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Why children should have a voice in family law cases

Posted on October 20th 2017

Currently, children are not allowed to give evidence directly or routinely meet the judge in cases about them. This is despite the massive impact family law cases will have on their lives. As a result, campaigners, children and some judges are calling for a change in the law which would mean that children in England and Wales could talk to the judge in private if they so choose.

Why are these measures necessary?

  1. Many children are unhappy with the current system:

Many children find themselves at the centre of bitter fights – some between their parents and some between their families and local authorities. Some children feel that they have no voice in these cases because they give their opinion to Cafcass, who report to the court on their behalf.

Children have become invisible in cases which massively impact their lives.

  1. The current system breaks Article 12 of the UN Convention on the rights of the child:

The UN convention states:

  • That children should hold an opinion.
  • Children should be given the opportunity to express their opinion.
  • Children should know that their opinion has been taken into account.
  1. Lastly, children who have spoken to a judge directly believe it made a difference to their case’s outcome:

For example, the BBC reports that Oscar, a member of the Family Justice Children and Young People’s Board, got to meet a judge for an hour regarding his own case. Oscar remains convinced that the meeting made a difference. Oscar felt listened to – overall he believes that the judge supported the outcome he had asked for.

Lord Justice Jackson suggests that meetings between children and judges should not be an automatic right.

The ministry of Justice has said that, “protecting children and the vulnerable” was at the heart of family justice reforms. Furthermore, they said that they will be discussing proposals with senior judges in the near future.

How can we help?

We can help you ensure that your child is protected from harm and make sure their voice is heard with detailed legal advice. Contact one of our experienced family solicitors today on 01244 312306 or visit our family pages for more information.

Call and speak to a lawyer on 01244 312306