Children to have a greater say in family court cases and decisions about their future
The Government has announced that children will have a greater say in family court cases and that children involved in any type of family case, such as disputes about child arrangements following divorce or separation, will be able to have their views heard when decisions are made that will affect them.
Last year 90,000 children were involved in new cases in the family courts. The government believes that young people’s voices should be heard when decisions are made that will affect them. Under the new proposals there will be a range of new initiatives and in particular all young people aged 10 and above will have a greater opportunity to have their voice heard. The plans announced are expected to complement reforms to guidance on judges seeing children which are being considered by a judge-led working group set up by the President of the Family Division.
A range of methods are expected to be used to help make communication easier, such as letters or pictures and CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) are beginning to develop various resources such as a ‘Court Gaming App’ to explain the court system to a young person.
However, family organisation Resolution says that this needs to be part of a wider move to put children’s needs first during divorce and separation. Resolution has developed a Parenting Charter which sets out what children should expect from their parents during and after their relationship breakdown and this will be formally launched on Monday 23rd February.