The Child’s Opinion and Position in Care Order Proceedings

An Analysis of Judicial Discretion in the County Boards’ Decision-Making

In: The International Journal of Children's Rights
Anne-Mette Magnussen Associate Professor, Department of Health and Social Sciences, Bergen University College, Norway; Department of Administration and Organization Theory, University of Bergen, Norway

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Marit Skivenes Professor, Department of Administration and Organization Theory, University of Bergen, Norway, Christiesgate 17, 5020 Bergen, Norway (corresponding author)

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This paper examines whether, and in what way, the child participates in care order decisions heard by the Norwegian County Boards. If they are heard, how are their opinions weighed, and do the children themselves present their perspective of their situation? We analysed a total of 53 written rulings on care orders that included all the publicly available decisions in the time period from 2007–2013 that concerned a child in the age range of 5–11 years old. The findings show that the child’s opinion in seven out of ten cases is not mentioned or only very briefly mentioned. In the remaining of the cases, the opinion of the child is considered and given due weight. Finally, we find that rarely is the child’s perspective of the situation referred to in the written decisions. This means that the most important person in a care order decision-making process – the child – is not at the centre of the proceeding. The general conclusion is that children’s views about their needs, interests and perception of the situation are not evident in the County Boards’ reasoning in these care order cases, and it is the exception that their opinion is considered.

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