Openness carries risks children may not understand, warns Resolution

31 Aug 2006

Family lawyers group, Resolution, has voiced fears over the risk of placing too much emphasis on children’s views about allowing greater openness in the family courts.

Responding to Harriet Harman’s announcement of the launch of a new website to hear children’s views, Resolution chairman Andrew Greensmith said:

“Openness carries risks as well as benefits, especially where children’s lives are concerned.

“Of course, the interests of children are paramount in the debate about how open family courts should be. But comment is most valuable if it is informed comment. Children who have experienced the current system will have done so at a time of great emotional upheaval. They may not recognise the long-term damage that can be caused by too much openness about their family’s life. Once information is in the public domain, like information on the internet, it is there forever, however damaging it is.”

Resolution is stressing the difficulty of achieving “anonymity”, especially in small close-knit communities. It has urged the government to adopt a cautious, stepped approach to change.

“Justice has to be seen to be done, but over-exposure of personal details can actually work against justice rather than towards it,” says Andrew Greensmith.