Telling your story - putting in a Response
What is a Response?
A Response is a court document which can be completed and lodged with the Children’s Court. It is called a Response because it is lodged when responding to an application made by the Department of Communities, Child Protection and Family Support (sometimes called Child Protection or the Department) for a protection order or another party's application.
If you have a case in the Children’s Court you will have received a copy of Child Protection's application for a protection order and an affidavit in support. The affidavit sets out the evidence of why Child Protection started the court case.
How can preparing a Response help my case?
Completing and lodging a Response can help your case as you can tell your side of the story. You can also tell the court, Child Protection, the child representative (if there is one) and other parties what you think is best for your child.
With a Response you can tell your side of the story at an early stage rather than waiting until the end of the court case to give your evidence in the witness box at a trial.
It will help the court manage your case. It may help sort your case out earlier. If your case goes to trial, it will help everyone to work out what the issues are for trial, how many witnesses you and Child Protection will have and how long your trial will take.
Also, you can use the Response form to support any interim application you want to make, for example, to ask for more contact with your child.
Should I get legal advice before preparing a Response?
Yes, you should get legal advice before preparing your Response.
What should I put in my Response?
There is a short video on this page that explains how and when to use the Response form.
After reading the Department’s affidavit carefully, you should try to cover:
- The orders in the application that are opposed, any orders that are not opposed and any alternative orders proposed.
- What you agree with in the Department’s affidavit. If it is easier for you, just write down the numbers of the paragraphs you fully agree with.
- What you disagree with in the Department’s affidavit and why.
- Any family members that should be assessed as a potential carer for your child to be placed with.
- Important positive developments for you and your family before the children went into care left out by the Department.
- If you want to work towards reunification, any important positive developments since your children went into care that show you are working on the worries, for example:
- separating from a violent partner
- getting a family violence restraining order, or a mental health plan, or somewhere safe to live, or more family support in place
- starting drug, or family violence counselling,
- completing parenting courses.
- Any interim order you want the court to make and why, for example, to be able to have more contact.
What you put in your Response is your evidence and it must be true. You will need to swear or affirm that everything you have written is true. There are serious consequences for lying.
It is useful to provide evidence or proof of what you say in your Response if you can. For example, if in your Response you say you are attending counselling, get a letter from your counsellor confirming that you are going to counselling.
How to attach documents to your Response supporting what you say
If you have proof of what you say you can attach these documents to your response. For example, if Child Protection’s affidavit says there are drug problems and you have done counselling you could say “Since [put in the date] I have completed 8 drug and alcohol counselling sessions with Mary Smith at Palmerston. Attached and marked ‘Attachment A’ is a copy of the letter from Ms Smith dated [put in the date the letter was written].”
When should I put my Response in?
You should put your Response in no later than 7 days after the status conference unless the court makes a different direction for you. For information about status conferences see the webpage Stages at court in a child protection case under the heading What is a status conference?
If your case goes to trial the Child Protection will file a longer affidavit. You might need to do another affidavit then, or if your situation changes.
What do I do with my completed Response?
You need to sign your Response in front of an official, such as a registrar or justice of the peace. Then you will swear or affirm that the contents are true.
You should then file it at the court where your case is listed (together with enough copies for everyone else in your case). The court will stamp your copies. You then need to give a stamped copy to the Department, the child representative (if there is one), and all other parties or if they have one, their lawyer.
- Example of an initial affidavit from Communities Child Protection and Family Support
- Example of a Response to the initial Communities' affidavit
- Children's Court of WA - Response form and kit
Reviewed: 30 September 2020