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When a child may need to go to court

Examples of when a child or young person may be asked to attend court include:

Type of case

Young persons may....

A criminal case in the State Courts or Supreme Court

Attend court hearings as a witness.

An application involving family violence, custody, care and control, or access to a child in the Family Justice Courts

(Examples of cases include divorce, protection against family violence, guardianship, child protection or family guidance)

Participate in counselling, interviews, family conferences, or other family dispute resolution programmes. They may also be asked to attend court hearings as a witness.

Note: For youth arrest cases, youth offenders may need to attend a hearing.

How to prepare a child as a witness

If your child needs to give evidence as a witness in court, ensure they understand all of the following:

  • They need to tell the truth.
  • They should only answer questions that they understand.
    • If they do not understand, they can inform the court that they do not understand. The question may be repeated or rephrased for them.
    • If they do not remember, they can inform the court that they do not remember.
  • If they feel tired or need to go to the toilet, they may inform the court that they need a break.

What a child may experience in court depends on the type of case they are going to court for. Refer to the following resources for more information:

Type of case

Resources

For State Courts or Supreme Court criminal cases

Picture books for the child

For State Courts criminal cases

Resources for caregivers

For Family Justice Courts cases

Video for the child

On the day of the trial, ensure your child is dressed appropriately. View the guidelines on the dress code for attending court. You may choose to bring a jacket or sweater for the child as they may feel cold in court.

Support programmes

There are different programmes to support a child or young person:

The State Courts and Family Justice Courts offer programmes that provides emotional support to vulnerable witnesses. These include persons below 18 years old who are required to give evidence in court for an event that may cause them fear or anxiety to recall (such as family violence).

A trained volunteer can accompany and support the vulnerable witness during the hearing. Find out more about the programmes to support vulnerable witnesses.

The court may appoint a child representative to serve as the voice of the child and advocate for the child's best interest.

You may also request to the court for a child representative. Find out more about child representatives.


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