Childcare laws across the UK look set to change under a proposed new court system overhaul announced recently in Parliament.
Ken Clarke, the UK’s Justice Secretary, announced recently that the government is planning to revise the Children Act 1989, with the effect of family court judges needing to presume that formerly to a dispute, parenting would had been shared. This is an apparent step forward for equal rights for parents of both sexes, or in legal same sex partnerships, in terms of the contact that each parent would be able to have after the dispute has been resolved.
Ken Clarke recently spoke on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, and highlighted that the motivation for this new revision reflects the views of most people, and that responsibilities and rights for both parents should be preserved, proving the greatest opportunity for children to stay in on-going contact with both parents.
He further stated the fact that society now recognises the equality of parent-ship and right to involvement in the lives of their children, which is step forward from previous maternal favourability in legal disputes, and this amendment in the court of justice reflects this evolution in the proper way.
A ministerial working group has been established furthermore in response to this societal change to help form the most appropriate draft for the amendment, with the group made up of five members – the justice minister Jonathon Djanogly, the work and pensions minister Maria Miller, the equalities minister Lynne Featherstone, and the education ministers Sarah Teather and Tim Loughton.
A similar revision to the Children Act 1989 is also being implemented to help improve the rights for grandparents after divorce, and the ministerial working group is expected to investigate the continuation of a child’s relationship with members of both sides of the family to help recognise its importance.
The ministerial group will be working to push for unprecedented deadlines for the court to deal with in relation to the amendment, and Clarke has stated that courts will have six months to act in cases which involve child custody and adoption, though leniency will be given for situations that are more complicated.
This news has followed an independent review on the system of family justice, where the economist David Norgrove stated that it would be too problematic for judges to appoint and divide child contact time between divorced parents. It is however, clear with the government approval of this instalment that there is disagreement with Norgrove’s findings.
Furthermore, an additional £10 million will be reserved by the government to help support mediation services to reduce the number of cases ending up in court. If cases do end up in court, then the government believes that the amendment will significantly aid each parent in equal contact with their child or children, to help eliminate exclusion and to promote fairness and stability.