REPRESENTATION OF CHILDREN BEFORE THE COURTS

The Civil Code of Québec affords children three basic rights.

  • Parents, or persons acting as parents, are required to furnish the child with protection, security and affection.
  • Children have the right to be heard by the court in cases involving their futures, provided they are of sufficient age and possess the maturity and sensibility to voice an educated opinion.
  • The rights of children are to be respected at all times and the decisions made by the court affecting the child should always protect the child’s best interests and well-bein

While every child is different and as parents we want to believe that our child is the most intelligent and articulate child and can express themselves without concern, it is important to keep in mind that they remain children.

For the most part, children should be exempted from being part of court proceedings unless there are extenuating circumstances that warrant they being appointed an attorney.

Who are these attorneys representing children?

When the parties agree on custody and access rights, there is no need for an attorney to be appointed to a child.  But you may want to present a request for an attorney for your child if, amongst other things:

  • You and the other parent disagree about custody or access rights,
  • You are worried about your child’s safety (child abuse, domestic violence, etc.)
These are just 2 examples and the possibility of appointing an attorney for your child should be discussed with an attorney.The age that is normally seen as appropriate for a child to have an attorney and be represented before the court is 12 years old. However, we have seen children as young as 8 years old be represented by an attorney due to the important circumstances in a file. It is extremely rare and definitely not the norm.

Having an attorney appointed to a child is obviously a very delicate matter.

You do not want the child to feel as though they are being interrogated and choosing. When speaking with the child, you are not necessarily asking them direct questions but rather allowing them to talk to you about their parents and it is by doing this that attorney will be able to understand the child’s situation and what the child wants.

At no time, does the child’s attorney make recommendations to either the child or the court or either party based on what they believe is best for the child.

They are simply there to inform about what has been related to them by the child.

What sort of situations can appointing an attorney cause?

 

Unfortunately, family proceedings may sometimes be very emotional and anger ridden. Once a child expresses their desires and wishes and it becomes known to the parties, one parent may feel rejected. It is always important to remember that children are not involved in the whole divorce or separation process but their opinions should be considered if necessary for their wellbeing.

Please do not hesitate to communicate with our firm in order to discuss appointing an attorney to your child or any other family law related issues you may be concerned by.

514-499-2010

Ofelia Lamanna, Attorney

Azran & Associés Avocats inc.

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