Helping children deal with difficult life issues is all in a day's work for an independent children's lawyer

Helping children deal with difficult life issues is all in a day's work for an independent children's lawyer

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Senior Family Lawyer Christal Augustin, an accredited specialist in family law, recently helped 11-year-old Beth*, who did not want to spend time with her father following her parents' separation.

Before her parents’ separation Beth had a good relationship with her father but she had been influenced by the fact that her older siblings were not spending time with him, for their own reasons.

A court-commissioned report about the family said it was not in her best interests to spend time with her father at this stage and recommended that Beth’s mother be given sole responsibility for Beth’s long-term welfare.

Beth was very clear when she spoke to Christal that she did not want to see her father and if orders were made she would not follow them.

Considering Beth’s wishes and what was best for her in the long term, Christal felt it would be counterproductive to force Beth to spend time with her father but that their relationship was nonetheless important.

‘I thought that removing parental responsibility from Beth’s father would affect any possible reconciliation, which would not be a good outcome for Beth.

‘Ultimately I recommended to the court that the parties should have joint responsibility for Beth and that Beth’s father should be kept informed about her address, receive copies of school reports and be allowed to send cards and gifts to her. I thought it was important to leave the door open for reconciliation.’

At the trial the parties eventually agreed with Christal’s recommendation and the matter was finalised.

Christal said the role of an independent children’s lawyer (ICL) involves drawing on your specialist training and weighing up what is best for a child who might be in a complicated family situation.

‘As an ICL you think about the child and their life and make recommendations to the court that are in the child’s best interests. ICL work requires a different mindset compared to when you act for adult clients,’ she said.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

More information

The role of an independent children’s lawyer

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