Stephen Bourne Lawyer - Children's Law
(c) Stephen Bourne 2016  

Stephen Bourne
Barrister at Law
LLM MBS MSc(Psych) ANZIIF(Fellow)


Children's Law

Children's law is mainly concerned with protecting children from abuse and neglect, and assuring their future safety, welfare and well-being. In some cases the relevant child protection authority may remove at-risk children from their parents' care, while the level of risk is assessed, and the court must then decide whether it is safe to return the children.

This is an area of law where emotions run high, and where the state has extensive powers. Parents and family in this situation are often at a significant disadvantage. However, good legal advice and representation can make a big difference to the outcome in many cases.

Another aspect of children's law is adoption, where the court is asked to sever a child's legal relationship with his or her natural parents, and allow another adult or adults to 'adopt' the child. Adoption cases are complex because strict requirements must be met before the court will make adoption orders.

Where a child has been abducted from another country -- we may call these international kidnapping or 'Hague Convention' cases -- the state can bring a proceeding against the person who has the child, to force the return of the child to the other country. The person who has the child is often one of the child's parents, who has perhaps taken off with the child to stop the other parent gaining custody. Once again, strict rules apply and a lawyer who is experienced in these types of cases can often help to achieve a better outcome.

As part of my practice in this area, I have acted for parents and other family members, and I also worked for the state child protection agency in New South Wales (the Department of Family and Community Services) for over 3 years. This means that I have a good understanding of how child protection decisions are made, and what parents need to do if the agency removes their children or intervenes in some other way.

If you are involved in a child protection, adoption, Hague Convention or other children's law case, and need legal information or assistance, give me a call on +64 (0) (3) 288 01 80 or +61 (0) 418 254 043.