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20 November

20th Nov - Changes in the law for separated parents and their children

The final part of the Children and Families Act 2014 came into force on 22 October 2014.  The bulk of the Act came into force in April of this year, and changed the way the courts think about the arrangements that separated parents make for their children. 

The Act’s predecessor, the Children Act 1989, had as its fundamental principle that the welfare of the child or children will be the court’s primary consideration, and this very much remains. 

The final part to come into force is section 11 of the Children and Families Act, which embodies in law that the court will presume, unless there is evidence to the contrary, that the involvement of both parents in the life of the child will further the child’s welfare. 

It has been suggested by the media that this represents an assumption that a child’s time will be shared equally between its parents – this is not the case.  Involvement is defined as either direct (spending time with) or indirect (through letters, cards, emails, sometimes telephone calls and Skype etc.) but not and particular division of a child’s time. 

The law therefore states that parents should be involved in the lives of their children in a way that does not put the child/children at risk of suffering harm, and it will be assumed that there is no risk of harm unless there is some evidence before the court to suggest that the involvement of a parent would put the child at risk of suffering harm, whatever the form of the involvement.

Here at Bell & Buxton, we can offer advice and representation in relation to all family issues, including child arrangements on separation.  Should we be able to offer assistance then please do not hesitate to contact us.