Family Law Practice Area

 

 

Custody Advocacy Program

Council for Children’s Rights’ Custody Advocacy Program, or CAP, accepts court appointments in the highest-conflict Mecklenburg County child custody cases, to represent the best interests of the child or children caught in the middle of those cases.

CAP cases often involve serious allegations such as sexual or physical abuse, substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental health issues. They are often some of the most difficult cases to resolve.​

Our Approach

Become a Volunteer

2021 Vision Statement

Our program utilizes a structured team approach to investigate each case. Each team consists of a staff attorney, a volunteer attorney, and a volunteer custody advocate.

If you’d like to help, you can become a volunteer attorney or volunteer custody advocate. CAP volunteers are highly driven, committed to the well-being of children and, thus, find this volunteer job very rewarding. 

We help repair families, starting with children first.

appointment

We are appointed by Mecklenburg County Family Court Judges to advocate for the best interests of children in custody cases in which the conflict between their parents threatens to impede the judge’s inquiry into and determination of the children’s best interests.

INVESTIGATION

We investigate all the circumstances and facts of the case by interviewing clients and collateral witnesses, conducting home visits, and gathering a variety of records and documents, which enables us to take a position regarding what is in the children’s best interest.

CHILDREN FIRST

When we are court appointed to a case, we never represent adults or parents involved. We only represent the best interests of the child or children involved.

NEED HELP?

If you have a custody concern, we recommend that you call a private attorney or go to Mecklenburg County’s Self Service Center in the Mecklenburg County Courthouse where you can fill out custody paperwork without having your own attorney.

WHAT WE DON’T DO

We are unable to take custody related cases over the phone as we only take court-appointed cases.

We cannot answer custody questions or hear about a case that we have not been appointed to because this can compromise our neutrality if a judge later appoints us to become involved in the case.

When we are court appointed to a case, we never represent adults or parents involved. We only represent the best interests of the child or children involved.

The CAP Team

Patti Tutone, JD
Director of Custody Advocacy

Nidia Angeles​
Program Assistant

Linda Hurlbert, JD
Staff Attorney

Josh Lee, JD
Staff Attorney

Heather McDonough
Legal Support and Database Manager

Ann Sanders, JD
Staff Attorney

Bridget M. Vanevenhoven, JD
Staff Attorney

Children often wonder what is happening in their family. They may think they’ve done something wrong. The stress of a custody case can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. Beyond our legal role we build a more stable foundation so the entire family can thrive.

Volunteer

CAP volunteers are highly driven, committed to the well-being of children and, thus, find this work very rewarding.

Volunteer Attorneys

CAP volunteer attorneys conduct settlement conferences; attend party depositions; draft motions and other court related documents; and prepare for and attend trial. They donate their legal expertise to effectively advocate for children caught in the middle of the most contested cases. CAP training sessions are included in the Continuing Legal Education program at a reduced rate for pro bono credit to attorneys who commit to volunteering with our program. (Training required)

Volunteer Custody Advocates

CAP volunteer custody advocates interview clients and collateral witnesses; conduct home visits, gather records and required documents to assist in advocacy of the child’s best interest. You do not have to be an attorney to participate as a volunteer custody advocate. (Training required)

On-line Training

For those who are not able to attend our in-person training sessions, who want to get started sooner, or who wish to refresh their knowledge and skills, our on-line video training is now available year round. The online training consists of 7 sessions, each approximately 1 hour in length. Email us for details. Once you are approved, you will receive all handouts, instructions and a link to the video playlist.

Internships

Intern with CAP

Internships are available in the following categories: legal, policy, research, and social work. If you are interested in internships with Council for Children’s Rights, please email us.