Family and Children
The government proposes to make amendments to the Children Act 1989 in relation to private law involving the care of a child.
An online support service is to be launched by the end of 2012 offering help and advice to separating couples with children.
The government will recommend meditation when disputes arise and parents do not wish matters to go to court.
It is proposed that the existing contact and residence orders will be replaced with Child Arrangement orders. This is to try and shift the focus to the needs of the child.
The government’s consultation proposes four options:
The Presumption Approach: the court would be required to presume that the child would benefit from the involvement of both parents unless proved otherwise
The Principle Approach: the court will have regard to the principle that a child benefits from a relationship with both parents but there will be no intention to prescribe any specific amount of time with each parent.
The Starting Point Approach: the court’s starting point will be that the child benefits from the involvement of both parents
The Welfare Checklist Approach: A welfare checklist would be considered by the court when awarding or removing parental responsibility.
When a court order is breached within the first 12 months it is proposed that the matter should be returned to court quickly and before the same judge where possible.
It is also suggested that refusal to facilitate contact will lead to greater penalties including the withholding of passports and driving licences and imposing curfews on the parent.