Children can have lawyers too?
While most family law disputes can be resolved without a child having his or her own lawyer, it is possible for children to have their own lawyers. The child's lawyer will advocate for the child's wishes and position. It is fairly common for children in protection matters to have counsel appointed to act on their behalf. Children caught in a custody and access dispute between parents can also have a lawyer. In family law disputes, it is very common for both parents to say that the child wishes to reside with them. Often, this is because a child does not want to hurt the parents and tells them what they want to hear. Children's counsel is a way of providing the child's perspective while isolating them from the dispute between the parents.
How does it work?
When Chantelle represents children, she will often meet with them several times. Chantelle believes it is very important to build a rapport with her young clients in order to gain their trust before obtaining their instructions. She meets with the children in a child-friendly setting, to make the process more comfortable for them.
When counsel is appointed in a protection matter involving protective service agencies, the government pays the cost of children's counsel. Occasionally, counsel can also be appointed by the court in a custody dispute. When that happens, the appointment will go through Legal Aid, but the parents may still be required to contribute to the cost. Occasionally, parents will hire a lawyer for the children and one or both parents will pay the cost out-of-pocket as a private retainer.