Legal Representation for Children

Children and young people may need their own solicitor if they are involved in court proceedings or a children's hearing. Our family lawyers can explain the legal situation and process in simple terms so a child or young person can understand and participate.

The majority of children and young people will be entitled to legal aid, though in some situations the financial circumstances of their parents may be taken into account in deciding whether they are financially eligible.

 

What is a Child Welfare Hearing?
Court actions concerning children and young people usually involve a Child Welfare Hearing (not to be confused with a Children’s Hearing). A Child Welfare Hearing is conducted in court in private. All the adults involved must attend and this should be an opportunity for all issues about children to be discussed. Children do not usually attend.

It is usually at this stage that the court needs to consider how to find out what a child’s wishes are, and whether the child needs his or her own solicitor. A child does not have to have their own solicitor in order to express a view to the court. Sometimes this is done by the court appointing a reporter to investigate and report to the court on the child’s welfare and wishes. Sometimes it is done by the child filling in a form setting out his/her wishes.

A child aged 12 or more is assumed to be able to understand enough about the court process to instruct his/her own solicitor. The child can meet in private with a solicitor and instruct the solicitor to put forward the child’s views to the court and seek court orders. Sometimes children younger than 12 are mature enough to do this too.

Our family lawyers are experienced at representing children in court. Some of them also regularly prepare reports for the courts and are experienced at assisting children to express their views and wishes.

If you are a parent, carer or someone working with a child or young person who is involved in court proceedings and wishes to have advice from a solicitor, make an appointment for the child to meet with one of our family lawyers and discuss this with us. The majority of children and young people will be entitled to legal aid, though in some situations the financial circumstances of their parents may be taken into account in deciding whether they are financially eligible.

The Children (Scotland) Bill 2020 making courts more child friendly

New laws to make family court proceedings in Scotland more child-friendly have been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

The Children (Scotland) Bill will require all children's views to be heard and taken account of in family cases, subject to limited exceptions, removing the presumption that only children over 12 are mature enough to be heard.

The court should also aim to use a child's preferred method of giving their views and explain decisions in ways the child can understand.

Child contact centres will have to meet minimum criteria, such as accommodation and staff training standards, and child welfare reporters must be on a newly established register, before either can be appointed by the court.

The bill also places a duty on local authorities to consider how to maintain contact between brothers and sisters should they become looked after outside the family home, and introduces a new participation scheme for siblings affected by children’s hearing proceedings.

I am aged 16 or over - can I claim financial support from my parents?
Parents have financial obligations to young people in appropriate full time education or training up to and including the age of twenty four. Between the ages of sixteen and eighteen financial support for a young person can be paid from one parent to the other or from the parent to the young person direct. Where the support is for a young person of eighteen and over the support is paid to the young person.

If you are a young person in full time education or training and wish to have advice from a solicitor, make an appointment with one of our family lawyers to discuss this.

The majority of children and young people will be entitled to legal aid, though in some situations the financial circumstances of their parents may be taken into account in deciding whether they are financially eligible.

 

Children's Hearings

see our page here

 

Are you a young person, parent, carer or someone working with a child or young person who needs legal advice?

Make an appointment with one of our family lawyers

 

Factsheets (pdf)

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