Balancing a Child's Best Interests and a Child's Views

In: The International Journal of Children's Rights
David Archard Department of Philosophy, Lancaster University

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Marit Skivenes University of Bergen, HEMIL-Centre

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We consider the problem of reconciling the two commitments to hear a child and to promote a child's best interests by identifying the principal issues at stake and illustrating them by reference to legal decision-making in the domains of health in the United Kingdom and custody and child protection in Norway. We agree that a child's views are not authoritative but dispute Harry Brighouse's claim that they are only of consultative value, affirming the fundamental right of a child capable of expressing a view of doing so and of thereby participating in the procedures where decisions affecting his or her interests are made. In conclusion we offer a checklist of questions that need to be asked about the way in which jurisdictions combine their explicit commitments to the two principles of best interests and hearing the child's views.

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