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The Role of the Child Advocate

17th May 2010
By Employment Resources in Family Law
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In contemporary times, divorce, single parenthood and government intrusion are American facts of life. As more Americans face job losses, difficult financial problems and dissolution of marriages, it appears the youngest in our society are not always at the top of a parent's priority lists. This trend has resulted in more government interference in the child rearing business. Unfortunately, that is not always a good thing; indeed, it often makes matters worse. So what is the solution? Is there even a win-win available? This is where family lawyers can make a real difference in the lives of their clients - and one reason it continues to be a specialty many are drawn to, says A. Harrison Barnes, founder of

The American divorce rates have hovered near the 50% line for decades, but it's only been in the past ten years or so those most affected have been given a voice in a courtroom where their parents are battling out who gets the summer house. Child advocates work with the legal teams and social services to ensure the rights and well being of children caught in the middle are protected. "It's an incredible career", says A. Harrison Barnes, "…and one that requires a degree of compassion and patience many do not possess". For those who do, says the founder, they often end up making significant differences in their clients' lives - differences that these children carry with them into adulthood.

If you're considering becoming a child advocate, you should know a background in Psychology is beneficial and in many states, a prerequisite. You may wish to contact your local bar association for more information on how your state employs child advocates. Odds are, you will likely need to apply through the courts for a place in the rotation. There are other considerations you must realize, as well.

You must be able to find that balance between compassion and also an ability to maintain perspective. Child advocates are not doing a service to their young clients if they allowed the lines to become blurred, says Barnes. While a child's psyche is fragile, it also is resilient. Kids relate to those adults who are open and honest with them - but many also understand the advocate/client relationship does not extend past the divorce and custody hearings that take place in courtrooms.

Good child advocates have working relationships with the attorneys in their jurisdictions, too. They maintain transparent relationships so that there is never a question of unethical practices, but they do recognize the importance of those working relationships that allow communications regarding the common families they are representing and protecting.

Finally, the founder suggests locating other child advocates who can provide even more insight as you set out to determine if this is the right career for you. They can provide you with important considerations you may not have considered. The point is to gain as much information as possible so that you are able to make an informed decision.
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