Guardians decision ‘led by cost-cutting’

Family courts leaders have accused the government of having a cost-cutting agenda after it decided against granting separate representation rights to all children in contact and residence cases.

The plans, published for consultation by the Department for Constitutional Affairs, mean children involved in private law cases would be given a court guardian only where legally necessary, such as where a child has evidence that cannot be given by another party.

But Alistair MacDonald, joint chair of the Association of Lawyers for Children, said there was no “welfare justification” for the decision and that it seemed financially motivated.

 Alison Paddle (pictured), chair of guardians’ body Nagalro, said: “It seems that this is governed by cost cutting rather than the principle of ensuring that children need access to legal representation.”

Section 122 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, which came into force at the start of the year, was meant to bring in separate representation for children in all private law proceedings, expanding on family court rule 9.5, which allows it in the most complex cases.

But the DCA delayed implementation while it considered more evidence on its likely impact.

Separate Representation of Children

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