Whether you are facing questions about the welfare of your children and their care arrangements after a separation or divorce, or there’s a chance your children will be taken away from you, you are probably wondering where to turn for help–especially if you can’t pay expensive legal bills. Luckily, there are options out there. Below, we run through where you can seek support when you are confronted with a child protection case.
How to cope
The first thing you need to do is stay calm, even if that feels impossible. Staying calm will allow you to work out a plan and to make your case. Remember, the court will do its utmost to support all the rights of the child; including the right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents, as well as the right to be safe and provided for. Keeping calm and focused will best enable you to make a case in your favour, and it will cause the least amount of stress for your children.
Family and friends
Your family and friends want what is best for you and your children, and they will listen if you need to talk. When you are feeling overwhelmed or worried, talking through your problems with trusted friends and family can help you work out what to do next–or simply make you feel a little less alone.
Support groups and hotlines
In NSW, there are many groups who can offer you free, impartial, and unbiased support. They can also point you in the right direction of people going through similar experiences, and help you find legal advice.
If you are finding parenting overwhelming, and you don’t think you are coping, the trained professional counsellors at Parent Line NSW will listen, reassure you, and offer support.
Relationships Australia can give you advice if you are dealing with a separation or divorce and need help with mediation or counselling.
Legal aid and duty solicitors
You may be entitled to legal aid, which will help to cover the cost of instructing a lawyer and having them represent you. This is especially helpful if you are dealing with a child protection case and are required to appear at court.
At the Children’s Court in NSW, duty lawyers are always available if you ask the court for their help. The court can provide further advice regarding this.
If you do not qualify for legal aid, you are still entitled to a brief free legal advice session. This will help you if you are representing yourself at a court hearing.
You can also obtain free legal advice in a one-off telephone call to the National Advice Line, Family Relationships Online.
Take some of the stress out of child protection cases with the right lawyers on your side. For more detailed information on Separation and Divorce, download our free ebook here.