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New consultation on separate representation of children

The DCA has published a consultation paper designed to lead to new court rules providing for separate representation for children in family proceedings. The consultation is seeking views on the following proposals:

  1. A child should be made a party to proceedings only where there is a legal need to do so.
  2. When a decision is made to make a child a party to the proceedings CAFCASS should be the preferred choice of the court to act as the Children's Guardian.
  3. All levels of court and judiciary should have the authority to decide if a child should be made a party in all family proceedings.
  4. All levels of court should be able to hear applications by the child concerned for the court's permission to make an application for an order under section 8 of the Children Act 1989.
  5. Children who are able and who want to proceed without a guardian or a next friend should be able to do so in other family proceedings.
  6. It is not necessary for both the guardian and solicitor to attend all hearings in cases where there is separate representation.
  7. Children will be provided with reliable information during the course of proceedings to help them cope with associated anxieties and uncertainties.
  8. To promote a cultural change that will achieve a more child centred family justice system.

The consultation runs until 8 December 2006. The paper and questions for response can be found on the DCA website by following this link - http://www.dca.gov.uk/consult/separate_representation/cp2006.htm

4 September 2006