Why do I have a lawyer? Am I in trouble?

No, being assigned a lawyer because there is a neglect or abuse case filed against your parents, or because you’re in foster care on a voluntary placement, or because someone is asking for custody of you, does not mean that you are in trouble.

The judge appoints a lawyer for a child – probably a lawyer from the Legal Aid Society or Lawyers for Children – to make sure that his rights are protected in the case in court. The lawyer’s job is to let the judge know what the child wants to have happen in the case and to try and make that happen, and to ask the judge to make orders for things that he wants or needs, such as more visits with his family, living with a different caretaker, or getting services that he needs. The law guardian can also deal with the child’s foster care agency on his behalf if the child is having difficulty with an agency caseworker or foster parent.