Appointment of Child Representative Lawyer in Conflict Cases
Ms Gloria James is a Child Representative Lawyer appointed by the courts, trusted with the responsibility of representing and safeguarding the interest of children in court proceedings.
What is a Child Representative?
A Child Representative is a neutral third party who represents your child’s best interests and does his/her best to advance the child’s best interest at family court proceedings. A Child Representative does not take an observatory role in court proceedings but instead he/she brings to the court’s attention with matters relating to the child’s interest and facilitate all communication between the child and the court. This encourages any decision to be made with reference to the child’s best interest.
A Child Representative does not represent the interests of the parents and accordingly does not give the parents legal advice. The Child Representative’s duties lie with the child. The rules governing the appointment and role of a Child Representative in contained in section 30 – 34 of the Family Justice Rules 2014.
When and how is a Child Representative appointed?
The Child Representative represents the voice of the child and presents an objective assessment of the arrangements which are in the best interests of the child.
In order to be appointed as a Child Representative, that individual has to on the Child Representative Panel. He/she will have to show that they have practised at least 7 years in family law, be an accredited mediator and provide two references. The Child Representative is expected to have the experience working with children.
In cases where a child is party of any action or where the action involves a child or the custody or welfare of the child, the Family Justice Courts, in their discretion, may order that a Child Representative be appointed. The court would make such an appointment where it is of the view that it is in the best interests of the child to do so. Some examples of when the court may think it appropriate to appoint a Child Representative includes high-conflict proceedings involving disputes over custody of and access to children or highly acrimonious situations.
Alternatively, parties can also request that the Court appoints a Child Representative by informing the court why it is important to do so in their case. Parties may have to contribute towards the costs of the Child Representative.
How will the Child Representative assess the child’s best interests?
The Child Representative will spend time with the child to understand the child’s views towards the discussed arrangements relating to the child and explain to the child the legal proceedings in a language and manner he/she understands.
In his/her assessment, the Child Representative may also ask for reports from teachers, counsellors or other professionals who are in contact with the child; he/she also helps to facilitate with the child and the parents’ cooperation with other professionals and to explain the process and purposes of meetings with the other professionals to them.
The Child Representative may also arrange a meeting with parties and/or their lawyers to talk about issues affecting the child. In some instances, these meetings help parties to arrive at a settlement or consensus following which the lawyers or the Child Representative may inform the Court accordingly to record a Consent Order.
What happens to the Child Representative after a final court order is made?
The Child Representative will prepare the child in advance of the end of his/her role. The Child Representative’s role will end shortly after the court makes a final order. After which, he/she informs the child of the final court order and its implications.
Can a Child Representative be removed?
The Court may exercise its discretion in the removal of a Child Representative on its own initiative.
The court may exercise its discretion in the removal of a Child Representative on its own initiative.
Parents 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 circumstances where there is evidence that the Child Representative:
- Has a conflict of interest
- Is acting against the best interests of the child
- Is not doing his/her job professionally
Parents of the child or any other party to the proceedings who wishes to apply to have the Child Representative removed should seek legal advice first as costs may be ordered against the applicant if they are unsuccessful.
As one of Singapore`s largest matrimonial law departments, our team of Family Law Specialists, Trained Mediators, Collaborative Lawyers and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners are able to dedicate considerable resources to ensuring our clients achieve the best possible results on their cases.
We don’t just practice family law – we specialise in it. That’s how we have grown to become one of Singapore`s biggest matrimonial law teams