CAFL Practice Tip of the Month – October 2015

When should you close your CAFL NAC?

  • If you represent a parent:

If there is no termination and the child remains in the custody of DCF, the parent continues to be a party with full standing. He or she may participate in all post-trial proceedings, and you should continue to represent the parent all such proceedings.

If there is termination, and no appeal has been filed, you should close your NAC.  If an appeal has been filed, you should keep your NAC open in order to assist appellate counsel and perhaps to handle settlement negotiations or post-termination visitation issues. Appellate counsel will notify you when the appellate proceedings have concluded, at which time you should close your NAC

If the court does not terminate and appoints a guardianCare and Protection of Thomasina, 75 Mass. App. Ct. 563 (2009),  imposes some continuing legal obligations.  CAFL feels Thomasinaalso applies to third party custody cases. Best practice is to notify your client both orally and in writing of the additional obligations. Then you can close your NAC and re-open it if issues arise. If you have concerns about closing your NAC due to ongoing issues in the case, please contact the administrative office to discuss your case.

  • If you represent a child:

Whether there is or is not termination, and whether there is or is not an appeal, Child’s counsel will continue representing the child until the case is dismissed due to: a return of custody to a parent; adoption; guardianship (see Thomasina); third party custody (see Thomasina); or aging out (18-22).

Make sure you continue visiting with your child client quarterly.  As children develop, or have circumstances change in their lives, their positions can change. Also watch out for conflict of interests with siblings. Remember that appellate counsel for the child is your teammate.  However, he/she is not ethically required to adopt your trial position if the child’s position has changed.