Britain to change 1989 Children’s Act to improve parental rights

November 20, 2012

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2095671/Childs-right-absent-father-Law-help-millions-broken-homes.html#ixzz2CjFGOdUk

 

Child’s right to see an absent father: Law to help millions from broken  homes

  • Government to draw up radical changes to the  1989 Children’s Act
  • £10m will be pledged to help couples settle  out of court
  • Figures show one in five children lose  contact with a parent after separation

By James Chapman UPDATED:19:14 EST, 2 February 2012

Millions of children from broken homes are to  be granted new rights to a ‘full and continuing relationship’ with both their  parents.

The move is designed to ensure that the  parent who leaves the family home – most commonly the father – cannot be cut out  of their children’s lives following an acrimonious separation.

Ministers have decided that a change in the  law is vital in the face of heartbreaking evidence that huge numbers of  youngsters whose families split up lose contact with one parent for  ever.

Ministers decided a change in the law is vital to prevent youngsters whose families split up from losing contact with a parentMinisters decided a change in the law is vital to  prevent youngsters whose families split up from losing contact with a parent

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke have been at odds over the proposals
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke have been at odds over the proposals

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Justice Secretary  Kenneth Clarke have been at odds over the proposals

Courts will be put under a duty to ensure  that unless their welfare is threatened by staying in touch with either their  mother or father, children have an ‘equal right to a proper relationship with  both’.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith  and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have dismissed objections from Justice  Secretary Kenneth Clarke and overturned the findings of a major review of family  law which was published last year.

On Monday, the Government will announce a  ministerial working group that will draw up radical changes to the 1989 Children  Act.

The Act states that the child’s needs come  first in law courts, but campaigners for fathers’ rights complain that judges  repeatedly pander to the idea that mothers are ‘more important’ than  fathers.

Unmarried fathers say they are often at a  particular disadvantage, having to apply for a ‘parental responsibility order’  through a court or have one granted through an agreement with the  mother.

‘The Act is going to be rewritten,’ said a  Government source. ‘The welfare of children must of course remain paramount – but alongside that there will be an equal right for a child to have a proper  relationship with both parents.

Children's Minister Tim Loughton said courts are 'rarely the best place' for resolving conflicts between parents about the care of children
Children's Minister Tim Loughton said courts are 'rarely the best place' for resolving conflicts between parents about the care of children

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton (right) said courts are  ‘rarely the best place’ for resolving conflicts between parents about the care  of children

‘There should be no inbuilt legal bias  towards the father or mother, and where there are no welfare issues, we want to  see this principle reinforced through law.

‘This is about children. We want to be clear  that both parents should have a full and continuing role in their children’s  life after a separation.’

Ministers will pledge £10million for  mediation services to encourage more couples to settle their disputes out of  court.

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton told the  Mail: ‘The courts are rarely the best place for resolving private disputes about  the care of children. That’s why we want to see greater use of mediation to  solve parental disputes out of court.

Betrayal of the family

‘It is also right that we continue to  encourage fathers to take responsibility as equal parents and to be fully  involved with their children from the outset.’

The decision overturns the main finding of a  family justice review, conducted for the Ministry of Justice by businessman  David Norgrove, which was published in November.

It concluded that giving fathers shared or  equal time, or even the right to maintain a meaningful relationship  with  their children, ‘would do more harm than good’.

The proposals immediately sparked a Cabinet  revolt, led by Mr Duncan Smith and Mr Clegg, who insisted that the law must be  amended to strengthen fathers’ rights.

Official figures show that one in five  children from broken homes lose touch with their absent parent, usually their  father, within three years and never see them again.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2095671/Childs-right-absent-father-Law-help-millions-broken-homes.html#ixzz2CmNL7yyR Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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