Youth in Court

Office of Law Guardian (OLG)

In child welfare cases in New Jersey, children have rights separate and distinct from those of their parents or guardians.  One important right a child has is the right to have an attorney, known as a Law Guardian, represent the child in court, present the child's wishes to the judge, and protect the child's interests throughout the legal proceedings.  Located within the NJOPD, the Office of Law Guardian (OLG) is responsible for providing this legal representation to children in family court matters involving allegations of abuse and neglect against parents or other caregivers, or in cases involving possible termination of parental rights.

A Law Guardian helps the child-client understand the child's legal rights and the court process, and keeps the child informed as the case progresses through the child welfare system.  The Law Guardian counsels the child, gives legal advice about the most realistic course of action to protect the child's safety and advance the child's wishes and interests, and helps the child participate fully in court hearings.  Each Law Guardian works as part of a team of professionals -including specially trained investigators and clerical staff - on behalf of the children that the OLG represents.

Similar to the confidential relationship between attorneys and clients in other types of matters, the Law Guardian and Law Guardian investigator enjoy a confidential relationship with the child-client.  In order to protect the confidentiality of the relationship, the Law Guardian and Law Guardian investigator may ask to meet privately with the child-client either at home or at school.

The OLG has staff attorneys throughout the state assigned to represent children in child welfare matters.  The current OLG Director is First Assistant Public Defender Lorraine Augostini. 

The videos to the right are deisgned to prepare you for the court process in a New Jersey child welfare case.  Choose any one of the eight topics in blue and click on the link below it to start the video.

These videos were created with the support and assistance of Scott Trowbridge from the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law with support from the Casey Family Program and the ABA Bar Youth Empowerment Project.

Click here for a listing of OLG Offices.

Frequently asked questions for Law Guardian clients