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Children's Participation in Family Law Proceedings: A Step Too Far or a Step Too Small?

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The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 established children's rights to have their views considered in family law proceedings. These rights go further than elsewhere in the UK: in requiring parents to consult their children when making any 'major decision', in creating a range of mechanisms for children to state their views and through facilitating children becoming party to legal proceedings if they are legally competent. Such rights are not without controversy, either in abstract (Is it in children's best interests to be involved in court proceedings? Should children have such rights?) or in practice (Do children and parents know of these rights and accompanying duties? How do legal professionals judge a child's competency?). This paper explores such controversies, using findings from a feasibility study undertaken with children, parents and legal professionals.
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Keywords: Children; Competency; Courts; Participation; Representation; Rights

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Edinburgh and Children in Scotland 2: Centre for Social Science Research University of Cape Town 3: Glasgow Centre for the Child & Society University of Glasgow 4: School of Law Napier University

Publication date: 2004-03-01

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