Subjects with agency? Children’s participation in family law proceedings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Galvanised by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, many jurisdictions now recognise children’s rights to participate in decisions that affect them. While such legal rights have increased, research on family law proceedings shows how children’s views can still be undermined, ignored or not even sought in decisions about them. This article uses the academic resources of childhood studies, to consider dominant and alternative narratives of children’s participation within Scottish family law. Drawing upon reported case law and empirical research, the article concludes that children’s participation gains protection by being institutionalised but children’s participation is attenuated because it is not recognised as relational and contextual. As rationality, consistency and autonomy are privileged, the weight given to children’s views is lessened by concerns about children being manipulated or distressed. Courts and their decisions may be child-focused, centring on children’s welfare, but they are not child-inclusive, involving children in decision-making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-379
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Volume38
Issue number4
Early online date3 Oct 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2016

Keywords

  • family law
  • participation
  • views
  • children
  • manipulation
  • children’s rights

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