New international project on parental separation and care proceedings

The Hintalovon Foundation will be an official partner in the Council of Europe’s project for consultation of children. Having started in July 2021, the project takes into account their views for the preparation of non-binding standards on the best interest of the child in parental separation as well as in care proceedings.

When parents are separating or when authorities have to place children into care, children are highly impacted by the procedure and by the decisions taken. The Council of Europe’s expert group developing legal instruments and guidance in this specific areas has decided that children should also guide the intergovernmental work. The Council of Europe Children’s Rights Division has already a long-standing tradition of involving children in its work in all the relevant areas, including standard-setting activities on the rights of the child, monitoring member states’ commitments in implementing these standards and developing co-operation and capacity-building activities.

Consultation with children

During the project, children’s input will be gathered directly, through child consultations, and indirectly through the analysis of existing reports reflecting the views of children in the two thematic areas: parental separation and child care proceedings. This exercise aims to ensure that the standards and tools resulting from the work are guided by the expertise of children that either have been affected by the separation of their parents or have been placed into care.

Regarding the method of the child consultations, they will be based on semi-structured questions relating to the draft instruments and tools, which are formulated in a child-friendly language and are wide enough for children to add their own perspective and priorities. For the best possible understanding, the child consultations will be carried out in the children’s native languages. The consultation may be also introduced by exploring the issues in a more general way and in the most child-sensitive manner, in case of the presence of children who have gone through relevant and possibly traumatising experiences.

Studies

As the project has kick-started, the Council of Europe’s Committee of experts on the rights and the best interests of the child in parental separation and in care proceedings has published two studies that will form the basis of the further work for the elaboration of a non-binding legal instrument, considering the relevant elements of the studies. These feasibility studies are focusing on the legal instrument on the protection of the best interests of the child ‘in situations of parental separation’ and ‘in domestic law proceedings by public authorities to limit parental responsibilities or place a child in care’.

As part of the project, an additional mapping will be undertaken of previous child consultations on the same issues in Council of Europe member States, in order to extract relevant findings from former work that could feed into the drafting process of the upcoming instruments and tools.

The project is foreseen to come to its end in December 2022. At the end of the process, the results will be analysed by the consultants, in close collaboration with the national facilitators, and will feed into the finalisation of the draft instruments and tools serving the best interest of the child in parental separation and child care proceedings.

For more information of the project and on how the children’s views concerning parental separation and care proceedings should guide the international and European standards, you can visit the website of the Council of Europe.

Image from here.