Divorce, separation: can a minor child be heard by the judge?

Verified 14 September 2021 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

Yes, a child discernable may be heard in divorce or separation proceedings. He is informed of his right by his parents. The request for a hearing may be made by the parents or by the minor child. He may be heard alone, with a lawyer or a person of his choice. The judge hears the child himself or appoints a person to conduct the hearing.

The child may be heard at the time of separation or divorce of his parents, as that separation has an impact on his living conditions.

The issue of the hearing concerns the child's residence and the other parent's rights of access, living environment or a decision on parental authority (school orientation...).

The child may, for example, wish to live with his father, with his mother, to live alternately with his parents, not to be separated from his siblings.


whatever his age, the child does not decide. He gives his opinion.

The child can be heard only when her parents have initiated divorce or separation proceedings before the family court.

The law does not set the age at which a child may be heard. The minor must be discernable. His maturity, his level of understanding, his personal ability to appreciate situations, his ability to express a considered opinion are elements demonstrating this discernment.

The minor must be informed by the persons having parental authority (his father, his mother) of his right to be heard. The family judge must verify that the minor has been informed of his or her right.

The request for a hearing may be made to the JAF: titleContent at any time during the divorce or separation proceedings.

If there is no request made but the judge considers the hearing necessary, he can order it of his own accord.

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Child's request

The child must write to the judge himself.

Who shall I contact

The judge duty to interview the child unless the child lacks the necessary discernment or the procedure does not concern him or her.

In the event of a refusal, he shall inform the minor. The reasons for the refusal are set out in the judge's decision.

A refusal to hear a person shall not be subject to appeal.

Request by parents

Parents (either or both) may apply in writing to the judge for their child to be heard.

The judge may refuse the application in the following cases:

  • The child does not have the necessary judgment
  • The procedure does not concern the child
  • The hearing is not necessary for the resolution of the dispute
  • The hearing appears to be contrary to the child's interests

In the event of refusal, the judge shall inform the parents and state the reasons in his decision.

Where the minor refuses to be heard, the judge shall examine the reasons for such refusal.

At the initiative of the judge

The hearing may be ordered by the Family Court Judge without a request from the parents or the child.

The hearing must enable the judge to have the child's opinion if he considers it necessary for his decision.

The child is summoned by simple letter.

He shall be informed that he may be heard alone, with a lawyer or with a person of his choice. If the choice of the person does not appear to be in the minor's best interests, the judge may appoint another person.


if the minor writes that he or she wants to be assisted by a lawyer and has not already chosen one, the judge shall request the appointment of a lawyer to assist him or her.

A minor who chooses to be heard with a lawyer is automatically entitled to legal aid.

Parents or their lawyers are notified of the hearing.

The hearing takes place in court.

The judge hears the child himself or appoints a person to conduct his or her hearing. This is a person who is active in the social, psychological or medico-psychological field.

The lawyer's role is to explain to the child the course of the hearing and to help him express his feelings.

The hearing of the child shall be the subject of a report drawn up in the interests of the child. It is not necessarily a word-for-word transcription of the child's words.

This report shall be made known to the parents in accordance with rules laid down by the judge.

The judge makes a decision in the separation or divorce proceedings between the parents.

This decision must indicate that the child has been heard.

The judge is not obliged to follow the child's advice.

Please note

the child cannot challenge the decision made between his or her parents because he or she is not part to the procedure.

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