The new Children and Families Bill passed its second reading on 25 February 2013 in the House of Commons. The Bill extends the statutory rights that both parents have in their children’s upbringing.
The Bill provides statutory recognition that it is in the child’s interest for both parents to remain involved in the child’s life, unless the child is at risk of harm, stating, “to presume, unless the contrary is shown” that the involvement of each of the child’s parents in his or her life “will further the child’s welfare”.
The Bill also replaces the current “residence” and “contact” orders with a single “child arrangements” order. This will set out where the children live and how much time they spend with the other parent. This is a welcome change as too often separated parents focus on whether one parent should have the label of a contact or a shared residence order, even though they have agreed the division of time. It will also help parents to move away from terminology with implies that there is a winner or a loser in disputes concerning children.
The Bill also contains further rights for employees in respect of parental leave and more rights for couples expecting a child. Flexible working requests will be considered from all employees, not just those who are parents or carers.
Further updates will be available on the Steeles Law website as the Children and Families Bill progresses through Parliament.
For advice on children matters, contact our friendly family team.