ETHICAL DUTIES OF LAWYERS FOR PARENTS REGARDING CHILDREN OF CLIENTS

BEING A CHILD-FOCUSED FAMILY LAWYER

  • Nicholas Bala
  • Patricia Hebert
  • Rachel Birnbaum
Keywords: child-focused, ethics, lawyer role, duty to children, lawyer duty, family law

Abstract

Lawyers for parents in family cases have important ethical duties not only to their clients and the administration of justice, but also to ensure that the interests of their clients’ children are appropriately taken into account. A family lawyer taking a child-focused approach also best serves the long-term interests of a parent who is the client, reconciling the apparent tension between the lawyer’s traditional of role of “partisan advocate”. The duties of family lawyers towards children are indirect, and arise because their parent clients themselves have legal and moral duties to their children. Lawyers give effect to their duties to children by providing information, counsel, and support to their parent clients with the aim of “helping their clients to be good parents”. Duties in regard to children must always be balanced against counsel’s obligations to take instructions from their clients. More explicit recognition of the unique ethical issues related to the practice of family law should result in greater professional satisfaction for lawyers, and promote better long-term outcomes for parents and their children.

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Published
2018-04-16
Section
Articles