The Muffled Voice of the child: Part three

Solicitors Journal

The muffled voice of the child: part three

Feature |7 April 2015

There is a real opportunity for the old proverb ‘Children should be seen and not heard’ to become a thing of the past, say Carla Ditz and Helen Greenfield

In the last update (SJ 159/9), we looked at how the law supports children’s desire to be heard when they are the subject of court proceedings. But how does this actually happen in practice?

Existing regime

There are a number of different means by which children are given a voice:

  • Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass): An officer is closely involved in most cases and ‘advises the courts on what [they] consider to be in the best interests of individual children’. They commit to ‘using their influence positively as the voice of the child and the eyes and ears of family courts’;
  • Guardian ad litem: A guardian ad litem represents children in cases involving local authorities, instructing a solicitor to act, interviewing anyone connected with the children, and writing reports for the court, as well as giving evidence;
  • A solicitor: Some children are permitted to instruct their own solicitors without having a guardian

Hyperlink for blog

We would be interested in your comments, please leave them by filling in some details below.