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by on 19th Apr 2012


Lindsay HaliwellThe Law Society's family law committee have added to the criticism facing the government's plans to create a legal presumption for shared parenting.

The government is reported to be looking at various ways to ensure that most separating parents share residence of their children. The current rules mean that children usually live with one parent (most commonly the mother) and have varying degrees of contact with the non-resident parent to suit the family's circumstances and promote the children's best interests.

The new rules would create a presumption that children would spend half of their time with each parent, unless there was a good reason to have different arrangements. This would be the starting point, regardless of the nature of the parents' relationship or their individual circumstances.

This suggestion was considered by David Norgrove in his recent family justice review. At the moment, the Children Act 1989 provides that family courts must always treat the welfare of the child as their main consideration. Norgrove felt that the government's plans undermined that principle by focusing too much on parents' rights, rather than the child. He also thought it would mean that judges spent too much time deciding on precise amounts of time that the child should spend with each parent.

The latest criticism comes from Naomi Angell, co-chair of the Law Society's family law committee. She was reported in the Law Society Gazette as saying that the right to contact with parents should be viewed from the child's perspective.

The Family team at Coles Miller can help parents to focus on the needs of their children, by looking at the quality as well as the quantity of the time they spend with each of them. Our Family Mediator, Lindsay Halliwell, is able to work with parents to help them agree arrangements which suit their children, reducing strain on the whole family by avoiding stressful and expensive litigation wherever possible.

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.