Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID)

Abstract ─ Kay Tisdall, University of Edinburgh; Fiona Morrison & Judith Warburton, University of Stirling; Alison Reid, Clan Childlaw

Undue influence? Children’s views in contested child contact cases

Despite the widespread ratification of the UNCRC, children continue to struggle to have their participation rights recognised and supported. This is evident within family law, where despite often progressive and strong legislation, children’s views are often not heard or give due weight, when parent-child contact is contested within the courts. This paper will explore barriers to children’s participation rights being realised. It will use Scotland as the example, as it has strong legal safeguards and numerous mechanisms, yet it is now widely recognised neither are ensuring children’s legal rights are implemented. The paper will draw on recent empirical research with children, the judiciary and international experts, combined with an analysis of reported case law and relevant literature, to explore the barriers ‘on the ground’ for children’s participation rights. In particular, the paper will focus on adults’ concerns that children have been unduly influenced by one or more of their parents, the implications thereof, and how such concerns could be addressed and re-conceptualised for a better recognition of children’s rights.