Participation of Children

An interesting article by District Judge Crichton (Inner London FPC, champion of the Drug & Alcohol Court Pilot) about enhancing the participation of children in Family Proceedings. He suggests that children of an appropriate age should be routinely asked by CAFCASS about the possibility of meeting the judge and that judges should not be reluctant to meet them in chambers or in the courtroom, in the presence of the CAFCASS Officer, child’s solicitor or court associate / legal advisor. He suggests good practice is that an agreed note of what was said can then be shared with the parties.


In my experience a child attending court is comparatively unusual let alone meeting with the judge in their case. That is not to say that it should not be considered more often – many children clearly feel disempowered and frustrated or confused that they have no say decisions that affect them. It is a delicate balance between empowering children without burdening them with the responsibility for making a decision or expressing a preference between parents which can be excruciating for children.


The article can be found in the Hilary Term issue (#39) of The Barrister magazine.

2 thoughts on “Participation of Children

  1. Judges in Scotland routinely invite children who are old enough to understand to attend court or write with their views should they wish. I don’t think many take the invitation up to attend court but it does give them a voice to say they love both parents and wish the fighting would stop. Hearing it from the horse’s mouth so to speak seems to have a very powerful effect on parents.

  2. […] May 19, 2009 by familoo I’ve just read an interesting article by District Judge Paul Carr who sits at Watford County Court on ‘The Voice of the Child’ published in [2009] Fam Law 290 (1 Apr 09) in which he sets out his views about Judges seeing children involved in proceedings and how that should be handled. I’ve posted on the topic of participation of children before. […]

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