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Children’s rights in custody and access proceedings

The best interests of the child during divorce and custody proceedings in Belgium: achieving child-friendly litigation

This project describes the implementation of children’s rights in custody proceedings and evaluates procedural measures to enhance children’s wellbeing and to reshape Belgian family law.

Research funding: Faculty of Law, Ghent University

The first part of the PhD describes the framework embedded in international and regional children’s rights that member States have to adhere to during custody and access proceedings. It examines binding provisions, such as the Convention on Children’s Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, but also draws inspiration from non-binding sources such as the guidelines on child-friendly justice. 

The second part of the PhD will focus on the consequences custody and access proceedings have on children’s wellbeing, by focusing on psychological and sociological research. Next, the researcher will analyse Belgian family law and try to discover where children’s rights are not being adequately protected. Attention will be paid not only to the law in books but also to the law in practice by interviewing Belgian family judges. After the discovery of problem areas, the researcher will suggest procedural safeguards that could help protect children’s rights and render the judicial proceedings more child-friendly. 

The central research question is: How can the interests of the child during divorce proceedings, hereby imposing custody decisions or approving parental agreements, be effectively protected in the Belgian legal system? 



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