Family judges must speak to children say MPs

A cross party parliamentary group has called for family judges to take the time to talk things through with the children whose lives they can affect so greatly with rulings.

Last week the Child Protection All Party Parliamentary Group released a report detailing various recommendations for government action in relation to the family justice system. The report was critical of the government for not going far enough with the reforms laid out in the Children and Families Bill. For example, plans to impose a 26 week time limit for completing care cases has been criticised on the grounds that some interventions require longer. Care services have been under enormous strain following austerity cuts and according to the parliamentary group more must be done to help children as a result.

Whilst some of the government’s reforms are praised, such as the plans to prevent hold-ups in the care system, the report stresses great care must be taken when implementing changes so as to protect young people. Various discussions with young people revealed deep disgruntlement that family judges take important decisions with enormous impact upon their lives without involving them in the process.

As a result, MPs have suggested that family courts only appoint expert family law judges who should regularly communicate with any children to whom cases may concern.

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