What children and young people are saying about family separation and family law
Parents separate or divorce in many families and it can be a stressful and upsetting time. Everyone’s experience will be different but most children and young people adjust in time and do well.
If your parents are separating or are involved in the Family Court it is important that you are well supported throughout the process. You have the right to be heard and express your views on all of the issues and decisions being made about you.
In 2018, the Commissioner spoke with children and young people about their experiences of family separation and their ideas of how to improve the services and support they receive. These views were sent in a report to the Australian Law Reform Commission, who are reviewing the family law system in Australia, and to the Family Court of WA.
Young people told the Commissioner it was important:
- for each of their parents to have open and respectful communication with them during and after separation
- to be listened to by their parents and by service providers
- to be treated fairly
- for professionals to be respectful, do their jobs well and take action when young people tell them they are not safe
- that there is more education about separation in families, in the community and in schools so professionals, adults and other children and young people are more understanding.
Help and support
Info about the legal process
Legal Aid WA
Legal Aid lawyers and support workers can help people in WA to get information and legal services. They have lots of resources for children whose parents are separating, including videos, information booklets and services.
The When Separating videos provide an introduction to family separation and some of the issues you may encounter if this happens in your family.
Legal Aid NSW
Two of these videos explain what happens when your parents go to court:
Family Court of Australia
The Family Court of Australia has specialist judges and other staff to help resolve very difficult legal family matters when adults can’t come to an agreement on their own.
The Kids & young people section of the Family Court website provides links to information for 5-8 year olds, 9-12 year olds, and teenagers. In each section, there is information, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and videos.
Independent Children’s Lawyers
The role of an Independent Children’s Lawyer if you have one is to make sure the court is told about your views and what you think is important. You can read more about them here, and can also download brochures and other information.