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Beviss and Beckingsale
Zoe Gaitskell

Proposed Changes in Children Law

Posted by Zoe Gaitskell on September 6th 2013 in All , FAMILY .

Changes in private family law proceedings in respect of children are in the process of being made which are intended to promote the resolution of disputes away from the Courts wherever possible. The main changes which are to be introduced by the provisions are:

  • The replacement of the 'Residence Order' and the 'Contact Order" by a new form of Order known as ‘a Child Arrangements Order’. The new order will deal with all arrangements concerning a child, such as who they live with, who they spend time with and who else the child should have contact with. The Child Arrangement Order will, in practice, have the same effect as a Residence or Contact Order. However it is hoped that the new terminology will encourage parents to focus on creating an environment which suits their children’s needs in light of their responsibilities towards them, rather than promoting a ‘winner’ and ‘loser’ atmosphere.
  • There will now be a presumption that a parent’s involvement in the life of their child/children involved in the proceedings will further the welfare of their child/children, unless the contrary is shown.
  • The requirement that the court should consider the children in any proceedings for divorce (or dissolution in the case of a civil partnership), nullity or judicial separation where relevant is to be removed. Any dispute about the arrangements for a child resulting from divorce, dissolution etc. in the future will be dealt with by way of a free-standing application to the court under the Children Act 1989.

Further, separated parents are encouraged to enter into a Parenting Agreement. This will set out their arrangements for the care of their children following their separation. It is suggested that a signed Parenting Agreement may have a part to play in any subsequent parental dispute.

It appears that the new framework is built on the understanding that the key to good parenting is an appreciation of the other parent’s role in a child’s life. If parents are able to cooperate and work together to prepare a Parenting Agreement after separation, this may mean Court proceedings are unnecessary. However where Court Applications are seen as necessary, it may be that any previous Parenting Agreement reached can assist the courts in dealing with the case in the child’s best interests.

Should you wish to enter into a Parenting Agreement please contact Karen-Lee Watts or Zoe Gaitskell on 01404 548050 or by email: klw@bevissandbeckingsale.co.uk or zg@bevissandbeckingsale.co.uk who will be happy to advise you on your position.