The Right to Participate – an Exploration of the Collection and Assessment of Children’s Evidence in Family law.
The right of a child to participate in legal proceedings is the culmination of balancing professional obligations and responsibilities, duties to the court and principles of law. Despite much commentary on the ‘right’ in broad terms, it remains under-explored and under-exercised. Although evidence demonstrates that children’s participation produces better outcomes generally, there continues to be diverging legal opinion on how to fully realise this right and concerns about whether Professional Standards are being met. By framing this ‘right’ as an interplay of both legal and social science issues, its pursuit can be explored and better understood as a multidimensional challenge – with the legal rights, responsibilities and principles viewed through a prism of relevant social science knowledge and practice. This research investigates how the child participation right can be better realised - by identifying and exploring alternative methods for the collection, presentation and assessment of this evidence.