What is a Best Interest Attorney (BAI)?
When you’re involved in a divorce case with children, you will need to work with a Child’s Best Interest Attorney, or BIA. The BIA is an attorney whom the court appoints to protect your child’s best interests during a case.
The BIA’s job is to take an independent assessment of the child’s needs and to determine what would be in their best interests. The attorney also advocates for the child in court. They may be a part of child custody or access cases.
Best Interest Attorneys are not the only attorneys who work with children in divorce and custody cases. There are also two other kinds who you may work with, such as a Child’s Advocate Attorney, or CAA, and the Child’s Privilege Attorney, or CPA.
What’s the difference between a BIA, CAA and CPA?
The differences may seem minor, but they’re significant. A BIA’s job is to protect a child’s best interests and to advocate for them. A CAA provides independent legal counsel for a child and is also appointed by the court. This kind of attorney will be appointed when a child needs to have a voice in a case, such as if they are a victim of abuse. A Child’s Privilege Attorney, or CPA, is appointed in custody or child access cases. Their job is to determine if they should assert or waive certain privileges that a child would be able to if they were an adult.
Will you always work with a BIA?
Not necessarily, but if the case involves custody issues or access problems, then it is more likely that your child will have independent counsel appointed on their behalf.
As a parent, it may be a good idea to work with your own attorney who has worked as a BIA in the past or who does so presently. Understanding this role could be helpful in your case, so that you know the rights that your child will have throughout the divorce or custody dispute.
Children deserve to be represented fairly and to have their interests protected, which is why this role is so important in Maryland law.