The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized a parent’s fundamental right to the care and custody of his or her child, and decided that a state may not terminate that right unless there is an individualized determination of parental unfitness. Absent a finding that a parent is unfit, it is presumed that children are best served by remaining with their parents. Like other aspects of child welfare and family law, child custody is based on the best interests of the child. In making this determination, many factors are taken into consideration. Two of the key factors are the emotional relationship between the child and each parent, and the capacity of each parent to provide for the needs of the child. To demonstrate these capacities in court requires great skill and zeal on the part of an attorney.
All attorneys know that they are obliged to zealously represent their clients at all times. What does that mean in practice? It means they must be ardently active, devoted, and diligent in representing their client. When attorneys know each other well—maybe they’re even close friends—does their tenacity on behalf of their client inadvertently wane? Especially in family law, where things can get truly nasty, do attorneys unconsciously become a bit less determined than they otherwise should be if they oppose an attorney who also happens to be a longtime friend?