Voice of the Child
Family law clients regularly express concerns that their children's voices are not being heard and their views are not being taken into account by the Courts. Children themselves caught up in marital breakdowns and disputes express the wish to have their views heard and taken into account.
Article 42A.4.5 of the Constitution provides that provision shall be made by law for securing, as far as is practicable, in all proceedings concerning childcare, adoption, guardianship, custody of or access to any child who is capable of forming his/her own views, the views of the child shall be ascertained and given due weight having regard to the age and maturity of the child.
The ways the Court can hear the voice of the child can be by the child giving direct evidence (which is rare), the child being interviewed by the Judge privately (becoming more common), or the child can be interviewed by a specialist, such as a child psychologist, who can report the child's views to the Court (very common). To give full effect to the Constitution, proper funding needs to be immediately provided by the Government to support the Courts and the entire system to ensure that the Voice of the Child is heard in all cases, not just those where the parties can afford to engage private specialists.