Best Interest Attorney
A Best Interest Attorney (BIA) is a lawyer appointed by the court for the purpose of protecting a child’s best interest. The BIA makes an independent assessment of what is in the best interest of the child, and advocates for that in front of the court.
A BIA is appointed when:
- there are allegations of physical abuse or neglect
- there has been significant parental alienation
- one party has significant psychological, mental or emotional problems
- the child has certain viewpoints that must be independently expressed
A BIA can be requested by one party, both parties, or appointed by the court. He or she serves as the “eyes” of the court to assure that the child’s best interests are being represented.
In most cases, the cost of the BIA is the responsibility of the parties involved in the litigation. If the minor child turns 18 while the suit is pending, representation by the BIA terminates, but the case can still be pursued by the 18 year old.
As a child’s BIA, he or she:
- Has the responsibility to pursue the lawsuit and account for any money that is recovered for damages
- Will seek permission from the opposing party’s attorney to speak with the party, or, if the party is representing themselves, communicate in writing
- Prepares a report only if requested by the court
- Only brings a child to court when it is pre-arranged with the judge
- Contacts neutral parties when necessary (i.e., day care providers, teachers, coaches, doctors, therapists, parents of friends, etc.)
- Has equal contact with each parent and counsel when possible
- Works closely with mental health professionals when necessary
- Actively listens to the child
When a BIA is working with a child, he or she asks open-ended, non-leading questions, such as:
- Tell me about what you do on the weekends.
- What’s it like at your mother’s (or father’s) house?
- What happens at your pre-school?
- How do you feel about moving to your new house?
Contact a Maryland child custody lawyer to learn more and find out if a BIA would be beneficial for your case.