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Parents and Children

Family Group Conferences

The Family Rights Group has recently reviewed their 2008 guidance on the use of Family Group Conferences. The FJC has endorsed both the original guidance and the updated guidance below.

Children Giving Evidence

FJC Event: Infant Contact

In December 2010 the FJC hosted an event in conjunction with Coram. Entitled ‘Infant Contact: Keeping the baby in mind’, the debate focused on the issues raised by recent research on the effects on infants in foster care of extensive contact with their birth families.

Children’s Perspectives

“Inside the family court: Children’s experiences of family proceedings” DVD

  • Produced by the Voice of the Child Group of the FJC, the DVD includes interviews with young people who have been through the court process and hears from District Judge (Magistrates’ Court) Nick Crichton who chairs the Working Group.
  • The film aims to highlight how young people and children feel about the court process and their involvement in it.
  • This DVD can be used as a training tool, and is available by email from the Family Justice Council secretariat.

Parental Perspectives

The FJC, in conjunction with the Nuffield Foundation, commissioned a review of research into the perspectives of parents on the operation of the child related aspects of the family justice system. The research was undertaken by Joan Hunt, a Research Fellow in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at Oxford University and was published in May 2010.

Parents who lack Capacity

In May 2010 the FJC published guidance in relation to the difficult issues that arise in public law cases where a parent lacks capacity to conduct the proceedings. The Family Procedure Rules Committee had referred to issue to the FJC for consideration following developments such as the emphasis on pre-proceedings work with parents contained in the Public Law Outline.

Judges meeting Children

The FJC has produced guidance for judges who meet children in the course of family proceedings. The guidelines are designed to encourage judges to enable children to feel more involved and connected to proceedings.

Transparency and Privacy

The Ministry of Justice published a consultation paper in July 2006 which looked at the issue of transparency and privacy in family courts. The FJC responded to the consultation in November 2006. The MOJ published a response to the consultation in March 2007 and a few months later in June 2007 published a further consultation paper on the issue which the FJC responded to in October 2007.

The results of the MOJ confidence and confidentiality consultation of 2007 suggested that children had a real desire to be active participants in proceedings that affected them. Therefore in March 2008 the Voice of the Child Committee of the FJC published a paper addressing the involvement of children in family proceedings including issues such as their attendance at hearings and having direct contact with judges.

The FJC invited comments on the paper and has produced a summary of the responses received.

Representation of Children

In September 2006 the Ministry of Justice launched a consultation regarding the representation of children in family law cases, the FJC responded to the consultation in December 2006.