Will I get what I want?
Not always, but sometimes. The ICL will sometimes tell the judge what you want, but mostly they will tell the judge all the other things they think are important. The judge has to decide what is best for you – which sometimes will be the same as what you want, and sometimes may not.
How do judges decide what is best for children?
Judges know a lot about families like yours where parents don’t live together anymore. It is their job to make a decision when parents can’t agree about important family things. They will do this by finding out what you and your parents want and then try to make the best decision for everyone. You do not meet the judge or go into the courtroom. But you do have a chance to let the judge know your thoughts and feelings by meeting and talking to a family consultant. The family consultant then tells the judge about you and your family by writing a report for the judge to read. This is called a ‘family report’.
Why do I see the family consultant?
Because the judge needs to know a bit about you and what you feel about what has happened in your family. The family consultant can tell the judge these things in the family report. Family consultants are experts on families and kids, and will make sure the judge knows all of the important details about your family.
Watch this video for more information.
Do I have to say anything?
You don’t have to say anything to the family consultant if you don’t want to. Some children don’t want to tell the family consultant things that might upset their parents. Other children want to tell the family consultant about what they think even if their parents get upset. It is up to you to decide how much or how little you want to say.
Who else gets to know what I say?
The family consultant will write a family report about the things that you and your family talk about. The judge, your parents and their lawyers will read the report. You can ask the family consultant to tell you what is going to be in the report, but they may not always know this at the time. Many children worry about what their parents will think when they read about what they have said. If you have any worries like that, tell the family consultant. It is their job to try and help you parents and the judge understand what is important to you.