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'We support any move to ensure children’s voices are heard in the family justice system, and we’re pleased that the government is starting to flesh out how this will work in practice.Article continues below...
But it needs to be part of a package of measures which go beyond the courts and seek to change parents' behaviour. We look forward to seeing more detail on today’s announcement when the Voice of the Child advisory group reports next month. What’s needed to make the family justice system child-inclusive is a wholesale reform of the system and culture around family law and divorce.
We hope this will be the start of a broader conversation about how this can be delivered, as we do have some concerns. For example, how do we ensure that the child isn’t being put under pressure by one parent, when asked to voice their views? How do we ensure that the child is heard without them feeling responsible for adult decisions? How will court time be managed to enable the child to be heard? And what training will there be for judges?
These are all important questions and Resolution is committed to working with government to address them, as the overall objective is something we all want to see happen.
We also continue to support the government’s intention to ensure children are heard during out of court processes, such as family mediation. And the Family Justice Young People’s Board’s "National Charter", referenced in today’s Government announcement, contains some great practical suggestions for making the courts more child inclusive.
We’re delighted to have worked directly with members of the Family Justice Young People’s Board on our Parenting Charter, and get their views on what parents should be doing to support kids during separation. We’ve developed this Charter with them, as we know how important it is for parents to understand from the outset, and long before they reach court or engage in mediation, what their responsibilities are to their children.'
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'It’s not necessarily the divorce itself that affects children, but the conflict that surrounds it. The way the current law around divorce is set up encourages conflict – for example, the need for one person to accuse the other of adultery or unreasonable behaviour in order for the divorce to go through within two years of separation.She continues:
Essentially people who are divorcing are stuck in a pincer, between emotional hurt and the loss of a relationship on one side, and a legal system that encourages recrimination and blame on the other.'
'Sadly, as our survey results show, this can mean that parents get caught up in the heat of the moment and start thinking of their former partner as the enemy, and not as the mother or father of their child. People often think about children’s interests in the sense of their material wellbeing – but it’s the emotional impact of seeing their parents in conflict that creates lasting psychological scars.Resolution’s Parenting Charter encourages separating parents to agree together that their children have the right to:
Our Parenting Charter aims to remind divorcing or separating parents that children are individuals with their own rights to information and a voice during the separation process, and that the way that the divorce is handled will have repercussions for children that will last for life.'