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Parental involvement provision comes into effect on 22nd October

‘Family courts will presume that each parent will play a role in the life of their child’

The importance of children having relationships with each parent following family breakdown will be reinforced by a new law taking effect next week, Family Justice minister Simon Hughes has said.

The parental involvement provision in section 11 of the Children and Families Act 2014 will come into force on 22 October and will apply to cases started on or after that date. It will not apply to cases already going through the courts prior to 22 October.

The Ministry of Justice has been at pains to emphasise that the parental involvement provision is not about giving parents new 'rights' or the 50/50 division of children's time but about 'achieving a culture change by making clearer the court's approach to these issues'.

The change is intended to encourage parents to be more focused on children's needs following separation and the role they each play in the child's life. The new law will require family courts to presume that each parent's involvement in the child's life will further their welfare – where it is safe. However the needs of the child will always remain the paramount priority of the courts.

Justice Minister Simon Hughes said:

"We have made bold reforms so that the welfare of children is at the heart of the family justice system, and there can be no doubt that parents play a very important role in every child's life. Following break up of relationships we are encouraging all parents to focus on the needs of the child rather than what they want for themselves. 

"No parent should be excluded from their child's life for no good reason. This change in the law is not about giving parents new 'rights' but makes clear to parents and everybody else that the family courts will presume that each parent will play a role in the future life of their child."

Children and Families Minister, Edward Timpson:

"Having spent almost ten years as a family barrister, I know nothing is more important than taking the time to listen to children and making sure their voices are heard loud and clear.

"This is a brand new system which puts the needs of children first, protects families from harmful and stressful battles in the courtroom and gives them greater support."

19/10/14