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Children's voices

Children's voices

Family disputes affect children greatly, yet their voices are often excluded from the family justice system. The Network members are keen to explore how a role for children in both family decision making and in family justice processes should be conceptualised and implemented. In particular:

  • will children be heard less in a move towards more mediated family disputes?
  • should children have a voice in the court room?
  • should children's rights trump parents' rights when a parent wishes to relocate abroad?
  • should the family justice system focus on children's welfare or children's rights?

Anne Barlow

  • 2015 with Ewing J, Hunter R, Smithson J. Children's voices: Centre-stage or side-lined in out-of-court dispute resolution in England and Wales?. Child and Family Law Quarterly, 27(1), 43-61. Full text.

Julie Doughty

  • 2010 ‘Opening up the family courts - what happened to children's rights?’ 10 Contemporary Issues in law, 50-75

Gillian Douglas

  • 2001 ‘with M Murch, M Robinson, L Scanlan and I Butler, ‘Children’s perspectives and experience of the divorce process’ Family Law 373-377
  • 2002 with I Butler, L Scanlan, M Robinson and M Murch, ‘Children’s Involvement in their Parents’ Divorce: Implications for Practice’ 16 Children and Society 89-102
  • 2003 Divorcing Children with I Butler, L Scanlan, M Robinson and M Murch, Jessica Kingsley Publishers 240 pp
  • 2003 with M Robinson, I Butler, L Scanlan and M Murch, 'Children's experience of their parents' divorce' in A-M Jensen and L McKee (eds) Children and the Changing Family: Between transformation and negotiation  RoutledgeFalmer, 76-89

Tess Ridge

  • 2002 Childhood Poverty and Social Exclusion: From a Child's Perspective. Bristol: Policy Press
  • 2007 Negotiating Childhood Poverty: Children's Subjective Experiences. In: Qvortrup, J., Wintersberger, H., Alaanen, L. and Olk, T., eds. Childhood, Generational Order and the Welfare State: exploring Children's Social and Economic Welfare. Odense: University Press of Southern Denmark

Liz Trinder

  • 2010 with Jenks, C., & Firth, A. Talking children into being in absentia? Children as a strategic and contingent resource in family court dispute resolution, 22 Child and Family Law Quarterly 234-257

[Whilst children’s welfare and wishes and feelings should be at the centre of court decision-making, in practice most children do not participate directly in decision-making processes in child contact cases. In this article we used conversation analysis to examine whether and how the needs and rights of these ‘absent’ children are invoked by parents and professionals in negotiations. Our analysis revealed that the needs and wishes of these children are regularly invoked by adults, but as a strategic and contingent argumentative resource, rather than as the starting point for the decision-making process].

  • 2009 What might children mean by a ‘meaningful relationship’? 15 Journal of Family Studies, 20-35

[The concept of a meaningful relationship is a key part of the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006. Although intuitively attractive as an idea there remain some questions about the precise meaning of the term 'meaningful'. In this paper I explored what children themselves might define by meaningful relationships. I drew on some material from a UK study of contact to illustrate some of the ways in which school-age children, of 7 years of age and upwards, might define meaningful relationships, and what implications that might have for policy and practice].

  • 1997 Competing constructions of childhood: children’s rights and children’s wishes in divorce. 19 Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 291-305


1997-2000, Children’s perspectives and experience of the divorce process (funded by the ESRC)