The new Children and Families Bill was announced last week in the Queen’s Speech at the state opening of parliament.
Measures included in the bill plan to allow parents to share parental leave, make inter-racial adoption easier and, crucially, to improve fathers’ access to their children after divorce.
A number of recommendations included in the final report of the Family Justice review, published in November 2011, will also be introduced by the government, including:
- requiring parents who are in dispute with each other to consider mediation as a means of settling their dispute instead of litigation and to make attendance at a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting a statutory prerequisite to starting court proceedings
- freeing up judicial time by allowing legal adviser to process uncontested divorce applications
Another important element of the Children and Families Bill is the introduction of legislation to ensure that children have a relationship with both parents after family separation in cases where this is in the child’s best interests and safe.