Dr Tamar Morag
Dr. Tamar Morag is an Adjunct Professor at the Hebrew University Law School in Jerusalem and the Striks Law School at College of Management Academic Studies. Her research and teaching interests are family law, child law and law and social change.
Dr. Morag is a graduate of Hebrew University Law School. She received an LLM from American University, Washington College of Law and an LLM and SJD from the University of Michigan Law School..
Dr. Morag has been involved in child advocacy throughout her career. She was the founding Director of the Center for the Child and the Law at Israeli National Council for the Child and served as the Center's Director for ten years. She served as Vice Chair of the Israeli legislative committee appointed to reevaluate the entire body of Israeli child law in light of the UN Convention on the rights of the child. In this capacity she chaired the legislative subcommittee on child participation in divorce proceedings. The subcommittee developed a legislative proposal for child participation in family courts that was recently adopted by the Israeli Ministry of Justice and incorporated into Israeli law. Dr. Morag also chaired the legislative subcommittee on separate representation of children. She was appointed as a member of the implementation committees of the subcommittees on child participation and on separate representation for children.
Children’s Participation in Israeli Family Courts: An Account of an Ongoing Learning Process
The importance of children’s participation in family conflicts has gained increasing recognition in recent years, under the influence of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and a growing body of research pointing to the significance of participation both for the children involved and for the decision-making process itself.
In many countries, this process has been accompanied by changes in practice. Whereas in the past children have largely been excluded from legal proceedings touching on family conflicts, many countries have now expanded the scope of children’s participation in these proceedings. Notwithstanding ongoing disagreements on the advantages and disadvantages of children’s participation in family conflicts, the focus of the discussion has largely shifted in recent years from the question of whether children should participate in legal proceedings involving family conflicts to the question of when and how they should be involved.
The presentation will discuss the model of children’s participation in proceedings conducted in family courts, which was implemented in a pilot project in Israel during the years 2006-2009 and applied via legislation to all family courts in 2014. Under this model, a special section for Child participation, staffed by social workers has been established within the Family Courts Social Services. Children may choose between a direct meeting with the judge, or the option of communicating with the court via a social worker working within the child participation unit.
The presentation will report on insights gained during the implementation of the pilot and after its conclusion through findings collected in the course of two studies. One was a formative evaluation study that accompanied the pilot project, and the other a follow-up study conducted three years after the pilot’s conclusion. In combination both studies point to the important contribution of children’s participation to the legal decisions reached and the children’s well-being. Lessons learned likewise pertain to the factors facilitating and impeding the full implementation of the right to participation in Israeli law.
Israel was the first county to establish a governmental pilot project aimed at regulating child participation in Family Courts which was accompanied by an evaluation study and aimed at establishing legislation in this field. The outcome of the pilot should therefore be of significant interest to the International Community.