Thursday, March 16, 2006

Seeking Return of Best-Interests Attorneys in Maryland

Legislation is pending before the General Assembly of crucial importance to one of the most vulnerable groups of Marylanders: children who are the subject of contested custody battles between their parents. The pending legislation, which was drafted in response to the recent decision of the Maryland Court of Appeals in Fox v. Wills, would restore to Maryland judges the authority to appoint attorneys to represent the best interests of children. Speaking in Annapolis last week, Pamela Cardullo Ortiz, a representative of the Maryland judiciary, described the appointment of these "best-interest attorneys" as one of the best tools a trial judge has to ensure that custody trials protect children and focus on their real needs. "Give us back this tool," she said. . . . In court, these attorneys give voice to the child's views and advocate for the child's best interests. Montgomery County Circuit Judge Ann Sundt has testified that if courts lose the ability to appoint best-interest attorneys, it will set back the administration of justice in child custody cases by 20 years, weakening many child-centered reforms instituted during the past two decades." By John Spiegel, baltimoresun.com Link to Article (last visited 3-15-06 NVS)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/family_law/2006/03/seeking_return_.html

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