next friend


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Next Friend

An individual who acts on behalf of another individual who does not have the legal capacity to act on his or her own behalf.

The individual in whose name a minor's lawsuit is brought, or who appears in court to represent such minor's interest. The French term prochein ami has been used to designate such an individual, but the term Guardian Ad Litem is more commonly used.

At Common Law, when an individual was unable to look after his or her own interests or manage his or her lawsuit, the court would appoint a person to represent that individual's legal interests. In court terminology this person was called a next friend, which is derived from the French term prochein ami. Individuals requiring a next friend included minors, persons who were mentally ill or mentally retarded, infirm or senile persons, and others whose disabilities prevented them from managing their affairs.

State statutes now set the qualifications and duties of a person who acts as a next friend, but these laws more commonly designate this person a guardian ad litem, or a court-appointed special advocate. Regardless of the designation, this person's responsibilities are now confined to representing a minor or incompetent person in a lawsuit or court proceeding. At common law, a next friend represented a plaintiff, whereas a guardian ad litem represented a defendant. This distinction has been removed in modern law.

A next friend is not a party to a lawsuit but an officer of the court. When the lawsuit is concluded, the next friend's duty ends. The next friend has no right to control the property of the person she or he represents or to assume custody of that person. These rights may be given to a person designated by a court as a minor's or incompetent person's guardian.

Guardians ad litem are commonly used in family and juvenile courts, where the best interests of the child require an independent, neutral person to safeguard the child's rights. The increased number of these representatives has led states to develop training and certification programs for individuals wishing to serve as next friends or guardians ad litem. Though attorneys also may represent juveniles, next friends provide valuable assistance to the courts.

Cross-references

Infants.

next friend

n. a person (often a relative) who voluntarily helps a minor or incompetent in legal matters, particularly by filing a lawsuit. However, this informal practice has been supplanted in almost all states by petitions for appointment of a guardian ad litem at the time the law suit is filed. (See: guardian ad litem)

next friend

a person acting on behalf of an infant or other person under legal disability.

NEXT FRIEND. One who, without being regularly appointed guardian, acts for the benefit of an infant, married woman, or other person, not sui juris. Vide Amy; Prochein Amy.

References in periodicals archive ?
As noted by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, a next friend in most civil cases is someone who appears in court in place of another who is not competent to do so, usually because they are minors or are considered incompetent.
The next Friend to Friend event will cover photo- graphy.
Alan confessed: "I'll own up to being as surprised as the next friend of his when Paul signed for Rangers.
If he is under 18, you can act as his next friend to enable him to begin the case.
It further states: " If at the time of filing a petition the petitioner is a minor, the petition may be filed through his or her guardian or next friend along with the child marriage prohibition officer.
Melanie Brock, as mother and next friend of Jaya, brought suit on behalf of Jaya against About Women, OB/GYN, P.
Loretta Ray, acting as next friend of the patient, brought suit against Dr.
The next friend and next of kin to all arrestee who committed suicide while being held in a comity jail on a domestic assault charge, brought a [section] 1983 action alleging that the county failed to recognize the arrestee's suicidal tendencies.
Steven Hoel, both individually and as the next friend of Brianna Luck.
An attorney with a county public defenders officer moved to proceed as next friend to stay the execution of a prisoner who had declined to seek federal habeas corpus relief and refused to be represented by an attorney in doing so.
Harris, forms the crux of a suit brought by the Administrators of the patient's estate as well as on behalf of the minor child by and through his next friend.

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