The short answer to this question is yes! Children who are the subjects of family law proceedings can have their own lawyers. The purpose of hiring a lawyer for a child is to give that child a voice in the proceedings.
Most judges will not interview children or allow them to testify in court. How then, can a child’s wishes be considered during proceedings? Hiring or appointing a lawyer to act for the child is one way to do so.
Lawyers can be retained privately or appointed through Legal Aid. When the lawyer meets with the child he or she will assess whether the child is able to appreciate the instructions they are giving and the consequences of those instructions. If a child can understand the consequences of their instructions, the lawyer can act using an “Instructional Advocacy” approach. This means the lawyer will tell the court and the parties involved what the child wants. If a child cannot understand the consequences, the lawyer can act as “amicus curiae”. This means the lawyer is a friend of the court, whose goal is to advance the best interest of the child.
When I represent children, they are my boss and I work for them. We will discuss the options available, and the pros and cons of each option (like I would with an adult client), but ultimately, I act based on the wishes of my client (the child) and not for the parents or caregivers.Hiring lawyers for children is a relatively new phenomenon, but is becoming more common. Lawyers have been acting for children in child protection matters for longer and more relatively common
If you think your child might benefit from their own lawyer, call us for more information.