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January 9, 2012

Charles Russell: Divorced parents need better rights to see children

By Spear's

London, 09 January 2012 – Top family law firm Charles Russell says that more needs to be done to provide divorced parents with legal rights to see their children

London, 09 January 2012 – Top family law firm Charles Russell says that more needs to be done to provide divorced parents with legal rights to see their children.
Although plans are currently being drawn up by ministers to address this pressing matter (The Family Justice Review) this needs to be at the top of the Government’s agenda. The Coalition is expected to announce further plans later this month, which still require Cabinet approval, as part of the official response to David Norgrove’s Family Justice Review. 

Miranda Fisher, family partner at Charles Russell, said: “It is the responsibility of both parents to raise their children and the right of every child to have a relationship with both their parents. The proposed changes to the law in the Family Justice Review will help to give every child that chance.

“Society is changing; increasingly fathers play a hands-on role in the care of their children and after a separation both parents should quite properly expect to continue to be fully involved in their children’s care.  In recent years, applications to the court by fathers for contact with children have increased, and there has been a trend towards shared residence orders, rather than the mother retaining residence of the children in every case.  The courts have shown an increased willingness to make such orders even where time between parents is not shared equally and parents do not live very near each other.

“The introduction of parenting agreements at the point of separation and divorce, ensuring a shared child care arrangement as part of the process, will help to focus parents and the court on ensuring that the rights of children to maintain meaningful relationships with both parents, as set out in the UN convention on the rights of the child are adequately supported and enforced.  The emphasis on the role of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, in the Family Justice Review, and keeping parents and children out of the adversarial court process altogether, is also an important step forward.”

The Family Justice Review panel was appointed to review the whole of the family justice system in England and Wales, looking at all aspects of the system from court decisions on taking children into care, to disputes over contact with children when parents divorce. It was commissioned by the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Education, and the Welsh Government.

The family justice system is a network of organisations and individuals from many different professions all working co-operatively and collaboratively so that the system achieves its aims. Their aim is to improve the system so that it is quicker, simpler, more cost-effective and fairer whilst continuing to protect children and vulnerable adults from risk of harm. 

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