The Custody Advocacy Program is appointed by Mecklenburg County Family Court Judges to advocate for the best interests of children in custody cases in which the issues of and/or between their parents threatens to impede the judge’s inquiry into and determination of the children’s best interests. We work in teams consisting of a staff attorney, a volunteer attorney, and a lay custody advocate. We investigate the circumstances of the child and the facts of the case and take a position with the parents and then with the court about an appropriate result.
Meet our client, Ben
Seven year-old Ben had not seen his father since he was a year old. His mother frequently moved to conceal their location to keep Ben’s father away from both of them. The father located Ben and his mother, but his mother refused to allow the father to see the child and blocked him from Ben’s school. The father filed for custody of Ben, but really only wanted to be a part of Ben’s life. An advocacy team of the Council for Children’s Rights consisting of a staff attorney, a volunteer attorney, and a volunteer custody advocate was appointed to advocate for Ben’s best interests. The team conducted an investigation and ascertained that the father had been steadily employed for several years, had stopped using drugs (the father submitted to a drug test), and had a suitable residence where he lived with his girlfriend and her four year-old daughter. The father’s girlfriend verified that he was not abusive to her, was not using drugs, and was an appropriate caregiver for her daughter. Based upon this information, the advocacy team recommended and the presiding judge ordered an appropriate reintroduction of Ben and his father and an incrementally expanding visitation plan that allowed Ben to have a healthy, loving relationship with both his parents.
Because of the Council, today Ben has a healthy, loving relationship with both his parents.
We are unable to take custody related cases over the phone as we only take court-appointed cases. We cannot answer custody questions or hear about a case that we have not been appointed to because this can compromise our neutrality if a judge later appoints us to become involved in the case. When we are court appointed to a case, we never represent adults or parents involved. We only represent the best interests of the child(ren) involved. If you have a custody concern, we recommend that you call a private attorney or go to Mecklenburg County’s Self Service Center in the Civil Court Building where you can fill out custody paperwork without having your own attorney.