HELP Toolkit: Identifying and Responding to Family Violence for Family Law Legal Advisers – Supplemental Material

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Tab #14: Talking to a Child Client about Family Violence

This document aims to support legal advisers who represent child clients in family law cases and provides high-level guidance on talking to a child about family violence. Most family law legal advisers do not represent children, but some specialize in this area. In addition to specialized training in child development and age appropriate questioning, legal advisers who represent children should also have training and expertise in family violence and childhood trauma before they talk to child clients about family violence.

Please note:

1. Talking to a child client about their experience

Child clients have varied levels of capacity to feel safe to engage with you, to answer questions and to identify their needs. Some general tips about talking to a child client about family violence are set out below.

2. Asking about family violence

When discussing family violence with children, it is important to adapt questions to the age and maturity of your client. Below are some examples of ways to adapt questions for use with child clients.

3. The impact of family violence on the family law case

4. Connecting with resources

Depending on your client’s situation, it may be important to talk to them about how you can help connect them with people in their community who can support them to address their experiences of violence or prevent further harm. Remember that any outside referral should be made only with the client’s consent, unless you have a legal duty or professional responsibility to report. See Tab #12: Making Referrals.