What will happen if the Department decides to remove my children? 

 

image of courtIf the Department decide that they need to take action to protect your children, they may remove your children and start legal action.

 

 

 

image of a watchIf this happens, there are time limits that say when the Department needs to start a case in the Children’s Court or Youth Court.

 

 

 

image of a gavelThe laws about when the Department can remove children and the time limits that apply are different in each State and Territory.

 

 

 

image of child and parent huggingSometimes, the Department may take legal action and go to court while your children are still in your care.

 

 

 

 

image of legal adviceYou don’t have to wait until a case goes to court to speak to a lawyer. If the Department becomes involved with your family, you should get legal adviceACTNSWNTQldSATasVicWA as soon as possible.

 

 

 

image of person giving evidenceOnce your case is in the Children’s Court or Youth Court, the Department needs to show the court that action (for example – removing your children) was necessary to protect your children or to make sure they are properly cared for.

 

 

 

image of a family meetingIf your matter goes to court, it’s important to try to work with the Department, even if you don’t agree with the reasons they are getting involved with your family. See tips for working with the Department.

See resources for more information.

 

====================== Collapse Start Here. Do not Edit Here ========================

image of legal adviceAfter a matter goes to court, there are many different types of orders that the court can make. The types of Care Orders that can be made are different in each State and Territory so you should get legal adviceACTNSWNTQldSATasVicWA.

 

 

 

image of a care orderThey can also be called Care and Protection Orders, Child Protection Orders or Protection Orders depending on which State or Territory you are in. Also see resources for more information about the different types of Care Orders.

 

 

 

Care Orders can includes things like:

image of a house• orders about who makes decisions about your children’s daily life and the big long-term decisions like who cares for them, where they live, where they go to school and what medical treatment they get. This could be by you, the other parent, the Department, someone else (such as a family member) or by a combination of these people

 

 

 

• orders about how much contact you children should have with you, other family members and other important people

 

 

 

 

image of supervised time• orders that return your children to your care but places your children under the ‘supervision’ of the Department which allows them to monitor your children’s safety, welfare and wellbeing

 

 

 

 

image of phone contact• orders that you, or anyone else who is caring for your children, give promises (called ‘undertakings’) to the court about what you will do or not do in the future

 

 

 

 

image of person thinking about child• orders that you, or anyone else who is caring for you children, cannot do certain things.
 

 

 

 

 

The court can make one or many of these orders at the same time.

 

The court can make these orders on a temporary basis― called interim orders. The court can also make these orders as final orders. The court will say how long the order will last for – sometimes, for a short period or sometimes until your children turn 18.

 

 

image of a protection orderIn some States and Territories, the Children’s Court or Youth Court can also make or change a Domestic Violence Order during a care and protection case. You can get legal adviceACTNSWNTQldSATasVicWA about this.

====================== Collapse Ends Here. Do not Edit Here ========================

image of an ICL with a childThe court can appoint a lawyer to represent your child in a care and protection case.

  • Sometimes the lawyer represents your child’s best interests and makes recommendations to the court about what they think is best for them. This may be different to what your child wants.
  • Sometimes, if your child is older, the lawyer has to follow what your child says and tell the court what your child wants.

image of legal adviceThe way it works depends on which State or Territory you are in, you can get legal adviceACTNSWNTQldSATasVicWA about this.

====================== Collapse Ends Here. Do not Edit Here ========================

====================== Collapse Start Here. Do not Edit Here ========================

image of child running to parentOne of the most important decisions the court will make is whether or not your children can be returned to your care.

 

 

 

 

image of child with umbrellaIn making this decision, the court will consider whether or not you have addressed issues affecting your parenting and whether your children will be safe and properly cared for if they are returned to your care. This can include showing the court that your children will not be exposed to domestic and family violence if they come back to live with you.

 

 

 

image of legal adviceThe laws about when children can be returned to their family are a little bit different in each State and Territory, so you should get legal adviceACTNSWNTQldSATasVicWA.

 

 

 

image of child being led awaySometimes, children are returned to live with family straight away. Sometimes, children will stay living with someone else for a short period while you meet certain goals for them to be returned. And sometimes, children stay in care until they become adults. It will depend on your situation, so you should get legal adviceACTNSWNTQldSATasVicWA.

 

 

 

image of a lightbulbFor some practical tips about what may help you get your children back, see what can I do to help me get my children back? You should also get legal adviceACTNSWNTQldSATasVicWA about your situation.

====================== Collapse Ends Here. Do not Edit Here ========================

====================== Collapse Start Here. Do not Edit Here ========================

image of child being led awayIf the Department decides to remove your child from your care, you may want them to stay with a family member or friend.

 

 

image of a houseThat person will need to be a suitable carer and their house will need to be a safe place for your children to live.

 

 

image of older person sitting in chairThe Department can ‘assess’ your family members to see whether they can be approved as your children’s carers. This can sometimes take some time – so it is important that you give the Department the details of anyone in your family who you want to care for your children, as early as possible.

 

 

image of legal adviceIf the Department does not approve that person to be your children’s carer, then it may be up to court to decide who should care for your children. Your family member or friend may need to get legal advice about their options. You should also get legal adviceACTNSWNTQldSATasVicWA.

 

 

image of a familyEven if you hope that your children will be returned to your care at the end of the case, it is usually a good idea to put forward family members who might be able to care for them.

 

 

 

This way your family members can care for your children while the court case is happening, even if your children are returned to your care later. If your children are not returned to your care, sometimes having them live with family can be a good back-up plan.

 

What about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children?

 

image of children wearing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flagsWhen the Department or a court decides where your children should live, the most important consideration is about what is in your children’s best interests.

However, the law also says that when Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children cannot live with their parents, they should be placed within their own kin, culture and community if this is possible.

 

image of legal adviceEach State and Territory have slightly different laws about how this happens. You can get legal adviceACTNSWNTQldSATasVicWA about what is meant to happen if your children are in care and are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

 

 

image of person readingFor more information, also see resources.

====================== Collapse Ends Here. Do not Edit Here ========================

Quick Exit

© Copyright National Legal Aid 2019. All rights reserved. All illustrations by Frances Cannon.

Translate »
Skip to content