Children to be Heard in Family Disputes

The End of Distress

Children will be given a greater voice in the family justice system so that judges can understand better how they feel and what they think about the family disputes in which they are involved. Clare Fletcher, a Solicitor specialising in Family Law at The Wilkes Partnership discusses the issue.

A government commitment has been made that from the age of 10, children and young people involved in all family court hearings in England and Wales will have access to judges to make their views and feelings known.

The announcement was made by the Ministry of Justice following calls from young peoples’ representative group, the Family Justice Young People’s Board, that for too long children have been pushed and pulled through the family justice system with little or no say on what happens to them.

The government will also work with mediator sector so that children have appropriate access to mediators in cases which affect them and these changes to procedure will be put into place as soon as practically possible.

Clare comments “Decisions by the courts profoundly affect children and it is difficult to see how a judge can make an order without understanding a child’s views, particularly that of an older child. Currently their views are relayed through a third party such as a parent or court appointed social worker.”

“However, a judge’s direct interaction will require sensitive handling. A child’s expressed views may be distorted by a domineering parent and the court will need to be able to determine a child’s true feeling as opposed to a manipulated one.”

The Wilkes Partnership’s specialist family team offer an efficient, commercial and modern approach to assist with any issues you may encounter during divorce or relationship breakdown.

If you would like assistance in relation to divorce, children’s matters and related issues, call Clare Fletcher at The Wilkes Partnership on 0121 733 8000 or email cfletcher@wilkes.co.uk for further information.

Our Carvers Office also has one of the few dedicated childcare legal teams in the Midlands with over 44 years experience – for further details see www.carverslaw.co.uk.