Listening to children's views: The findings and recommendations of recent research

Ann O'Quigley
17th Mar 2000

In line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Section 11 of the Family Law Act of 1996 enables the Lord Chancellor to draw up court rules so that children’s views may be represented in family law proceedings.

This report summarises the findings of researchers on how children’s views are currently ascertained in private law proceedings. The report summarises recently published and current research on how we listen to children in legal, administrative and mediatory processes.

It reports researchers’ findings on the most effective ways of listening to children so that they can be fully involved in the processes that affect them. Researchers are in broad agreement that the present situation is unsatisfactory and that children’s views are, at best, inadequately represented.

Most worryingly, even where there is violence in the family, the wishes and feelings of the children are often ignored. This study was produced for a seminar of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Board on Family Law on 5 July 1999, which was considering the best ways of representing children. A summary of the discussion at that seminar is included.

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