The final report of the Family Justice Review, published last November, removed the recommendation for divorced fathers to have a legal right of access to their children. This was after the chair of the review, David Norgrove, made a study of Australia’s poor experience with a similar law. He said it would put too much pressure on judges to set out the exact amount of time that each divorced parent should spend with their children. Mr Norgrove affirmed that children’s interests and rights are paramount and this is the present guiding principle for UK family justice.
Mr Kenneth Clarke, Justice Secretary, responding to the Norgrove Family Justice Review last month, said the government would implement many of the review’s recommendations but would “Legislate to emphasise the importance of children having an ongoing relationship with both parents after divorce or separation, where that is safe and in the child’s best interests.”
The government’s reply says that “Children are entitled both to receive financial support from both parents and to maintain contact with both parents, where this is safe. It is difficult to conceive how withholding either of these things meets the welfare need of the child.”
A new ‘child’s arrangements order’ will be implemented to make practical arrangements for childrens’ upbringing.
Family Solicitor Heidi Cardoza comments “The government have said that they will ‘consider very carefully’ how legislation can be formulated to ensure that a meaningful relationship is not about equal division of time, but about the quality of parenting received by the child. Fathers4Justice and many other similar protest groups have welcomed this announcement as a massive step forward.”
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