Family courts will hear more from children

Children will be given a greater voice in family courts, a leading MP promised this week.

Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes said it was only right that youngsters should be able to make their feelings known.

To ensure they’re given this opportunity, the Department of Justice has confirmed it will become “the norm” for those over 10-years-old to be given an opportunity to speak to a judge.

“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,” said Mr Hughes.

“At the moment, it is still too often that their views are not heard.”

The new approach was announced following criticism from a number of bodies that children were given little say on the outcome of cases that would decide their future.

Jane Robey, chief executive of National Family Mediation, was among those to welcome the announcement.

“The impact of the child’s voice in the mediation and court room setting can be literally life-changing,” she said.

The Government has said it will work with judges and the Children and Family Courts Advisory and Support Service to implement the changes, which will come into force as soon as soon as practically possible.