The Family and Children Division Act 2016 establishes a specialised Children Court and Family Court as subdivisions of a Family and Children Division of the High Court. The Courts commenced operations in February 2018 and have expanded geographically since that time. The Children Court supports the sustainable, coordinated and efficient delivery of legal and social service to victims of child abuse and neglect, children in need of supervision and child offenders. The targeted interventions which intersect with the protective jurisdiction of the Children's Authority of Trinidad and Tobago are particularly important for victims of child sexual abuse, the majority of whom are girls. A child who has either been the victim of or a by stander in matters requiring a Protection Order under the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) also comes under specialised jurisdiction of the Children Court. Domestic Violence is defined to include physical, sexual and emotional or psychological abuse. Pursuant to the Act, the Family Court, which operated as a pilot since 2004, transitioned into a single High Court jurisdiction for improving access to family justice. Importantly, the Family Court also has jurisdiction to hear applications for the issuance of a Protection Order under the DVA other than those which are children matters thereby facilitating improved access to justice for victims, the majority of whom are women. Access to justice is facilitated through multiple pathways including specialised organisational and staffing structures, resources and services.
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