The wishes of the children can be taken into account depending on the maturity and level of understanding of the children and the reasons for the children’s wishes. In certain circumstances, the Family Court can order the appointment of an independent lawyer to represent the children and help the court determine what is best for them.
The court will not hear from the children directly, instead it will get information from other witnesses about what a child may want. To help it decide what should be done, the court can ask the Family Court Counselling Service to prepare a Family Report.
Sometimes, the court will order that a child have separate legal representation. A child representative is a lawyer who works out what is in the child’s best interests and explains it to the court. While there are no rules about which parent will get a residence or contact order, the court does not like to disturb long standing living arrangements without good reason, and it is usually reluctant to take a very young child from its mother. Also, the court does not like to separate children in a family unless there are good reasons for doing so.