This comment will illustrate how allegations of child abuse in a divorce custody dispute dramatically alter the presumption that the child's interests are well represented. Therefore, appointment of counsel for the child becomes necessary. The author first summarizes current state laws which address this issue and discusses the factors which cause discretionary appointment to fail. Next, the author demonstrates the trend of appellate court decisions and state laws toward mandatory appointment of counsel when abuse is alleged. The author then argues that mandatory appointment is necessitated by due process balancing of the child's and the government's interest. Finally, the author highlights a custody proceeding's similarity to dependency and termination proceedings where representation is guaranteed.
Judicial Discretion is Insufficient: Minors' Due Process Right to Participate with Counsel when Divorce Custody Disputes Involve Allegations of Child Abuse, 25 Golden Gate U. L. Rev.