The Ministry of Justice has been keen to bring this new law into effect where the family courts will presume that each parent will play a role in the life of their child. This emphasises the importance of children having a relationship with each parent.
The Ministry of Justice is keen to emphasise that this provision is not about giving parents 50/50 of their children’s time or any new “rights” but about “achieving a culture change by making clearer the Court’s approach to these issues”.
The introduction of Section 11 is intended to encourage parents to focus on the role that they each play in their children’s lives and also to be more focused on their children’s needs following separation. Section 11 will require the Family Courts to presume that each parent’s involvement in their children’s lives will further their welfare where it is safe to do so. The needs of the children, however, will always remain the paramount priority of the Courts.
Amanda Owens, head of the family team at Steeles Law comments: “This is an important change in the law and will be welcomed by many parents who wish to continue to play an important role in their children’s lives. It is great news that the importance of both parents is now going to be properly recognised by the Courts. Family practitioners will be able to reassure their clients when they are representing them in Children Act proceedings that they have a valuable and important role to play in their children’s lives and that this will be the starting point for the Court”.
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