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by on 10th May 2012


The QLindsay Haliwellueen yesterday delivered her Speech setting out the coalition government’s legislative plans aimed at assisting families and which is to be embodied within a Children and Families Bill.

Under the Bill, new mothers will be able to transfer some of their maternity leave entitlement to fathers. In addition, fathers will have greater access to their child/ren following a separation, provided it is “safe and in the child’s best interests”. This is to promote the need for both parents to have a relationship with their children when their own relationship breaks down but addresses the Family Justice Review’s concerns last year that a legal presumption of shared parenting could create an “unacceptable risk of damage to children”. It is thought, however, that each case will need to be assessed on an individual basis as is the case at the moment within court proceedings.

Further reforms provided by the Bill include plans to speed up the care and adoption process whereby courts will have a time limit of 6 months imposed on them within which a decision must be made as to whether a child needs to be taken into care. The emphasis is on minimising delays and therefore disruption to a child during the process. The bill will also offer parents more choice and control of support for children with special educational needs.

The Bill will also provide more powers to the Children's Commissioner for England to protect children's rights by taking over responsibilities from school inspector Ofsted. Commissioner Maggie Atkinson will be given more independence from ministers and powers to carry out assessments of the impact of Government policy on children.

If you would like legal advice upon a family issue following your separation then please contact Lindsay Halliwell on 01202 293226

This document is not intended to constitute and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice on any specific matter. No liability for the accuracy of the content of this document, or the consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author. If you seek further information, please contact Managing Partner Neil Andrews at Coles Miller Solicitors LLP.