Telling your story - putting in a Response

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 others:

  • what you think is best for your children
  • what you have to say about the Department’s application and affidavit
  • your side of the story.

One of the ways you can do this, is by completing a court document called a Response to put your views and evidence down in writing. The information on this page will help you with preparing your Response. Find out:

  • what is a Response
  • why a Response might help your case
  • what sort of information could go in your Response
  • what to do after you have prepared your Response.

Preparing and filing a Response form will help the court to more quickly work out what is going to be best for your children.

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 Child Protection for a protection order.

If you have a case in the Children’s Court you will have received a copy of the Department of Communities, Child Protection and Family Support’s (Child Protection) 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 the Department 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:

  • 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.
  • Important positive developments for you and your family before the children went into care left out by the Department.
  • 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 as early as possible, preferably before a child protection mediation style conference, if one is planned. However, you can put it in later if that suits you better. Sometimes the court will set a date.

If your case goes to trial the Child Protection will file a longer affidavit. You might need to do another Response or 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.

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Reviewed: 30 September 2020

Disclaimer

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.