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Children's wishes should be given more weight in separation cases, PL whip says

PL whip Godfrey Farrugia calls for change in law to ensure that childrens' wishes are respected in divorce and separation cases

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
25 January 2017, 11:03pm
PL Whip Godfrey Farrugia
PL Whip Godfrey Farrugia
The law should be amended to ensure that childrens' wishes are respected in divorce and separation cases, government Whip Godfrey Farrugia said.

As it stands, it is the sitting magistrate or judge who gets to decide whether minors should personally testify in the presence of their parents, or whether a lawyer should testify in their names. Moreover, the child's lawyer isn't appointed upon the child's request, but upon the request of the court, the mediator or one of the parents.

In his parliamentary adjournment tonight, Farrugia said that the time has come to ensure that children testify according to their own wishes and interests.

"The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, of whih Malta is a signatory, states that children should have the right to express themselves," Farrugia said. "In my line of work as a doctor, I have encountered cases whereby parents try to win custody of their children by making them promises, by giving them presents to win them over, or by passing negative comments against the other parent to the child. I believe this is wrong."

"In such circumstances, children have the right to be heard out. Perhaps the child would rather live with one parent and not the other, or would not want to visit one of the parents, or would not feel comfortable with the magistrate's arrangement or the parents' joint custody agreement."