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New rights for separated Dads?

The Children’s Minister, Edward Timpson, has proposed a shake up to the Law which would give Fathers an automatic ‘right’ to spend time with their children unless they are likely to harm them.

It is understood that the Prime Minister is also supportive of the proposals and that the law may be altered next year.

At present, the law clearly states that the welfare of the children involved is always the paramount consideration. The Court does not focus on the rights of the parents but rather on the best interests of the child. The Court already recognises that it is, where possible, best for the child involved to maintain a relationship with both parents following a family breakdown. They do this in an absolutely child focused way and try to determine what would be best for the child.

Mr Timpson says that he feels the Family Law system is too adversarial and needs to make both parents feel ‘confident that the Court will consider fully the benefits of their involvement’. The Minister’s statement has been welcomed by father’s rights campaigners including Father’s for Justice, but has sparked outbursts of concern from Family Law Practitioners and indeed the Solicitors representing body. The Law Society has described the proposal as “seriously flawed” and has stated “We believe the government understands perfectly well that the case against a legislative presumption is underpinned by experience, expertise and evidence which are absent from the case for legislative change.”

The writer shares the Law Society’s concern that the proposed change may shift the focus away from the child and that this may have a negative effect on the outcome of Children Act cases. The judges in Children Act cases have a very difficult job and in the writer’s view they do, in the main, strike a good balance.

If you are trying to secure some contact with your child or have any other concerns arising from this blog please do not hesitate to contact our Family Law team.

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