I have just had the opportunity to listen to a talk on the different models of child representation in different jurisdictions – in particular the US, Canada and the UK.
I don’t know what level of involvement you have had with an Independent Children’s Lawyer in our family law system. At this present point in time, our system works on a best interest model with some Independent Children Lawyers not necessarily meeting with the child (depending on the state in which they practice) but, rather, leaving it to a social worker or other expert to meet with them and prepare a report.
It was interesting to hear that there is both instructed and best interest models in other jurisdictions; but more interesting was that there are models in which the child representation was done on a team approach. Instead of appointing one lawyer, they would appoint a team that consisted of lawyers, social workers, other experts and administration staff. Together they would work with the child not only to represent them in the proceedings but to also put them in touch with the services and assistance that they needed to move forward.
The idea of a team approach with respects to child representation is one that I personally find intriguing and worth further investigation here in Australia. If we could get a team of professionals together to work with children and families in a collaborative and focussed way we may achieve so much more than what our current system enables us to do.
What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.