Independent Children's Lawyers
We know that it is really hard for everyone when parents separate - especially kids. Sometimes when parents cannot agree, the Family Courts will appoint a lawyer for the kids called the Independent Children's Lawyer. You will find links and information about this and other topics here.
The featured video explains the role of the Independent Children's Lawyer in more detail.
Independent children's lawyer for parents
Sports Ground (Junior Soccer) - Day
A busy Saturday morning sports field. Junior soccer teams everywhere. We see Dad with Matthew. Dad is helping tie the boot laces.
Don't be afraid to get in there all right. Just because they look big doesn't mean they're tough.
Dad, could I go to soccer camp.
Course you can. I already signed you up.
But Mum says I can't.
Why would she say that?
Cause she wants to visit Aunt Evelyn.
During the holiday week?
We're going to stay with them on the farm.
Is that right? Well she doesn't know you're the next Messi. Does she? aye? Off you go. I'll fix it.
Matt runs off to join the team. Dad thinks about the conversation. He dials a number on his phone. We can see he's angry.
The back of a car - In the sports park - Daytime
Nonna and Sara are sitting in the back reading a book together.
Dad walks up to the car. Nonna notices that Dad's bothered by something.
Just had a conversation with the Erica...
She won't let Matt do the camp. I'm sick of it!
Son, you've got just as much right as she has. She has never worked a day in her life, and all she thinks about is herself. She never thinks about these kids.
We see that little Sara listens to the angry comments about her mother.
Go to the family court. Get them to give you equal time. Then at least you've got some control.
We hear Dad thinking...
It wasn't just the thing about the soccer camp. We'd been fighting for years over all sorts of issues. I felt it was time to draw a line in the sand. I wanted to be a dad to my kids. Not just the weekend supervisor.
Outside mum's house - Day
Mum walks from the car to the house, carrying groceries. Matt and Sarah are in school uniforms.
Get your bags please...
Mum stops to read a letter from the post box. We hear her thoughts...
Mum (voice over):
First I heard of it is when I got a letter from a lawyer he'd talked to. I mean we'd had this big fight over Matthew and the fact that I wouldn't let him go to soccer camp, but I didn't think he'd go to court.
Doco style interview
We see mum talking to camera. (a continuation of her thoughts we were listening to in the previous scene).
Mum (to camera interview):
I mean, how's he going to look after Sarah if he has her 4 days a week? He just leaves her with his mum half the time. And now she's started pre-school. I mean how is that supposed to work?
Dad's lawyer's office - Day
Dad is talking to a private family law practitioner.
So can I get equal time with the kids? Like a proper 50/50 split?
Well a lot of parents think that they can share care of the kids on a 50/50 basis. But its doesn't always work out like that.
Family Law is not about the rights of either parent. It's about the rights of children, to a safe parenting environment and to having a good relationship with both parents. The Court might make an order for 50/50 time or it might decide on a very different arrangement - something that neither parent is happy with.
But if there's a lot of conflict - the court's less likely to make an order for equal time. They'll be focusing on what's best for the children.
Legal Aid reception - Day
Mum arrives at Legal Aid Reception.
I want to see someone about a Family Law issue.
My husband is going to court to get the kids. I want to get some legal advice.
Interview room Legal Aid office - Day
Mum discusses options with a Legal Aid Lawyer.
Legal Aid Lawyer:
Now before you get to a hearing in a court, in most cases parties are required to try a mediation. At Legal Aid, you can have a lawyer to assist you, if you want. So if you qualify for a grant of aid, there will be a lawyer with you at the mediation.
To be honest, I don't think mediation is going to achieve much. I was really hoping that the Courts could talk some common sense in to him about what's best for the kids. He works shifts, you know. Realistically he can't look after them.
Legal Aid Lawyer:
Well mediation is a good way to for you to step through those issues and to come up with a plan that can really work for the kids.
Dad's lawyer's office - Day
We tried mediation once before - we were having problems, and she booked us into a couple of mediation sessions.
That was probably relationship counselling. Which is quite different.
Yeah, well it didn't work.
Family mediation is a dispute resolution process that focuses on you and your partner resolving practical issues in relation to your parenting and working out what's best for your children. You have to put the children first, and if do come to an agreement, you can ask the court to make an order which is binding and enforceable.
And if we can't?
Then we can apply to the Family Courts and ask a judge to decide.
Background scene of a courtroom.
int. Doco style interview
Dad talks to Camera (interview style).
Dad (to camera):
The lawyer explained some of the pros and cons of going to Court. Sometimes you can spend a lot of time and money and end up worse off. If you let the Court decide, you have to accept the referee's decision. So as bad as things were getting between Erica and me, it made sense to try mediation.
This story and the characters in it are made-up and not based on any actual people or their situation.
For more information about this video visit www.bestforkids.org.au
The information in this video is a general guide to the law. It should not be relied on as legal advice and it is recommended you talk to a lawyer about your particular situation. At the time of production, the information shown is correct but may be subject to change.
If you need legal help or referral contact: LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 or www.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au.
Copyright Legal Aid NSW August 2011.
Produced by eegenda.
- Independent Children's Lawyer - for parents explains the role of the Independent Children's lawyer.
- A national website about Independent Children’s Lawyers.
- Children and international travel after family separation
- The Federal Circuit Court has information, services and programs to assist in disputes about children: Some important links are listed below.
- The role of the Independent Children’s Lawyer.
- Child Dispute Services
- Child Dispute Conferences
- Child Inclusive Conferences
- Some disputes about children are heard in the family court. Here is some information to assist:
- Child Responsive Program.
- What you need to know if your case is in the Family Court.
- Family Court of Australia information on the Less Adversarial Trial.
- What you need to know about the appeal process in the Family Court.
- Family Court information on the Magellan program to deal with cases involving serious allegations of physical and sexual child abuse.
- Family Consultants is a fact sheet which explains the role of family consultants in cases about children. Also see the Frequently Asked Questions factsheet.
- Family Report is a fact sheet which includes information about what happens when the Court orders a family report.
- Is a Family Report being prepared in your matter? Everything you need to know about a family report.
- What is an Independent Children’s Lawyer: A fact sheet about the role of the Independent Children’s Lawyer.
- What happens when your parents go to court: for over 10 years old? A fact sheet for young people about what happens when their parents go to court.
- What happens when your parents go to court: for under 10 years old? A fact sheet for children about what happens when their parents go to court.