New Government proposals will mean that children involved in any type of family case - whether to remove them into care or disputes about child arrangements following divorce or separation - will be able to have their views heard when decisions are made that will affect them.
There were apparently 90,000 children involved in new cases in the family courts last year. The Government believes that the voices of children and young people should be heard when decisions are made that affect them. The new proposals will allow this to happen, and in particular all young people aged ten and above will have a greater opportunity to have their voice heard.
A range of initiatives are being proposed to help make communication easier, including facilities for children and young people to communicate with a judge by way of letters or pictures.
Justice Minister, Simon Hughes, also announced the Government’s support for making out of court dispute resolution services, such as family mediation, more child-inclusive.
“For too long, children and young people have struggled to have their voices heard during the family court process,” explained Simon Hughes.” Although they are often at the centre of proceedings, the views of children and how they feel are often not heard, with other people making vital decisions for them.”
“I’ve been really impressed with Family Justice Young People’s Board and the arguments which its members put forward,” he added. “This is why I have taken steps to make sure that children and young people from the age of ten will be able to express their views in cases which affect them.”
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