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Charities welcome change in shared parenting clause

A group of children’s charities have welcomed the government’s recent decision to change the wording of a clause setting out shared parenting in the forthcoming Children and Families Bill.

Clause 11 of the Children and Families Bill had set out a presumption in favour of shared parenting. This stated that the courts should “presume, unless the contrary is shown, that involvement of that parent in the life of the child concerned will further the child’s welfare”.

However, the Shared Parenting Consortium, whose members include the NSPCC, claimed the phrasing could lead to some parents assuming they were entitled to 50-50 access to their children. The clause has now been amended to define the term involvement as meaning either direct or indirect contact and not necessarily a specific division of time.

The Coram Children’s Charity was a leading member of the Consortium. Director of International Programmes and Research Professor Carolyn Hamilton said:

“The message to separating parents is that neither mothers nor fathers are entitled to a legally binding presumption of shared access. Decision-making instead should rightly focus on determining the needs and best interests of each individual child, rather than focusing on the expectations of parents.”

She added:

“Ninety per cent of contact cases are settled out of court, so this amendment is crucial.  It will make it clear on the face of the Bill that the welfare of children is paramount.”

The Children and Families Bill completed its third reading in the House of Lords earlier this month and will now return to the House of Commons for further consideration.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Tristan says:

    More doublespeak from a group of organisations whose policy track record demonstrate a clear, underlying anti-father attitude.

  2. Robert Whiston says:

    i am always amazed that everyone parrots the same figures namely that “Ninety per cent of contact cases are settled out of court.” Has any one bothered to check the veracity of such claims ?
    If there are approx. 120,000 divorces per year and the court makes awards totally over 100,000 per year then where is the 10% and the 90% ?
    Isn’t it time we realised that “In 90% of cases contact and residence are settled BY the court.”

  3. Stitchedup says:

    “However, the Shared Parenting Consortium, whose members include the NSPCC, claimed the phrasing could lead to some parents assuming they were entitled to 50-50 access to their children.”

    Uhmm, yes, and what exactly is wrong with that???

    How the hell can limited, indirect contact with a child be considered compatible with the original spirit of clause 11??

    The NSPCC, another feminist dominated organisation that refuses to acknowledge that mothers are at least as likely to kill their children as fathers, they won’t even publish the figures for god sake!!! Content to let the myth prevail that it is only a male/father problem,… how is that in the interest of the child and how does it ensure adequate protection if all attention is focussed on fathers????

    • Stitchedup says:

      It should be presumed that 50/50 shared parenting is in the interest of the child… this should be the starting point unless hard evidence to the contrary is shown. Shared parenting consortium??? more like anti-shared parenting consortium!

      • Stitchedup says:

        To steal a phrase I believe came form Andrew – a principle of equality of sacrifice should apply, this might encourage people to work harder at relationships, learn to compromise and weather the storms that most long term relationships will endure… the end result being less children from broken homes.

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