Children & Families Bill – update

The ‘Children and Families Bill’ was debated in the House of Commons on 25 February 2013. A transcript of this Parliamentary debate can be found here:

Tim Loughton spoke passionately and with much insight about the very real problems many non-resident parents (usually fathers) face in trying to maintain meaningful contact with their children. He was particularly scathing of resident parents who use the ‘system’ to exclude non-resident parents, and of the ‘system’ itself which fails to deter or prevent such abhorrent behaviour.

Tim Loughton MP

Tim Loughton MP

In contrast, Alan Beith MP appeared completely ignorant of these realities. He maintained that no shared parenting amendment was necessary.

Alan Beith MP

Alan Beith MP

Beith suggested that the Paramountcy Principle would be undermined by the proposed shared parenting amendment.

Loughton made it very clear to Beith that the proposed amendment plainly specifies that the paramountcy principle remains ‘paramount’ and that contact would not be ordered by the court if there was a verifiable risk of harm to the child. This plain explanation did not seem to satisfy Beith.

Loughton recounted the fact that, of 3 million family breakdowns in one particular year, 1 million fathers lost all contact with their children. Plainly, this cannot be good for the welfare of those hapless children.

Loughton explained that the shared parenting amendment was designed to serve the Right of a child to be parented by both its parents.

In contract, Beith intimated that the amendment served the Rights of Parents rather than those of their children.

Beith suggested that the amendment would cause non-resident parents to expect 50% parenting time with their children.

Loughton made clear that the amendment was qualitative rather than quantitative in its design, and that it was plainly non-prescriptive regarding parenting time.

Beith stated that the popular press was touting the idea of 50/50 time, and that non-resident parents would therefore arrive at the same understanding.

Loughton stated that the misrepresentation of the amendment by the popular press would not prevent the Government from going ahead in the interests of child welfare.

As the new legislation is enacted, the press and the general public will need to be educated as to exactly what it entails and what parenting arrangements can be expected by separating parents.

Overall, I’d say Loughton won the argument.

Beith’s position remains very closely wedded to that of the Law Society.

It is not too difficult to speculate as to why the Law Society favours the current status quo and why it is against shared parenting legislation. Plainly, there are considerable vested financial interests in the continuation of non-resident parents going to court to re-establish or enforce contact with their children.

Precisely why Sir Alan Beith follows the Law Society’s stance so closely requires a little more fanciful speculation, perhaps concerning the methodology and efficacy of lobbying by special interest groups!

Bruno D’Itri



5 thoughts on “Children & Families Bill – update

  1. The debate etc is a waste of time because no matter what laws are passed, the judges retain the power to exclude parents from their children’s lives by “non molestation orders” forbidding all contact face to face , by email ,facebook,telephone or post etc.They combine this with injunctions that threaten these parents with prison if they talk about their case to anybody or reveal the existence of the injunction itself so that few people if any know who the “victims” of these orders are.

    • Hello forcedadoption.

      Thank you for your comment.

      There are indeed many problems with the family justice system, as you touch upon.

      However, please allow me respectfully to disagree with your view that the current debate is a waste of time.

      Over recent years, we HAVE succeeded in persuading many politicians of the merits of Shared Parenting.

      Politicians make the law, and the judiciary then has to apply that law.

      Campaigning for Human Rights, Fairness and Justice is always very worthwhile. If there hadn’t been such campaigners throughout history, we’d still be living in the Middle Ages!

      My personal interest concerns Relocation Law. I and others campaigned hard for a reappraisal of Payne v Payne (2001). That reappraisal occured in 2011.
      WE WON!

      Best regards
      Bruno D’Itri

  2. I find this debate so fascinating and I am so glad all these issues are finally being addressed, after all we are in the 21st century where families are not longer the traditional nuclear family. I am passionate about fathers rights and contact as well as PR being made easier to gain for fathers, but please excuse what may seem a stupid question but I am currently trying to gather together an up to date status on the current laws and what stages the reforms are in regarding shared parenting etc for my dissertation. Am I correct in understanding the concept of shared parenting has been raised in the Children and Families Bill which is likely to be law in April 2014?

    • Hello Krista.

      Thank you very much for your comment.

      Your views concerning the equal importance of both parents in the life of their child is perfectly in tune with the current Zeitgeist.

      Those in favour of a change in the law are very happy to use the term “shared parenting”, as it accurately reflects the desired goal: both parents ‘sharing’ in the ‘parenting’ of their children.

      Those opposed to any change in the law object to the term “shared parenting”. They prefer to maintain the legal status quo, which states that “the best interests of the child” must be served. However, they seem quite oblivious to the reality that, in most cases of separation and divorce, the best interests of a child are served by facilitating a shared parenting regime.

      Sadly, those opposed to “shared parenting” appear to have succeeded in diluting the Children and Families Bill. The term “shared parenting” has been removed from the Bill. Even the explicit statement that both parents should be permitted to maintain a meaningful relationship with their child has been avoided.

      There are huge vested interests at stake. Family law revenues run into the many millions. History teaches us that those who stand to lose will fight tooth and nail to preserve their advantage. The Law Society is extremely powerful and has friends in both Houses of Parliament.

      Only when a “tipping point” is reached, and the general public is brought fully on board, will Parliament have no option but to modernize family law to reflect the genuine rights and needs both of children and of their divorced parents.

  3. The real problem is being ignored by our so called representatives! Judges make” non molestation orders” and “no contact orders” against parents who have never committed a crime against their children or any other children! These judges should themselve be jailed for crushing parents and depriving them of their human rights purely out of dislike for those who are outspoken .Baby P’s mother was given contact with her surviving children in prison and is out now with a false name enjoying life ! Many other parents who have committed no crime except saying hello,waving at or even sending a birthday card have been JAILED for their sins ! The only one I can name without going to jail myself is Vicky Haig already named in parliament after receiving 3 years jail for greeting her daughter at a chance meeting in the forecourt of a petrol station ! She is now again on trial because she took a birthday card written by the two children of her partner to the local vicar to be given to her daughter ! She wrote nothing on it and did not give it a second thought until arrested. !
    Sad isn’t it ??????

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