Do Lawyers for the Parents Have a Duty to Their Children?
Lawyers are officers of the court. That means that while a lawyer clearly has a duty to his or her client, a lawyer’s first duty is not to the client, but to the court. In child custody disputes, the court’s paramount duty is to subserve the best interest of the child. I happen to believe that this is a misguided policy (the court’s paramount duty is to subserve the best interest of the family, both as to its individual and collective members). But I digress. Given the best interest of the child doctrine, what duty, if any does the lawyer for a parent—who is also an officer of the court—owe to the child? Is there a duty, owed by the lawyers for the parties to the Court, which also takes priority over the duty to the client? After all, a child is not a party to those proceedings. Yet because a court’s primary duty is subserving the best interest of the child, some argue this means that the welfare of the child (i.e., the best interest of the child) prevails over the lawyer’s duty to subserve the best interest of his or her own client. I’m not sure that’s good reasoning, good morals, good ethics, or good policy. I’ll have more on this in future videos, but in the meantime, what do you think?
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