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This article examines the extent to which children are consulted about their wishes and feelings in residence and contact disputes in three county courts in England. We found that children's preferences and feelings were included on court files in approximately one quarter of cases brought under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 applications. The reason for this low representation of children's voices appeared to relate to the age of the children involved (the younger they were the less likely they were to be consulted) and to whether parents came to an agreement before a report was ordered or before it was allowed to influence the outcome. We found that older children were more likely to influence the final outcome of a case; that children tended to be consulted in cases involving a high degree of conflict; and that children whose wishes and feelings did not coincide with the court welfare officer's conclusions often found their wishes overridden in the outcome of the case.
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