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'Children and young people must by law have their views heard before decisions are made about their future, and where decisions are made that will impact them. At the moment, it is still too often that their views are not heard.The government will also work with the mediator sector so that children have appropriate access to mediators in cases which affect them.
I therefore want to announce that it is the intention of the Ministry of Justice, and therefore the UK Government, that we move as soon as is practical to apply in all our family justice proceedings in England and Wales where children and young people are concerned the policy that it will be the normal practice, the norm, that, from the age of 10, children and young people involved in public or private law family justice proceedings before the courts will have access to the judge, in an appropriate way which reflects their feelings and wishes to make clear their views as to what is the best resolution of the family dispute in their interest. Children and young people of 10 and over will therefore be given the chance to make clear their views in person or if preferred in another way.
Our commitment to giving children the chance to speak to a judge and make clear their views means children will not only be seen in family courts but they will have their own voice heard. This will put them firmly at the heart of the Family Justice System.'
'Over 30 years on, we’re delighted the Government now pledges to take a number of steps to ensure the child can shape his or her own future at times of family breakdown.Resolution's Chair Jo Edwards added:
Our experience shows that hearing the child’s voice can shift parents’ attention away from bitterness they feel about each other towards placing the interests of the child as “Page 1, Line 1” of all future plans.
The impact of the child’s voice in the mediation and court room setting can literally be life-changing.
As the founders of child inclusive mediation, and the nationwide organisation that has pioneered and evolved child-inclusive mediation we look forward to being involved in the important work that lies ahead.'
'We welcome the Minister's commitment to giving children a greater voice in the family justice system. Resolution members work day in, day out, to help separating parents work to put the needs of their children front and centre - this is at the heart of our Code of Practice.The age of 10 has been used to be consistent with other existing policy and practice in this country. It is the age of criminal responsibility for young people in England and Wales.
Whether it's through Resolution's government-funded Family Matters pilots, or our training for mediators so they can involve children in the process - our members are committed to ensuring that children come first. So anything the government can do to support this is to be welcomed.
Sadly, with fewer parents able to access legal support as a result of the cuts to legal aid, and publicly-funded mediation numbers on the decline, there is a risk that the increased pressure on the family courts could undermine this commitment.
We look forward to working with the Minister and others in government to help them achieve their aim, and our members will continue to support separating parents in minimising the conflict between them and, in turn, reduce the impact of separation on children.'
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