This section provides information on the appointment of a Child Representative at the Family Justice Courts (FJC).
What is a Child Representative?
A Child Representative represents your child's best interests and does his or her best to ensure that is the focus of any decision relating to the child.
A Child Representative does not represent your interests. He or she
will not be in the position to give you legal advice.
A Child Representative will ascertain the child’s views and allow the child to be involved in decisions as to his or her future, in a way that takes into account the age and maturity of the child.
The FJC may order that a Child Representative be appointed in cases where a child is party to or subject of any action or where the action involves a child or the custody or welfare of the child. The Court would make such an appointment if it is of the opinion that it is in the best interests of the child to do so.
You can also ask for a Child Representative to be appointed. You will need to let the Court know why a Child Representative is important in your case. You may have to contribute towards the costs of the Child Representative.
The Child Representative represents the voice of the child as well as presents an objective assessment of the arrangements which are in the best interests of the child.
The Child Representative will spend time with your child to understand your child's perspectives on the arrangements relating to the child.
The Child Representative may also ask for reports from teachers, counsellors or other professionals who have contact with your child.
The Child Representative may also arrange a conference with you, your ex-spouse or your lawyers to talk about issues affecting your child. In some cases, this conference can resolve the matter and the lawyers or the Child Representative may inform the Court accordingly to record a Consent Order.
You will have contact with the Child Representative in one of two ways:
- If you have your own lawyer, the Child Representative will discuss your child's case with them or with you together with your lawyer. Please do not contact the Child Representative directly; and or
- If you do not have your own lawyer, the Child Representative will contact you directly in person, by phone or in writing. Please do not initiate contact with the Child Representative. The Child Representative will contact you when he or she is ready.
The Child Representative's role will end shortly after the Court makes a final order after he or she informs the child of the final court order and its implications. The Child Representative will however prepare the child in advance for that time.
The removal of a Child Representative is at the discretion of the Court. The Court may remove the Child Representative on its own initiative.
You or the parent of the child or any other party to the case may apply to the Court to have the Child Representative removed. The Court will only do this in exceptional cases where the circumstances warrant, including where there is evidence that the Child Representative:
- is acting against the child's best interests;
- is not doing the job professionally; and/or
- has a conflict of interest.
You should get legal advice if you want to ask the Court to remove the Child Representative. Costs can be ordered against you if you are unsuccessful in making this application.
Remuneration of a Child Representative
A Child Representative will be remunerated by the parties unless the party is legally aided. The Court has the discretion to make any cost orders. Cost will however be in two tiers. The first tier of costs is fixed at $1,000.
The Child Representative may apply to Court for more costs to be paid in the next tier depending on the complexity of the case and amount of work required to be done. The Court will have the discretion on how to apportion such costs between the parties.
For information on the selection criteria and process for appointment to the Child Representative Panel, refer to the following documents: