Going to court for a child protection case

If you have received the paperwork for a child protection case in the Children’s Court of WA, you may have questions about going to court.

You can have a say in what happens in your child’s case.

You should:

  • get legal advice before your next court date, 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.   

You can find more information about where to get legal help with your case on our webpage: Get help with child protection.

This webpage has information about what you can do before the first court date, what to do when you get to court and one of the ways to have a say.

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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. You may be eligible for legal aid for representation.

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

Apart from getting legal advice, before the hearing date look at your court papers to see what time you must be there. If you don’t have the papers, contact your child’s case manager from the Department of Communities, Child Protection 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.

What will happen when I get to court?

Try to get to court about half an hour before the first court hearing.

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

At regional courts you should 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 into 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 may 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 for a protection order 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 if an agreement can’t be reached about your child’s case earlier.


More information


Reviewed: 11 December 2023


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.