Whenever parents separate, this may result in serious disputes over custody or access rights that cause major suffering to children. If parents are entirely unable to reach agreement here, it is then up to the judge of the family court to decide who is to be given custody and how the rights of access should be organised.
A judge presiding in custody and access rights proceedings can appoint a children’s advisor if he or she feels a child is being unduly burdened by these proceedings and is in need of support.
The children’s advisor is responsible for informing the child what is going on at court and for standing by the child’s side as a person of trust in this difficult time. If wished by the child, the advisor can act as the child’s „voice“ by verbalising the feelings of the child to the court and parents. The children’s advisor is otherwise bound to treat what a child says as confidential.
The advisor should act as the personal contact for the child, accompanying children to court and above all, stopping them from experiencing the distressing feeling of being responsible for the situation. The children’s advisor is guided by the wishes and ideas of the child.
A children’s advisor can be made available to children from preschool age up to the age of 14 years and even up to the age of 16 with their consent and in the case of special need.
Only selected, specially trained persons are able to work as children’s advisors, in particular educators, psychologists and social workers.
The provision of a children’s advisor is free of charge for the first six months. After this time the child’s parents are obliged to bear the cost, although low-income families can apply for an exemption from these charges via legal aid.