Proposals For Canvassing Views of Children Considered
Children could be spared confusion and possible upset by a simple change to new forms for family actions, the Faculty of Advocates has suggested.
The Scottish Civil Justice Council (SCJC) has drafted two forms to tell youngsters that an action has been raised and how it affects them, and to give them the chance to put their views to the court.
The proposal is that Form F9.1 would intimate the action and seek any comments at that stage, and Form F9.2 would be sent to the child for his or her views if notice has been given that the action is to be defended.
The Faculty said in a submission to the SCJC that it considered the two-stage process to be positive.
“However, we do consider that it may be confusing, and perhaps emotionally difficult, for children to be asked for their views twice in quick succession, as is envisaged in the draft forms.
“It would be natural for a child to think that the judge wants him or her to fill in the form immediately with F9.1 and then to be puzzled or distressed by the receipt of a second form. There will be a risk that the child thinks his or her first answer was in some way unacceptable.
“We would suggest that the Form F9.1 is sent to the child when the action is raised to inform the child of the court action, but that it does not at that stage ask the child to state his or her views.
“The Form F9.2 would be sent out a week later…whether or not a notice of intention to defend had been lodged, in order that the child is given the opportunity to give their view to the court…”
The Faculty noted that it was intended to consult groups of children on the content of the forms, and it agreed that “this will be a valuable exercise.”
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