Having recently attended the Principal Registry of the Family Division (PRFD) for a first appointment of a child contact matter, it was interesting to note that the Court insisted upon the attendance of children over the age of 10. Ordinarily District Judges’ are of the opinion that a Court is not the place for children.
It was interesting to see the benefits of having children in attendance, namely that officers of the Children and Family Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) could discuss the substantive matter with a child as to whether they would want to have contact with the ‘absent parent’. This would appear to be a far better use of Court time rather than making parents wait the obligatory 14 weeks for a CAFCASS appointment. However, what of the risk to the child?
It is somewhat of an overwhelming experience attending Court, particularly if you’re not used to the formal settings. What, therefore, would a child of 10 make of it?
It poses the emotive question as to whether Court time should be saved (particularly in the current economic climate) against the overall question of whether a child’s welfare should still be regarded as the paramount consideration?
Jonathan Salter, Family Law Consultant