Commenting on the reports today that children, campaigners and some judges are calling for a change in the law so that children at the heart of family cases in England and Wales can talk privately to the judge if they so choose, Sandra Davis, Head of Mishcon de Reya’s Family department says:
“Children's voices are generally heard through the mouthpiece of the social worker but the interviews are generally carried out at a fairly late stage in the process when children's views have often become polarised.
“Interviewing children in contact residence or relocation cases by judges has taken place regularly in Germany. Provided judges are given appropriate training as to how to interview children and that these interviews take place at an early stage so that the children's views have some impartiality, this would be a welcome step.
“In my experience, this has happened on only one occasion where the outcome would have been very different if the judge had not spoken to each of the children on their own. He listened to what the children had to say and the ultimate order echoed what they said they wanted to happen. It was immensely gratifying and we at Mishcon de Reya encourage further consideration of children’s opinions in these matters.”