What if a child representative is appointed in my court case?
A child representative is a lawyer who acts for your child in a Children's Court of WA protection and care case. They are sometimes also called separate representatives. This lawyer acts for a child in a court case in much the same way that a lawyer acts for any person in court. In some cases a child says what they want to happen in the protection and care case through the child representative. In other cases the lawyer will tell the court what they think is in the best interests of the child if the child is not able to give instructions.
If your child is old enough to understand, the lawyer will explain how the court procedure works and the decisions the court might make about their future.
Can I ask for a lawyer for my child?
The court decides for itself whether or not a child should have a separate lawyer. However, as a parent, you can ask for the court to appoint a lawyer and the court will consider your request.
Your child or the child's carer, or any other person who is professionally involved with the child, can also ask the court to consider appointing a lawyer for the child.
Does the lawyer have to tell the court about the wishes of my child?
Yes, if the lawyer is acting on the child's "instructions".
The role of the independent children's lawyer (ICL) in the Family Court is different The ICL advises the court on what they think is in the best interests of the child (see Independent children's lawyer (ICL) in the Family Court).
In the Children's Court if your child cannot or does not want to give instructions, then the child's lawyer will let the court know that the child cannot express wishes or does not want their wishes to be known. The lawyer will then express their own views on what is in the child's best interests.
If the child representative is appointed to act on best interests the child may be too young to express their wishes.
How does the lawyer work out what is in the child's best interests?
The lawyer will listen to any views expressed by the child. However, this is not the only information the lawyer will use to decide what arrangements will be best for your child. The lawyer will also usually talk to people involved in your child's life, for example, teachers and doctors.
What does the lawyer have to tell the court?
The lawyer has to tell the court what the child's legal position is (based either on the child or young person's instructions or on what they think is in the best interests of the child).
If the lawyer is acting in the child's best interests, the lawyer must tell the court all the important information about the child's background and current situation to help the court make a decision that will be best for the child.
Where can I get more information?
Last reviewed: 18/09/2015