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03 FEB 2010

How children and young people feel about family breakdown

WED 03/02/2010 - A report by Cafcass on how children and young people feel about going through divorce and separation has revealed almost half are worried their financial situation.

The How It Looks To Me report found that 46% of the young people explained that there was a worsening financial situation for themselves and the parent they lived with. The majority of young people felt that they required financial support.

Eighty eight percent of the young people felt that they had a right to decide where they live and who they see after their parents separate.

Based on a research event organised by the Cafcass Children's Rights Team in April 2009, the report was researched in collaboration with Professor Adrian James from the Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth, University of Sheffield; and evaluated by independent research provider, the Policy Evaluation Group.

Anthony Douglas, Cafcass Chief Executive said, "Children and young people whose parents are going through a divorce or separation need to be supported at each stage in the proceedings. This report shows that many of these children are worried about their financial situation and want further support after the proceedings have finished.

"It is a positive sign that many of the young people felt that they benefitted from Cafcass' involvement but there were also areas mentioned that we could improve on - such as confidentiality. The information that has been gained from this report will help identify ways we can improve support services for children going through this difficult time," Mr Douglas said.

The report also revealed that only a third of young people surveyed said they had the opportunity to communicate to the court what they wanted to happen to them. Only 18% of respondents said that their Cafcass worker had informed the court of their views.

A key recommendation by the reports' authors is that Cafcass or the family court ensures that young people were involved in discussions about their welfare before their parent's submited the statement of arrangements when they filed for divorce.

Other research findings last week by the Children's Commissioner for England, Sir Al Aynsley-Green, revealed how children and young people feel about the Government's proposal to allow the media to report on evidence from family court proceedings. The research showed that they would be unwilling or less willing to disclose maltreatment or talk about ill treatment by a parent, express their wishes and feelings and any problems they were having at school with a journalist present.

Children and young people involved in the Commissioner's research say they are worried about further humiliation resulting from information about their families being placed in the public arena as this could lead to bullying in schools and communities.

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