next friend

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The next friend is an individual who appears in court in place of another who is not competent to do so, usually because they are a minor or are deemed incompetent. Often, the role is filled by a parent or other relative; it can be any legally-competent person whose interests do not run counter to those of the person on whose behalf they are acting . The "next friend" is not a party to the proceeding, nor are they a formally-appointed guardian. Instead, they are considered an agent of the court whose role is to protect the rights of the incompetent person.

See also: Guardian ad litem

[Last updated in July of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]