Placing children at the heart of the family justice system
Thanks to a campaign led by the Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB), which has long asserted that children and young people appearing in family court are given little or no say as to what might happen to them, the government has agreed to give them full access to judges, in order to make their feelings and views known.
Family justice minister Simon Hughes told the board that the Ministry of Justice will work with family court judges and the Children and Family Courts Advisory and Support Service to make it ‘normal practice’ for children aged 10 and above ‘to make clear their views as to what is the best resolution of the family dispute in their interest’.
FJYPB member Kitty, a 15-year-old from Leicestershire, told of the ‘huge sense of relief’ she felt after speaking to the judge in her case, adding that it dissipated her feelings of isolation. Malcolm Richardson, deputy chairman of the Magistrates’ Association, gave a tentative welcome to the proposals, but added that care must be taken to avoid pressuring reluctant youngsters into direct involvement. He also questioned how well funded the project would be, given that the majority of family court cases now do not attract legal aid for adults…
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