion. An amicus is selected to represent the interest of a minor in situations when opposing parents or family members may have lost the ability to objectively view what decisions are in the best interest of the child. Whenever children are involved in family law cases including divorces, courts must use a best interest of the child standard.
Is There Any Advice to Follow When Meeting with a Amicus?
If you are going to meet with a amicus, there are certain steps that you should take to ensure that the meeting proceeds as smoothly as possible:
- You may decide to have your attorney attend the meeting. Usually your lawyer is not present, though it is a good idea that your lawyer visit with the amicus prior to your meeting to help the amicus understand your position.
- Be Mindful of What You Say. Nothing said to a amicus is confidential and any information shared may be relayed to the court and with other parties. Having said that, you can ask the Amicus to keep some of your comments confidential. While not bound by confidentiality, the amicus will usually honor your request.
- Bring copies of any relevant information you would like the amicus to review to the meeting.
- Prepare a list of references to provide to the amicus.
What Should I Do if the Amicus Fails?
If the amicus fails to perform as a detached third party then your attorney should move the court to discharge the amiucus as not competent. If this argument fails, your attorney’s job will be to point out the failures of the amicus to the court at the proper time.
If you have been involved in a child custody case involving a amicus, it is in your best interest that you contact an experienced Houston family law lawyer. The attorneys at Conner & Lindamood, P.C. will work diligently for a successful outcome whatever your circumstances may be. For further information or to schedule an appointment please contact us at 713-489-2551 or visit us online for assistance.