From the 22nd of October the much debated ‘Parental Involvement’ provision, pursuant to section 11 of the Children and Families Act 2014, will come into effect for proceedings issued after that date. This change seeks to emphasise that the welfare of the child should be at the heart of the family justice system.
Other changes introduced by the Act have been implemented in the following areas:-
• The creation of a new Single Family Court.
• A 26 week time limit imposed in nearly all care proceedings, in an attempt to minimise any distress caused to the child and restoring a sense of certainty.
• Separating couples have now to attend compulsory family mediation information meetings, subject to limited exceptions, before issuing applications at court encouraging parents to consider alternative solutions to their disputes.
• The introduction of new child arrangement orders in place of the previous ‘residence’ and ‘contact’ orders.
These reforms intend to encourage a positive relationship between parents; creating an amicable environment where by both parties can be supportive about the involvement of the child with the other parent. It reaffirms the notion that the courts consider both parental figures of importance in a child’s life.
However, it has been made clear that this new provision is not a presumption that a child’s time must be divided equally between the parents. The envisaged parental involvement can be direct or indirect. The reforms are part of the government’s attempt to focus the law and parents on the needs of children, with a view to protecting all concerned from the potential emotional harm that can often be inflicted in lengthy court cases.
The willingness of the parents to compromise to meet the wishes and feelings of their children are essential in limiting the adverse impact of divorce or separation on a family. Agreeing arrangements for children can be a delicate and challenging process, and our experienced family law team have the expert legal knowledge to assist in the negotiation of such settlements helping our clients achieve a solution they and, more importantly, their children are happy with.
To speak to a specialist family law solicitor call us on 0845 050 1958 or email us. Alternatively we also run a family law clinic at our Blackburn and Burnley offices every Thursday from 4.30 to 6.30pm. Appointment is not necessary.