The Government has recently announced proposals relating to child care arrangements post family breakdown. The main point set out in the media is that courts in England and Wales will be required to operate under some sort of presumption of shared parenting unless evidence shows that it will be dangerous to do so.
The Government has launched a consultation offering four different approaches for amending Section 1 of The Children Act 1989 and further, how to toughen sanctions to enforce breach of court orders regarding child care arrangements.
The announcement follows a publication of the Norgrove report a few months ago which was commissioned to look into, amongst other things, the issue of child care arrangements following relationship breakdown. The report advised against adopting a shared parenting model operating inAustraliabased upon a presumption of 50:50 division of time on the basis that research has shown that the Australian model is not without its own problems.
At present all applications to court for contact and/or residence as they are currently called are determined in accordance with the welfare principle which is essentially what is in the child/children's best interests taking into account a number of factors (please see our frequently asked questions section under Lupton Fawcett Family and Divorce services on our website for further details). Put simply, in practice, courts in the vast majority of cases already reach the decision that it is in a child's/children's best interest to have a continuing relationship with each parent save in exceptional circumstances.
Why the need for the new proposals?
The benefit of the Government issuing its statement and launching the consultation to increase awareness is that this proposed “new” approach will hopefully filter down to those experiencing relationship breakdown and having to navigate their way through sorting out arrangements for the care of their children.
Following the recent changes to the law in April of last year in the form of the family procedure rules 2010, encouraging attendance at mediation and other forms of alternative resolution, it is hoped that this recent announcement by the Government will further assist getting the message out there that it is far better to try to resolve matters consensually as opposed to firing off litigation proceedings which, unless certain circumstances apply, will result in the courts operating from the principle that the child/children should have a meaningful relationship with the other parent.
At Lupton Fawcett Family and Divorce Services we are experienced in dealing with a broad spectrum of issues surrounding children post relationship breakdown. We also offer a comprehensive family mediation service and are experienced in child mediation work. For more details please contact Andrea Dyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.