Making sure the children are heard
It is the Court’s aim to keep children at the heart of arrangements for the children when their parents separate but, in practice, how can that be achieved?
You solicitor will tell you that s.1 of the Children Act 1989 contains the ‘welfare principle’ and that when decisions need to be made about arrangements for them, your children’s best interests are the court’s paramount consideration but for families and professionals working ‘on the ground’ it is not always easy to work out exactly what this means.
The Courts work alongside CAFCASS and in appropriate cases, a CAFCASS officer will present a report to the Court about the children’s wishes and feelings. Nevertheless, parents and professionals alike benefit from as much information about the children as possible and more importantly, the children need support during their parents’ separation.
This is exactly one issue that the charity, Voices in the Middle, seeks to address by giving children ‘a voice’ and support during a difficult time. Created by young people, for young people, the charity provides information for children, young people and their parents who are experiencing family break up. Developing all the time, Voices in the Middle offers a comprehensive website with stories and information written by children and teenagers to help others and normalise their experiences. In addition, Voices in the Middle provides information and resources for parents, specifically tailored towards children of different ages.
As a Partner of the charity, we are delighted to support Voices in the Middle and recommend the website to our clients. Our solicitors have a high level of expertise and experience advising clients about making arrangements for their children and are always mindful that their children are our clients’ first priority. As members of Resolution our solicitors aim to help their clients make arrangements themselves, without lengthy and expensive court proceedings when the Court will decide what should happen.
Our mediation service, Haymarket Family Mediation, joins Voices in the Middle to promote child consultation in mediation. This involves the mediator meeting the children directly, in cases where the parents and mediator feel it would be helpful. This can help parents to overcome impasse where they are struggling to find the right answers.
If you are trying to make arrangements for your children and finding it difficult to reach an agreement with the other parent, contact us today to discuss your options.