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Proposals to enable children to see both their parents are launched

Plans to strengthen the law so children continue to see both parents if they separate have been put forward by ministers.

The Government believes that where it is safe and in the child’s best interest, the law should make it clearer that children benefit from having both parents actively involved in their lives, with both sharing responsibility in decisions about their upbringing.

The majority of parents who separate reach their own agreements for their children. However, Ministers are concerned that when disputes arise one of the first things that can be overlooked is ensuring children have a strong relationship with both parents.

Current legislation sets out the clear principle that a child’s welfare is always paramount in any family court decision about their future. But the benefit of ongoing involvement with both parents is not explicitly stated in law – although it is factored into decisions.

Ministers believe this creates a perception the law does not fully recognise both parents’ roles and there is an inbuilt bias towards one or other parent.

The consultation sets out four options for amending the Children Act 1989 to enshrine shared parenting in law. Ministers believe this will encourage more separated parents to resolve disputes out of court and agree care arrangements that fully involve them both.

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