Parents' and Children's Views on Talking to Judges in Parenting Disputes in Australia
38 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2007
Date Written: February 2007
Judicial interviews with children in contested parenting proceedings are an uncommon and contentious practice in Australia and many other common law jurisdictions. While there has been some debate about the merits and risks of such a practice among professionals and academic commentators, there is little research on the views of children and parents. In this study, children and parents involved in contested and non-contested family law matters in Australia were asked to comment on this practice. A related paper explores the views of Australian judges on talking with children in chambers, and their experience of doing so (Parkinson, P. and Cashmore, J., 'Judicial Conversations with Children in Parenting Disputes: The Views of Australian Judges').
Children and parents had mixed views but most children said that it should be an option even if they did not want it for themselves. Children who had been the subject of contested proceedings were generally keen to talk to the judge even though most had been interviewed by an independent expert and had a child legal representative. Resident parents were, however, much more likely than non-resident parents to be in favour of children being able to talk with the judge, either alone or together with a counsellor or 'interpreter'. Both parents and children who were in favour of children talking directly to judges gave very similar reasons. They were related to children's right to be heard and acknowledged, the value of direct communication and the likely beneficial effect on the decision.
Keywords: children, parental separation, divorce, parenting disputes, participation, voice of the child, judicial interviews
JEL Classification: K10, J12, K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
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By Fiona Raitt