Interpreter Services

It is important for you to understand the family law information and court processes that apply to you. This information can be confusing, especially if English is not your first language. If you have an ongoing court matter, you can often access interpreter services through the court.

You may also be able to get help from an interpretation or translation service on your own. Many of these organizations are private services that you may have to pay for. Each organization may offer a different type of service. Some of these organizations may not provide interpretation for legal or court matters.

The court only pays for interpreter services arranged through the court, not services that you access privately.

Interpreter Services Available through the Court

Speak to court staff if you need interpreter services to assist you throughout the court process. It is important for you to tell court staff right away if you need assistance from an interpreter.

You may be able to request to have an interpreter come to an intake or conciliation meeting with you. Talk to court staff or your lawyer about your special needs.

The court may order an interpreter for court hearings or trials. The interpreter will be arranged for and paid by the court when:

  • court staff approves for you to get an interpreter, or

  • the court makes a court order for you to get an interpreter.

Interpretation costs may not be covered for all services. It is important to check with court staff or your lawyer about your specific needs.

If you are involved with a child protection matter and feel you need an interpreter, talk to your lawyer. The judge will determine whether an interpreter is needed and will advise the Department of Community Services to arrange for one to be provided.

Sign language interpreters are provided by the court if necessary and arranged in advance.

When requesting an interpreter, you will need to let court staff know which language and dialect you require services in. Court staff will arrange for the interpreter if they are aware of your request ahead of time.

The court uses interpreters who are trained, and are bound by confidentiality agreements. This means that anything you say to the interpreter, they are not allowed to repeat to anyone who is not involved with your court file.

If you know that there may be a conflict with an interpreter, you can tell the court this. For example, if a member of your community is an interpreter, and you would feel uncomfortable having them assist you, tell the court this, and they will find a different interpreter. You have the right to be assisted by an interpreter that you are comfortable with.

Why is it important to get help from a trained interpreter?

Untrained interpreters, like friends or family members, may not understand the information being translated themselves, especially when this information includes legal terms and concepts that are not used by most people in their day-to-day lives.

Untrained interpreters are also not bound by confidentiality agreements, and may not be 'neutral.' For example, they may incorrectly interpret information or keep information from you because they are trying to help you or protect you. 

What is the difference between interpretation and translation?

Interpretation is spoken, and done 'on the spot.' For example, interpretation happens when you are in court and an interpreter is telling you what is being said in court in your language, or is telling the court what you are saying.

Translation is written. If you give a document to someone to put into a different language, this is translation. 

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