Children’s hearing rights in the Family Court

Children’s hearing rights in the Family Court

Are children listened to by the court?

What is the hearing right of minors?

When parents cannot agree on their children’s residence arrangements, the family court decides. In that case, it may be useful for the court to also hear the views of the children themselves.

The legislator also thought along these lines and provided that children from the age of 12 are invited to a meeting with the family court if the parents disagree about the residence arrangement.

Children under 12 are not automatically invited, but can still be heard at the request of the parents or at the request of the public prosecutor. The minor himself can also write a letter to the court on his own initiative asking to be heard.

Is the minor obliged to be heard?

The minor cannot be obliged to be heard. The minor can choose whether they want to say something or not.

An invitation is sent by the Family Court (to the address of both parents) stating the date and time when the minor is expected at the court. However, the minor can refuse to accept the invitation.

How does this ‘hearing’ work?

The ‘hearing’ of the minor is informal and convivial. It is a normal conversation at the Family Judge’s office, not in a courtroom. The judge is also not in gown.

General questions are asked about school, hobbies… to form a picture of the minor’s environment, but also to put the minor at ease. More specific questions are also asked, such as how things are at home with the parents, what the child likes or dislikes and whether they would like to change anything.

Besides the Family Judge, only the Registrar is present who makes a short summary of what the minor declares. This report is read to the minor at the end. It is also expressly stated that the parents can see this report afterwards.

The parents and their lawyers are not allowed to be present at the interview itself.

Does this mean that children are allowed to choose which parent they want to live with?

The minor may give his or her opinion and even his or her preference, but the Family Judge will decide what value he or she gives to this.

The judge will obviously not take into account reasons that are not necessarily in the child’s interest, such as: being allowed to stay up longer with one parent or playing more on the PlayStation.

The age and maturity of the minor will also affect how the Family Judge deals with what the minor has said.

Only from the age of 18, when the children become of age, are they allowed to choose where they live.

Is hearing the minor children useful?

Very much so. Because the Family Judge listens and takes into account the views of minors, they know that their opinion is important and that they have a voice in the proceedings.

It can also be very enlightening for parents to read how their children view the situation and what their concerns are.

If you have any questions about this or wish to initiate proceedings regarding the stay of your children, feel free to contact us at for further information.