Putting child welfare first – amends made to ‘shared parenting’ clause. By guest blogger Hayley Crossman.

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Today has seen an amendment to clause 11 for the Children and Families Bill approved by the House of Lords and this has been reported by Family Law Week: http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed127361

The controversial clause 11 stated that courts should “presume, unless the contrary is shown, that involvement of that parent in the life of the child concerned will further the child’s welfare” which had lead to some discourse amongst charities and professionals and many parents.  The main concern was that this presumption could undermine the requirement for the welfare of the child to be the court’s paramount consideration as contained in Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 and that parents who are looking to parent separately, outside of a relationship, may assume that they have a legal ‘entitlement’ to equally share residence or parenting of the children involved.The Shared parenting consortium which includes a number of well known children’s charities such as NSPCC and the lead charity Coram Children’s Legal Centre (CCLC) has been campaigning for the term ‘involvement’ to be clarified as meaning direct and indirect contact with no stipulated division of time between the parents.

The Bill will now move from the Third reading in the House of Lords back to the House of Commons in order for this amendment to be considered.

It has been interesting to follow this Bill from start to finish.  I was lucky enough to work on the Bill at the Department for Education and was able to hear firsthand the debates surrounding this clause. More information on this Bill and its progression through to Royal Assent can be followed on the Parliament website at http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2012-13/childrenandfamilies.html

Photo by Scott Ableman via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

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