UK to Give Children a Greater Voice in Family Justice System
The United Kingdom Ministry of Justice recently announced the government's "commitment that from the age of 10, children and young people involved in all family court hearings in England and Wales will have access to judges to make their views and feelings known." The changes, which will be implemented as soon as possible, will also give children over 10 the opportunity to have input during mediation proceedings.
“The announcement followed claims from the Family Justice Young People's Board that children have been 'pushed and pulled through the family justice system with little or no say on what happens to them' for too long." The law had already given children some opportunity to communicate with judges through a representative, but many saw this as not enough.
The announcement has also drawn criticism, with some arguing that the age of 10 is an arbitrary number that does not take into account the competency or understanding of the child, and that the new law may place too much power in children's hands, opening the door to parental manipulation or forcing the child to choose sides.