Overview

In civil cases, a child under the age of 18 cannot sue or be sued in his or her own name. They need a litigation guardian, an adult who makes decisions on behalf of a child in a court case.

A litigation guardian:

  • is authorized to take all steps that the child would be able to take in the proceeding if the child were an adult
  • must protect the child’s interest and take all necessary steps to do so
  • must be represented by a lawyer (except in Small Claims Court)

If you want to act as a litigation guardian for a child, you should speak with a lawyer. You may be responsible to pay legal costs awarded against a child. The Office of the Children’s Lawyer will not provide you with a lawyer.

In personal injury and other civil cases, the court may order the Office of the Children’s Lawyer to act as litigation guardian for the child as a last resort if there is no:

  • parent
  • guardian
  • other adult willing and able to act for the child.

If the child is entitled to money from the result of a civil case, the money may need to be managed by the Accountant of the Superior Court of Justice or a court appointed guardian of property .

Request the Office of the Children’s Lawyer to act as a litigation guardian in civil cases

If you are suing a child

If you are suing a child, you can ask the court to make an order to appoint the Office of the Children’s Lawyer as litigation guardian for a defendant child. If you want this to happen, you must serve specific materials on the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

If your child is suing or being sued

If your child is suing or being sued and there is no adult willing or able to act as a litigation guardian for your child, can:

  1. Write a letter requesting the Office of the Children’s Lawyer to act as a litigation guardian for your child. In the letter explain why there are no adult family members or friends who would be suitable to act as a litigation guardian for your child.
  2. Send the letter to the Office of the Children’s Lawyer office.
  3. We will review your request and respond.

Litigation guardians in estate, trusts and guardianship cases

The Office of the Children's Lawyer is litigation guardian for persons under the age of 18 in:

The Office of the Children’s Lawyer must be served with these applications to manage a child’s money from an estate or other civil case, like personal injury.

Updated: August 12, 2021
Published: May 20, 2021