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It is not unethical, or a conflict of interest, for an attorney to accept an appointment as guardian ad litem, or as counsel for the parents in a juvenile court proceeding simply because his spouse is employed by the department of health and human services as a child/family support worker in the jurisdiction of the juvenile court where the proceedings are held. This assumes that the lawyer's professional judgment is not adversely affected and there are no other special circumstances giving rise to a conflict of interest. The committee recommends, however, that the attorney disclose the familial relationship to the court, all lawyers, and the parties involved.
If the attorney's spouse has been involved in the minor's case, such as having been assigned to investigate or report on the minor's circumstances, and this involvement could potentially lead to his spouse being called as a witness in the proceeding before the juvenile court, the attorney should not accept an appointment as guardian ad litem or as counsel to the parents.
If the attorney is currently involved in cases as guardian ad litem or counsel to the parents, and it appears that his spouse will be called as a witness he should seek the court's permission to withdraw.
This page was last modified on Tuesday, April 3, 2012