Child representatives in the Children's Court
In some child protection cases at the Children’s Court of WA your child may be given a lawyer (called a child representative) to help the court work out what your child wants or what is in their best interests.
Find out about the role of a child representative in the Children’s Court of WA:
- what is a child representative?
- can I ask for a lawyer for my child?
- do I have to pay for the lawyer?
- does the lawyer have to tell the court about the wishes of my child?
- how does the lawyer work out what is in my child's best interests?
- what does the lawyer have to tell the court?
- what if my children want different things?
What is a child representative?
A child representative is a lawyer who acts for your child in a Children's Court of WA protection and care case. They might also be called a 'separate representative'.
Sometimes a child or young person will tell the child representative what they want. If a child is not able to give instructions, or if there are other special reasons, the lawyer will tell the court what they think is in the best interests of the child instead of just their wishes.
If your child is old enough to understand, the lawyer will explain to them 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 magistrate decides whether or not a child should have a separate lawyer. However, as a parent, you can ask for the magistrate to appoint a lawyer. The magistrate will consider your request.
Do I have to pay for a lawyer for my child?
No, in protection and care Children’s Court cases you do not have to pay for your child’s lawyer.
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'. Even if the lawyer tells the court what arrangements they believe are in your child’s best interests they will let the court know your child’s wishes.
In the Children's Court, if your child can’t or won’t express what they want, the lawyer will explain this and tell the court their own views on what is in the child's best interests.
Sometimes the child is too young to express their wishes and the lawyer will act on their best interests.
What must the lawyer tell the court?
If the lawyer is acting in your child's best interests, the lawyer must tell the court:
- all the important information about your child's background and current situation, and
- what they think is in your child’s best interests
to help the court make a decision that will be best for your child.
If acting on instructions, the lawyer has to tell the court your child’s instructions.
What if my children want different things?
If your children want different things the same lawyer may not be able to represent them, especially if they are acting on instructions.
If this happens the lawyer will let the court know. The court may have to arrange for a new lawyer for one or all of your children.
Keep em Safe Fact sheet : What do lawyers do in child protection cases?
Guidelines for Child Representatives – for information on what the court expects of child representatives,
Reviewed: 13 December 2022