Hartnell Chanot & Partners has welcomed the government’s consultation, announced yesterday, on plans to ensure that children continue to see both parents after a separation or divorce.
The proposed changes to the Children Act 1989 will seek to ensure that both parents’ roles are recognised and that there is no discrimination between parents. The proposals do not recommend an equal sharing of time after parents’ separation but place emphasis on the quality of the time that each parent has with the children, and that unless there are real safety or welfare concerns, the usual expectation will be that the children can spend quality time and retain a good relationship with both parents.
The consultation will also look at how to toughen sanctions to enforce breaches of court orders regarding care arrangements.
Commenting on the consultation Norman Hartnell, Director said: “We are pleased to see that the government is looking at ways to improve the system in the best interests of children. Many of our clients face child contact issues and it is extremely distressing for both the parent and the child when one parent is unreasonably denied access to their own children. Provision has to be made of course to protect children from harm where that has occurred, and that will not change. We hope however that the emphasis on purely punitive sanctions will give way to greater encouragement to solve problems, to enable parents who are in the midst of their own emotional turmoil to place their children’s needs uppermost in their minds.”
He added: “In dealing with such difficult situations the children’s interests need to be put at the centre of any arrangements. This is our fundamental approach and it would appear that the government is taking the same direction with this consultation.”
The consultation closes on Wednesday 5 September and can be accessed here.