Children Of Separated Parents To Have Legal Right To Contact With Mum AND Dad

03/02/2012 13:17 | Updated 22 May 2015
Children of separated parents to get legal right to see both parentsPA

A shake-up of the family justice system is to introduce new rules to make sure the children of separated parents get access and contact with both their mum AND dad.

Youngsters will have the legal right to maintain relationships with both parents, but jurisdiction to guarantee the right to equal access is unlikely to be approved by ministers. Children's Minister Tim Loughton says this would be impractical in most cases, and lead to longer delays in resolving disputes.

In a review last year the need for a legal statement of rights was rejected as it was deemed to run the risk of "confusion, misinterpretation and false expectations". However, Children's Minister Tim Loughton said the state has a duty to ensure dads were not "pushed out" of their children's lives, and that it would act to do so.

The Department for Education said the new rules will make it "much clearer that it is vital for children to have an ongoing relationship with both parents".

In its formal response to the review, which will be published on Monday, the Government will pledge an extra £10 million for mediation services for couples, in an attempt bid to reduce the number of divorce and separation cases going through the courts.

Tim Loughton said: "There is a familiar picture in the UK of parental separation leading to thousands of children losing meaningful contact with the non-resident parent, usually the father. It is right that we consider all the options to help ensure that children can continue to have an ongoing relationship with both their parents after separation.

"This issue affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of children and it would be negligent not to. It is also right that we continue to encourage fathers to take responsibility as equal parents and to be fully involved with their children from the outset."

Mr Loughton rejected calls from campaign groups such as Fathers 4 Justice for equal access, saying it was simply impractical in most cases and led to longer delays in resolving disputes.

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