Recent research into the experience of children and young people who have to go through private family court proceedings has come up with some recommendations to improve the process.

Researchers recommend that children should:

  • Be sent information about who they will meet and what they will be asked before the meeting
  • Have things explained in different ways so that they can understand what is happening
  • Be the ones to choose where, where and how to share their views
  • Be offered other ways of having their say that they feel comfortable with

The summary of their feedback was:

  • Children’s initial nerves were quickly dispelled and most felt relieved to talk about what they wanted to happen.
  • Most children said they felt listened to and that they could be open and honest
  • It was mainly the parents rather than the children who decided when, where and how the children talked with CAFCASS. For some children the place they met made them feel uncomfortable.
  • For some children the meeting was shorter than expected and they didn’t get asked as many questions as they expected.
  • Quite a few, especially older teenagers, felt confused during and after the meeting.
  • All the children found out what happened at court from their parents and a couple would have preferred to be told by someone outside the family, like CAFCASS or the judge.
  • Children did not know they could write a letter to the judge or meet them. One had been invited to go to court but chose not to because it felt too scary.
  • Children relied on and trusted their worker to be their voice in court, although, where they didn’t feel understood, they worried about what might happen next.