Whilst agreement between parents should always be encouraged, Mark Smith from Stephens Scown LLP and a member of the Law Society Children’s Panel, said the proposals published by Ministers for consultation today could lead to more litigation, not less as well as increasing the emotional and financial cost to parents.
Mark said: “Since the Children Act 1989 came into force the best interests of the child have been of paramount importance to the courts, but these reforms could potentially undermine that approach.
“The risk is that by doing so the Government may inadvertently create a more adversarial climate around separation and divorce. In formulating these proposals, the Government has ignored the advice of David Norgrove (its own independent family advisor) who rejected such a proposal and highlighted the problems which have occurred in Australia when a similar approach was introduced.”
“Instead of floating ill thought out plans, Ministers should look at addressing the chronic underfunding of the family court system, which risks grinding to a halt.”
The Government argues that enshrining shared parenting in law will encourage more separated parents to resolve disputes out of court an agree contact arrangements that fully involve them both.
Mark is one of the top 500 lawyers in the country and is part of Stephens Scown’s award-winning family law team which is top ranked in the two key legal guides to the profession. He deals with all aspects of family work and has considerable experience in both private and public law children matters.
Stephens Scown has offices in Exeter, Truro and St Austell. For more information visit www.stephens-scown.co.uk
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