When you go through the Family Court to sort out disputes about children, the judge often appoints an independent lawyer for the children. This lawyer is called the lawyer for the child.
The judge will decide if you and the other people involved in the case have to pay some of the lawyer for child's costs.
The lawyer for the child:
Sometimes the lawyer will ask the child if they want to meet the judge and sometimes the judge will ask to meet them. Usually, the meeting will only involve the judge, a court official, the child and the lawyer for the child.
The lawyer must meet with the child, unless the judge agrees there are exceptional circumstances and it is not appropriate for the lawyer to meet with the child.
In most cases though, the lawyer for the child will meet with the child (sometimes more than once) without either parent being at the meeting. This might be at home, at school, at the lawyer’s office or some other place.
The child doesn’t have to talk to the lawyer, but most children like being able to talk to someone about what’s happening. The lawyer for the child may ask the child what they think about particular issues that have been raised in the court case.
What the child says to their lawyer is confidential. The lawyer can’t tell anyone else what the child said if the child doesn’t want them to; except if the lawyer finds out the child or someone else may be unsafe.
The lawyer for the child might also spend time with each parent separately and with other people who are important in the child’s life. This might be members of the wider family, whānau, teachers or social workers. Who the lawyer talks to will depend on the facts of the case.
You don’t have to talk to the lawyer for the child. However, it’s a good way to: