In France, whenever a minor (under 18 years of age) is involved in a legal procedure, they may ask to be heard by the judge presiding over the case.

The most common scenario is when parents are battling for custody of a child.

According to the law, a minor can be heard once they are deemed “capable of discernment”. In this respect, the judge will take into account the child's age, maturity and ability to express themself.

In practice, judges will hear children from around the age of 7 or 8 years old.

The child, or their parent, must ask to be heard by the judge but there is no obligation to be heard; the child can refuse to be heard, but must first be made aware of the possibility to do so.

The request must be made either by the child themself (a simple letter sent by post will suffice), or by one of the parents who can ask that their child be heard.

If the request comes from the child, the judge can not refuse it; if the request comes from the parent, the judge has the right to refuse permission.

In every case, the child will be heard by the judge before the hearing that will determin the outcome of the case.

The judge will hear the child without the parents, or their lawyers, present, although the child may choose to be accompanied by their own lawyer, or another individual (but this may be refused by the judge).

The child's lawyer can not also represent either parent in a case where, for example, there is a dispute over custody.

In principle, it will be the judge that hears the child, although, under certain circumstances, the judge may appoint someone else to perform this task.

The hearing will take place at the court – the judge will not carry out a home visit.

The judge will transcribe what the child says into a written account that will form part of the judge's case file.