‘Presumption of Parental Involvement – A Change in the Law”
On 22 October 2014 Section 11 of the Children and Families Act 2014 came into force and will apply to all cases started on or after that date.
The effect of the coming into force of this provision means that, in addition to the child’s welfare being the Court’s paramount consideration the Court will, when considering whether or not to make an order in relation to a child (or vary an existing order), presume, unless the contrary is shown, that involvement of a parent in the life of the child concerned, will further the child’s welfare.
Parliament did consider whether the law should go as far as to make a presumption that the time that a child spends with each of his parents should be equal but that was ruled out. Instead “involvement” is defined as either direct or indirect but not any particular division of a child’s time.
The Ministry of Justice has emphasised that ‘parental involvement’ is not about giving parents new rights or the 50/50 division of children’s time, but is about ‘achieving a culture change by making clearer the Court’s approach to these issues’. They hope that the change will encourage parents to be more focused on the children’s needs following separation and the role that they each play in the child’s life. It won’t change the fact that the Courts’ paramount concern will be ‘the welfare of the child’.
Justice as Minister Simon Hughes said “we have made bold reforms so that the welfare of children is at the heart of the family justice system, and there can be no doubt that parents play a very important role in every child’s life. Following break-up of relationships we are encouraging all parents to focus on the needs of the child rather than what they want for themselves”.
“No parent should be excluded from their child’s life for no good reason. This change in the law is not about giving parents new ‘rights’, but makes clear to parents and everybody else that the Family Courts will presume that each parent will play a role in the future life of their child”.
Should you require any advice in relation to this issue please do not hesitate to contact Demelza Butler on 01473 343 908.