The degree to which children’s voices are directly heard in the family law system is currently being debated. The National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell, has called for greater participation from children in the process of establishing what is in their best interests. She argues participation can empower children and that “lawyers who often consulted directly with children said the best interests of the child tended to be consistent with [the children’s] views”. She has pointed out that many Independent Children’s Lawyers do not meet the children they represent. According to Federal Circuit Court judge Michael Baumann, we are likely to see increased direct engagement of children with judges, as already happens in countries such as Germany. Meanwhile, Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant has set up a committee to investigate how effectively children’s voices are being heard in the family law courts. At the moment, very few Australian judges wish to speak to children in chambers, usually in the presence of the children’s lawyer, as this is still quite a contentious issue.
Do you need assistance with a family law matter involving children? Do you have a matter in the family law system and think your children should be independently represented? If so, please contact Cristina Huesch, here at Alliance Family Law.