Children, campaigners and some judges are calling for a change in the law so that children at the heart of family cases in England and Wales can talk in private to the judge if they so choose.
More than 100,000 children were involved in family court cases over the past year, according to the guardian service Cafcass. Many are at the centre of bitter fights - either between their parents or between their families and local authorities. The decisions made will have a fundamental impact on their lives. Yet they do not give evidence directly, nor routinely meet the judge. Instead, Cafcass asks them about their wishes and feelings and reports to the court. This is intended to protect the child - but many children are unhappy with this, and feel they don't have a voice. It can mean they distrust the process and won't support the decision made. At a recent conference the president of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, said it always struck him as curious that children were "invisible" in family cases.