Attorney Ad Litem

What is an Attorney Ad Litem?

An Arkansas Attorney Ad Litem represents children or other incapacitated persons in family law cases and guardianship cases when custody is an issue.  A circuit judge appoints an attorney to represent the child(ren) if he or she determines that an Attorney Ad Litem would be helpful.  Attorneys for the parents or parties of a custody case may also recommend that the judge appoint an Attorney Ad Litem. His or her job is to know all the facts and make a recommendation to the court about what placement would be in the client’s best interest.

Click here to learn about DHS's role in child custody cases.

What Does an Attorney Ad Litem Do?

An Arkansas Attorney Ad Litem represents the best interest of the child(ren) just like an ordinary lawyer.  A good Attorney Ad Litem will conduct thorough interviews and review all the court documents to get a good grasp of the case. He or she must understand the case and understand the needs of the children. This process is demanding.

An Attorney Ad Litem will need to consider all the following important factors:

Who am I representing?

Every child or incapacitated person in Arkansas is different. An Attorney Ad Litem must consider the client’s age, sex, health, special needs (if any), and preference before making a recommendation.

Is the party morally fit?

An Attorney Ad Litem must consider important factors like integrity, religious practice, compassion, empathy, sobriety, and honesty before making a recommendation.

Is the party stable?

Stability is important. An Attorney Ad Litem must know the party’s financial situation, work environment, community involvement, health, and relationship status to accurately predict whether the party is a good fit for placement.

Will the party care for the child?

Before recommending a party for placement, an Attorney Ad Litem must be convinced that the party is able to love and care for the child or incapacitated person.

What are the Attorney Ad Litem’s Qualifications?

An Attorney Ad Litem must first be a licensed Arkansas lawyer. He or she must also attend a yearly training session to better understand the needs of Arkansas children and the important role that he or she can play in ensuring that their voice is heard.

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