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Massachusetts adopted children to have legal counsel

Contested private adoption cases in Massachusetts will frequently involve attorneys who represent the adoptive parents, particularly when child custody is at issue. But until recently, the adopted child did not necessarily have a recognized right to legal representation. That may be about to change, though, according to an order from the Chief Justice of the state's Family and Probate Court.

The order directs that private adoption cases -- at least those that are currently pending -- be reviewed to determine whether the legal rights of the children have been adequately protected.

One of the fundamental considerations of family law matters that involve child custody and child support is what will facilitate the best interests of the child. But in matters such as private adoption, in which the child can in some ways be seen as a separate party from the adults, supporting those best interests can be problematic. It is highly likely that the child will not be familiar with the state's laws or its courts, and instead of working in the child's best interests the opposite can be the actual result.

The scope of the order only extends to contested private adoption matters.

Any legal matters that involve child welfare can raise significant questions of important rights and obligations that concern not only the child but also the parents. Having experienced legal representation from an attorney who practices in the area of Massachusetts family law has always been important, and this new order only makes such representation more critical.

Source: My FOX Boston, "Family court orders review of some private adoptions in Massachusetts," August 27, 2015

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