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CUSTODY, CARE AND CONTROL OF CHILDREN

It is more common for the Family Justice Court to appoint a Child Representative or to call for certain types of Reports to enable the judge to make an informed decision about custody battles.

A common question asked in cases involving care and control of children is this – How does the court hear the voice and wishes of the children?

Children are generally not allowed to give evidence.  In some situations,where the children are of a matured age, the court may talk to them.  However, this is rare.

It is more common for the Family Justice Court to appoint a Child Representative or to call for certain types of Reports to enable the judge to make an informed decision about custody battles.

Child Representative

The court may appoint a Child Representative in any action or proceeding involving a child or the custody or welfare of a child.

A Child Representative is a third party individual appointed by the court to act in the best interests of the child. The decisions that the Child Representative makes will be a reflection of what they think will benefit the child the most after observation of the child. The Child Representative will not take into consideration what the parents want for themselves.

A  Child Representative will do the following:

  • Act in the best interest of the child.
  • Offer an objective insight into the matters concerning the child.
  • Interact and learn more about the child and how they live their daily lives.
  • Observe the child and the family and how the child interacts with the parents.
  • Talk and listen to the child’s feelings to understand what the child wants.
  • Represent the voice of the child in court.

 Custody Evaluation Report (“CER”)

When there is a child custody dispute, the courts may ask the Ministry of Social and Family Development to conduct an investigation and produce a “Custody Evaluation Report” before deciding on custody matters.

A Child Welfare Officer from the Ministry will conduct the investigation and produce a Report for the court.

The Custody Evaluation Report may contain the following information:

  • Offer an objective insight into the matters concerning the child.
  • how the child interacts with the parents.
  • what the child wants.
  • Represent the voice of the child in court.
  • investigate any allegations of ill treatment by a parent against the child.