Potential Reform Could Introduce Presumption of Shared Parenting

A legal duty may be placed on Courts to ensure that both parents are given access to children in divorce settlements under new plans being drawn up by the Government. These plans are said to be supported by Deputy Prime Minster, Nick Clegg and Welfare Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith.

The most common outcome in the family court under the present system is that children live with their mothers. The Office of National Statistics has found that one in three children live without their father.

The law could potentially be altered by inserting a presumption of shared parenting into the Children Act 1989. Alternatively, the Government could support a backbench bill which would require courts and councils to “operate under the presumption that the rights of a child include growing up knowing and having access to and contact with both parents involved.”

The proposed reforms have been viewed as a big step forward by campaigners active in promoting the role of fathers. However, the reforms could potentially face opposition from those in favour of the Family Justice Review findings which did not include these reforms claiming they would put too much pressure on judges, preferring instead to continue with the current system of cases being determined at the discretion of the judge.

Whilst only time will tell whether these specific reforms will come into practice, it has been made clear by the Government that they support the position of the Family Justice Review – “that the vast majority of children benefit from a continuing relationship with both parents after separation”.

Charlotte Capes
CCapes@LawBlacks.com 0113 2279205

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