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Meta Title :Children’s voices: centre-stage or sidelined in out-of-court dispute resolution in England and Wales?  CFLQ 43
Meta Keywords :Mediation – family dispute resolution – child-inclusive – autonomy – children’s rights – children’s voices
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Mar 2, 2015, 04:58 AM
Article ID :109461
Keywords: Mediation – family dispute resolution – child-inclusive – autonomy – children’s
rights – children’s voices
The UK Government recently announced that children aged 10 and over should have the
opportunity to be consulted on their views in both family court proceedings and family
mediation. Drawing on data from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded
‘Mapping Paths to Family Justice’ project, this article examines the extent to which children’s
voices are currently heard within out-of-court family dispute resolution (FDR) processes in
England and Wales. The article documents practitioners’ and parties’ views and experiences of
child consultation, as well as evidence of the ways in which adult disputes may become the
dominant concern and children’s welfare marginalised in FDR processes. It argues that the
government’s proposals would represent a significant change in current practices. To achieve
such a cultural shift would require better training and accreditation for FDR professionals,
adequate funding of child-inclusive mediation, reframing of children’s participation in terms of
rights to have their views heard and correspondingly, modification of the central principle of
party autonomy in FDR processes.