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The way legislatures and courts view the role of children in the divorce process has changed dramatically in recent years. The substantive standard for decision has remained relatively constant, usually the ''best interests of the child," or some variant of that, such as the "least detrimental alternative," focusing on the child's interests as distinguished from those of the parents. However, the procedure for gathering and presenting the facts relevant to that substantive standard has been modified in a majority of American jurisdictions to provide for independent legal representation of the child by a court-appointed attorney who serves as "counsel" or "guardian ad litem" for the child.

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