Perhaps you have heard the terms child advocate, child representative, child procedural representative as well as procedural advocate or process advocate. All of these have essentially the same meaning, namely that they are lawyers for children. However, we always talk about the legal representation of the child.
Legal representatives for children are tasked with supporting and representing you during legal procedures with any (difficult) legal issues. For example, if:
- your parents are unable to agree on very important issues and perhaps they are arguing a lot. Or perhaps they are separating or divorcing and both want you to live with them most of the time.
- your parents are unable to represent you on legal issues because they are suffering from ill health. Or maybe they can’t represent you because they do not understand the language or the culture enough to help.
- it is an extremely personal and important question and your parents have a different opinion from you.
- you have been summoned by the police, juvenile court or public prosecutor’s office. (Find out more in the section accused young people)
At the first meeting, your legal representative will listen to you and find out what the issue is about. Then you discuss your situation together and the legal representative will explain the options that you now have. Together, you decide on the next steps. Everything that you discuss with your legal representative is confidential. This means that we will not share your information with anyone else without your consent.
Usually, legal representatives can talk about anything and everything with young people and older children. With smaller children, however, this is sometimes not so easy. Then, the legal representative has to try other ways of finding out what the child wants. The legal representatives will always stand up for the rights of children and young people, no matter how old they are. They are there so that your wishes and needs are heard by the adults.
It is important to know that your legal representative is not your parents' lawyer or the lawyer from a public law office or institution. He or she may talk to your parents but they will always only represent you and your wishes.
If you feel that you need legal representation or if you are not sure about what to do, then give us a call. We will be happy to discuss the situation with you. Maybe we can already help you without legal representation. And if not, we can explain in more detail what legal representatives do and how you can apply for legal representation.
Sometimes, for example, the judges or the KESB (Child and Adult Protection Authorities) make the decision that you need legal representation. In these cases, they will find somebody for you. If you have a social worker (Beistand), he or she can also apply for legal representation for you.
Legal representation will not cost you anything for you. Either your parents can pay for you or, if they don’t have enough money, they can apply for financial assistance to help with the costs.