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Whose Wishes and Feelings? Children's Autonomy and Parental Influence in Family Court Enquiries

Greg Mantle, Tina Moules, Ken Johnson, Jane Leslie, Sarah Parsons and Ray Shaffer
The British Journal of Social Work
Vol. 37, No. 5 (July 2007), pp. 785-805
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23722532
Page Count: 21
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Whose Wishes and Feelings? Children's Autonomy and Parental Influence in Family Court Enquiries
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Abstract

The importance of the child's right to be heard and for their wishes and feelings to be taken notice of is now accepted across a broad professional and research terrain. Increasingly, children are being treated as active participants in the processes and decisions that affect them. In cases of divorce and separation, especially where parental relationships are conflicted, the accepted wisdom in the UK for many years has been for children to be protected rather than empowered. More recently, practitioners, policy makers and researchers have looked for ways to involve children, although the 'welfare' of the child has remained paramount. In this context, the question of how to ensure that wishes and feelings expressed are those that authentically belong to the child, rather than to their parent, sibling or other, has achieved a new significance. This article presents findings from recent research to illustrate how the tension between protection and empowerment is being played out in this aspect of welfare report enquiries carried out by CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) private law practitioners.

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