a home for life Information for home for life parents when instructing a lawyer Here is some information about instructing a lawyer to help with the legal aspects of giving a child or young person a home for life. Child, Youth and Family (CYF) is committed to supporting you to provide a home for life, which includes support for you to instruct a lawyer. You have a right to choose your own lawyer If you already have a lawyer, ask if she or he works in the area of family law. If not, ask if she or he can recommend a colleague. If you do not already have a lawyer you could ask friends or family to recommend one, or ask the New Zealand Law Society for a list of lawyers in your area who know about family law. You also have a right to change your lawyer if you are unhappy but make sure you discuss that with CYF first. How to instruct a lawyer The lawyer’s role is to advise you and represent your wishes in Court. As part of standard service your lawyer should explain what she or he is doing in plain English, and you should be able to ask questions. When you first meet the lawyer take all relevant information with you: details about the child and her or his parents how long she or he has been in your care your social worker’s details Court orders other relevant documents and information from CYF the attached leaflet, Home for Life: Information for lawyers. Anything you tell your lawyer is strictly confidential. If you have any further questions about instructing a lawyer we recommend you contact the New Zealand Law Society: www.lawsociety.org.nz Service the lawyer provides meeting you and taking your instructions identifying legal and factual issues advising you about your options preparing the application for parenting orders and to discharge custody orders in favour of the chief executive filing and serving documents representing you at all court hearings reporting to you Fees CYF will reimburse your reasonable legal costs, usually no more than 10 hours of the lawyer’s time at a reasonable rate (usually the legal aid rate), plus any expenses. CYF will not reimburse costs for more than 10 hours work without prior agreement. You should agree how much the lawyer intends to charge you before she or he does any work. Make it clear that the lawyer must not charge more without your agreement. If you agree to pay more, and have not had this agreed with CYF beforehand, CYF will not reimburse you and you will have to pay the excess amount yourself. This is also outlined in the attached information sheet for your lawyer. If your lawyer says that it will cost more than was originally estimated, ask her or him to prepare an updated estimate so that you can discuss the matter with, and seek the agreement of, CYF before agreeing that the lawyer will do the work. An example of why it may cost more is because the case is more complicated than originally thought, or because the child’s parents are contesting the application. 2 a home for life Information for lawyers Name of home for life parents ___________________________________ Name of child or young person ___________________________________ Child, Youth and Family (CYF), a service of the Ministry of Social Development, is supporting these caregivers to give a child or young person a home for life. That means that, among other things, CYF will reimburse the reasonable cost of instructing a lawyer to: discharge custody orders in favour of the chief executive; and obtain parenting and guardianship orders in favour of the caregivers under the Care of Children Act 2004 (or under the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 in certain cases). CYF anticipates that in a non-contested case this will take no more than 10 hours work. CYF considers that a reasonable rate will be approximately equivalent to the relevant legal aid rate for the experience of the solicitor, or the Lawyer for the Child rate if the solicitor is an approved Lawyer for the Child. CYF will also reimburse the costs of reasonable disbursements. For fees greater than this (for example in more complex or contested cases) or for other types of instructions (for example defending proceedings brought by the child’s birth parents) CYF will only reimburse the foster parents’ costs where this has been specifically agreed in advance. CYF is likely to agree where it is in the best interests of the child or young person. If you believe that higher costs will be indicated, please prepare an estimate for the caregivers so that they can obtain approval from CYF. In all cases, please invoice the foster parents directly.
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