In the Children’s Court of New South Wales, the children subject to the proceedings will generally always have their own lawyer, appointed by the Court, and funded by Legal Aid.
The primary purpose of the independent/direct legal representative is to represent the child’s best interests. The Court will not make any Orders that are perceived to be against the best interests of the child subject to the proceedings.
Whether your child will have a direct legal representative or independent legal representative will generally depend on the age of your child. If a child or young person is aged over 12 years they are considered to be capable of giving direct instructions and the representative is a “direct” legal representative. If the child subject to the proceedings is under 12 years, the representative is an “independent” legal representative.
A direct legal representative will follow the child’s instructions similarly as if they were an adult client, put the child’s views and wishes before the Court and seek Orders in accordance with those views and wishes. An independent legal representative will act in accordance with the children’s best interests and whilst they will generally consider the child’s views, they are not required to follow them.
The child’s lawyer will be an active party in the proceedings and will participate in all Court events and receive all documents filed in the proceedings. They are a party to the proceedings just as much as the parents and Department are. Any Orders which are proposed to be made by consent, must be agreed to by the child’s lawyer.
If you have a child or young person involved in Children’s Court proceedings, you should seek legal advice. If you are a carer or close family member of a child subject to Children’s Court proceedings it may also be advisable to obtain legal advice. If you wish to obtain advice about your situation please contact our family law solicitors by calling (02) 4050 0330 or booking an appointment online.