Going to court for a child protection case

You can have a say in what happens in your child’s protection and care case in the Children’s Court of WA.

This information will help you to understand more about what happens if you have to go to court for a child protection case. Find out:

  • do I need a lawyer?
  • do I need to go to court?
  • what do I need to do before the court date?
  • what will happen when I get to court?
  • what happens when I go into the courtroom? 
  • how do I let the court know what I want?

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Do I need a lawyer if the Department takes me to court?

If you are a child or young person the court may order that you have a lawyer.  

If you are a parent or another party to the case, you don’t have to be represented by a lawyer. However, preparing and presenting your own case can be complicated. You should get legal advice.

Do I need to go to court for my protection and care case?

You should:

  • get legal advice if your case is at the Children's Court, and
  • go to court each time your case is on at court unless your lawyer or the court tells you that you don’t need to. 

If you don't go, decisions might be made in your case without the court knowing what you want and what you think is best for your child.   

What do I need to do before my protection and care court date?

Try to get legal advice before court.

Before the hearing date look at your court papers to see what time you have to be there. If you don’t have the papers, contact the Department to get a copy.  At Perth Children's Court the duty lawyer service can often help you get a copy of the Department's initial application and report in support. Try to get to court about half an hour before the first court hearing.

What will happen when I get to court?

At Perth Children’s Court security staff will let the court orderly know you are at court.

At regional courts go to the counter when you get to court and tell the court staff or orderly in court you have arrived.  

Your case may not be heard straight away.  Do not leave the court until your case is heard.

What happens when I go into the courtroom?

When you go in to the courtroom, make sure your phone is turned off. Stand behind the table at the front of the court on the left side, facing the magistrate.

Once everyone is there, the magistrate will ask what is happening with your case.

How do I let the court know what I want?

If you are a parent responding to a protection and care matter in the Children’s Court, you will want to tell the magistrate and everyone involved in the case:

  • what you think is best for your child;
  • what you have to say about the Department’s application and report in support;
  • your side of the story.

One of the ways you can do this is by completing a Response form to put your views and evidence down in writing. You can also have your say at a final hearing.


More information


Reviewed: 13 December 2022


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.