Children's rights & guardianship

The law recognises that as children grow up, they are more and more able to make decisions for themselves. This means that the guardian gradually makes fewer decisions for the child.

Listening to the children

Children have the right to say what they think about things that affect them.

For example, if separated parents (who are the child's guardian) disagree about where a child should go to school and have asked the Family Court to settle the dispute, the child must be given a reasonable chance to say what they think. The judge has to consider what the child says.

What if a child doesn't like a guardian's decision?

If a child who is 16 or older is unhappy about an important decision made about them by their guardian or guardians, the child can ask the Family Court to decide the matter.

For example, if a guardian has refused to let a child get married, enter into a civil union or live with someone as a couple, the child can ask the Family Court to give its permission.

When can a child legally agree to medical procedures?

Once they are 16, children can decide for themselves whether they want to consent (agree) to any medical treatment, operation, dental procedure or blood transfusion. This right to give consent also includes the right to refuse consent.


A female of any age can legally consent to, or refuse to have, an abortion.

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