Family courts to presume that each parent will play a role in the life of their child
From 22nd October there will be an amendment to the Children and Families Act 2014 which will apply to all cases started on or after that date. It does not apply to cases already going through the system. The amendment has been made to encourage parents to be more focused on the children’s needs after separation and will require our courts to presume that each parent’s involvement in the child’s life will further that child’s welfare. This is subject always to safety. The needs of the child will still remain the paramount priority of our family courts.
The Justice Minister, Simon Hughes, said “We have made bold reforms so that the welfare of children is at the heart of the family justice system, and there can be no doubt that parents play a very important role in every child’s life. Following break up of relationships we are encouraging all parents to focus on the needs of the child rather than what they want for themselves.
No parent should be excluded from their child’s life for no good reason. This change in the law is not about giving parents new “rights” but makes clear to parents and everybody else that the family courts will presume that each parent will play a role in the future life of their child.”.
The wording of the new section is such that “involvement” can mean involvement of any kind, either direct or indirect, but does not mean that there should be an equal division of a child’s time between its parents.
I am sceptical that the new section will make any difference to the way that our family courts deal with these disputes but will report back.
Watch this space …