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Draft legislation on family justice published

Residence and contact orders to be replaced by child arrangements orders

The Government has published draft legislation on family justice for pre-legislative scrutiny.

The Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice are planning for these changes to form part of a larger package of children and families legislation in the near future.

The provisions would introduce changes to the operation of the family justice system, as recommended by the Family Justice Review and accepted by the Government in its response published in February 2012. Some of the changes involve amendments of primary legislation.

Private law
The explanatory notes of the draft legislation state that the changes made by the provisions are intended to promote the resolution of disputes away from court wherever possible, to ensure that decisions made by the family courts about the arrangements for children following parental divorce or separation reflect the benefit to the child of maintaining the ongoing involvement of both parents in a child's life, and to streamline the court process for divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. The main changes introduced by the provisions are:

Public law
The explanatory notes state that the changes made by the provisions are intended to ensure the more timely progression of care and supervision proceedings in the interests of children. The intention is to do this by providing a clear focus on the timetable for such proceedings, by ensuring that additional evidence is only requested where it is necessary to conclude the proceedings justly and by streamlining processes. The key elements are:

To read the draft legislation document, please click here.