Representation for Children in Family Proceedings

In an ideal world, all divorce and custody proceedings would take place amicably, with parents agreeing on what is in the best interest of their child and working together, peacefully, to minimize the difficulties that their children face. Unfortunately for many, this is not the case. Emotions run deep, hurtful things are said, and children get lost in the battle. For this reason, many courts encourage independent representation for children in divorce and custody proceedings.

Who Is This Person Involved in My Case?

An independent representative for your child can be a jarring presence when first introduced into a divorce or custody case. Parents may take offense at the fact that a third party advocate is necessary to protect their children, but these individuals serve an important role. They act as the neutral representative of a child’s wishes.

Independent attorneys are often appointed by the court in contentious family law proceedings where parents dispute who should have custody of their kids, or what their kids really need. In Johnson and Linn Counties, the courts typically work with Kids First, a local children’s law center that provides representation for children in high-conflict proceedings. A Kids First attorney is appointed (or sometimes agreed upon by the parents) to investigate family circumstances, meet with the children, attempt to reduce conflict, keep the children out of the middle of the parents’ disputes, and advocate for the children’s wishes.

The Responsibilities of a Kids First Attorney

Iowa judges in Linn and Johnson Counties utilize Kids First attorneys to take certain steps in order to attempt to reduce the impact on the child. These steps include:

  • Meeting with the child to understand their feelings, wants and needs
  • Kids First believes, and it stands to reason, that every child wants their parents to get along. So, Kids First will work with parents to reduce the conflict wherever possible
  • Visiting the homes of the child
  • Consulting with individuals who are familiar with the child or provide services to the child, such as social workers, therapists, counselors, teachers, and doctors
  • Reviewing relevant documents such as school and medical records
  • Attending all hearings in the related family law matters
  • Advocating for the child’s wishes

The Benefits of an Independent Representative

Involving a Kids First attorney in your custody or divorce proceedings may initially seem quite odd, but there are many advantages to appointing someone to protect your child’s best interests.

First, Kids First has programs in place to help children through divorce and separation proceedings. Since the separation and divorce of parents can be particularly difficult for children to deal with and comprehend, Kids First creates supportive environments so that children dealing with such proceedings can handle the challenges of the situation in constructive, healthy, and positive ways.

Second, there are Kids First programs in place to educate parents who are going through divorce and separation proceedings on how to make sure they are putting the needs of their children first while dealing with the legal and financial elements of the situation. By working with a Kids First attorney, you can help ensure that you don’t overlook the needs of your child.

Third, the attorneys at Kids First are well-trained in making the needs of children a priority in divorce and separation proceedings. Kids First regularly has workshops and conferences for professionals, including attorneys, mental health professionals, educators, and court officials so that all parties involved in a divorce and separation understand how to mitigate the negative impact on the children.

Let Family Law Attorney Jonathan D. Schmidt Assist You In Identifying An Effective Representative for Your Family’s Dispute.

Family law attorneys and Kids First attorneys often work together to effectively address and resolve divorce and custody issues. Child custody attorney Jonathan D. Schmidt can help you to determine whether a Kids First attorney is appropriate for your situation and, if so, how to ask for Kids First to be appointed by the court. To find out more about how he can help, contact us online or at (319) 774-6078.