It’s Summer proper, with all that that entails and up for debate this week is the notion of The Voice of The Child.
In his speech last week, Simon Hughes, our Justice Minister, talked about focusing on making children central to family law proceedings. Speaking at The Voice of The Child Conference, he suggested that the government would be implementing the following:
- Ensuring children were made aware of their rights during proceedings;
- Allowing children to meet with judges, not just to learn about how the court process works, but to express their wishes and feelings directly;
- Creating proper pathways which would allow children to give CAFCASS their views in writing;
- Giving children the ability to give feedback about their experience of the process;
- Making it law that all children involved in proceedings must have their views heard before any decisions are made;
- That these measures will be available to all children aged 10 and over (Hughes says that age threshold was chosen because it is also the threshold for Criminal Responsibility, suggesting that if a child is old enough to be held responsible at 10 for a crime, then they must also be able to express their views about their future).
- Where children below 10 wish to have their views heard, they will be able to do so;
- Children who are vulnerable will need to be treated differently to those who are not in terms of expression, and may need someone to express their views on their behalf;
- To make the Voice of the Child central to family mediation processes.
Our question to you this week, is just this: do you agree with the proposals?