Guardians are sometimes appointed by the court where independent representation is needed for a child. It is the duty of a children’s guardian to conduct proceedings fairly and competently on behalf of the child. Their main task is:
- To make sure the Family Court knows what the child thinks about the application before the Court which includes wishes and feelings; and
- To advise the Court what might be a good plan for the child going forward.
More importantly, the Guardian needs to ensure that the child is safe and act if they believe they are not.
When the Court appoints a Guardian for a child, a solicitor is appointed to represent the Guardian. The court usually requests a formal report from the Guardian. There are a few steps the Guardian needs to take to complete this including seeing the child in their parents’ care, interviewing the parties to the application, speaking with the child’s school, and reviewing any updated documents requested by the Court. Once all the above is complete, the Guardian will then file their report.
The Guardian will bear in mind the welfare checklist in Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 which covers:
- The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of their age and understanding);
- The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs;
- The likely effect on the child of any change in their circumstances;
- The child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics which the Court considers relevant;
- Any harm which they have suffered or is at risk of suffering;
- How capable each of the child’s parents, and any other person in relation to whom the Court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting the child’s needs;
- The range of powers available to the Court under this act in the proceedings in question.
It is important for all parties involved in an application regarding a child, to know what the role of a Guardian is.
Maxwell Hodge has a dedicated family team who can advise you and can offer a fixed fee consultation at a reasonable cost.