Will I get what I want?
The judge will always make decisions that are in the best interests of the young person. At times this is the same as what you want… at times it is not. You need to be assured that the judge learns lots about your family (maybe even things you don’t know) and will always make decisions that are in your best interests over the long term.
How do judges decide what is best for children?
Judges get information from a variety of sources. Usually, both your parents will write something for the Court. The judge may also hear from other important people in your life, such as a teacher, grandparents, or counsellor. The ICL (if one has been appointed) will also contribute. The role of the family consultant is to do a thorough assessment with you and your family, and provide expert information to the Court about what is happening and what might work well in the future. In total, the judge has access to a huge amount of information and will work through this information carefully to ensure he or she makes an order that works best for you.
What is a family consultant?
Family consultants are experts (psychologists and social workers) who work for the Court to help judges understand about families. They talk to parents and young people, then write a report for the judge. The judge will make a decision if parents can’t agree, and they are often helped by the report from a family consultant.
Do I have to say anything?
You don’t have to say anything to the family consultant if you don’t want to. Some young people are keen to tell family consultants about their experiences and what they want in the future. Other teenagers become less involved in the process. It’s up to you, but keep in mind that this is an opportunity for your parents, and the judge, to hear what you think.
Who else gets to know what I say?
The family consultant prepares a report that will be read by your parents and the judge, so this may include things you talk about in your meeting. If you are worried about what will be put in the report, talk to the family consultant about your concerns.