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Reforms Encourage Parent Child Relationships

Law reform introduced this week will reinforce relationships between children and parents in separated families.

The changes coming into force this week will encourage parents to be more focused on the needs of their children following separation and to consider the role they play in their children’s lives.

The changes require the courts to presume that both parents involvement in the child’s life will further their development so long as it is safe to make this presumption. The welfare of the children involved will however remain the court’s paramount consideration.

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.”

The reforms include:

Introducing the new Family Court in England and Wales with a more simple single system and a network of single application points making it easier to take part in.

Introducing a 26 week time limit for care proceedings. This is designed to further reduce the excessive delays in care proceedings cases and improve certainty to the children involved.

New child arrangements orders encouraging parents to focus on the needs of the child rather than putting their own rights first.

Compulsory family mediation. This is to force couples to consider alternatives to stressful court battles to resolve financial and child care arrangements.

One of the main aims of the reforms is that no parent should be excluded from their children’s lives arbitrarily. The principle of the change is not to give parents new rights but to ensure that each parent has the opportunity to play an equal role in their child’s life.

This policy of parental involvement is the final part of the Children and Families Act 2014 to be implemented – this marks the end of a significant phase of reforms to the Family Justice system.

Children and Families Minister, Edward Timpson said:

“Having spent almost 10 years as a family barrister, I know nothing is more important than taking the time to listen to children and making sure their voices are heard loud and clear.This is a brand new system which puts the needs of children first, protects families from harmful and stressful battles in the courtroom and gives them greater support.


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