In November 2011, a report was published called The Family
Justice Review. The report sets out recommendations aimed at
dealing with delays in the Family Law Courts and provides
guidelines to ensure children and families get the best possible
outcome in disputes. Earlier this month, the Government published
its response to the Family Justice Review and sets out how the
recommendations will be taken forward.
The Family Justice Review identified that it is important for
children to have and maintain a good relationship with both parents
if they want to, and so long as it is safe, after parents separate.
In recent years, shared parenting has become a more common
arrangement following separation and the Court's have
supported the idea that children should spend equal amounts of time
with both parents. However, the Family Justice Review states that
this approach may not be in the best interests of the children.
Instead, it was suggested that parents are given more information
when their children are born about their responsibilities as
parents which may help less disputes arise upon separation and
The Government confirmed that it would support many of the
suggestions made in the Family Justice Review apart from the views
given on shared parenting. The Government considers that the
importance of children maintaining an ongoing relationship with
both parents after divorce and separation cannot be overlooked and
it is difficult to see how this idea would not be in the
children's best interests.
In any dispute concerning children, the Court's
paramount consideration in accordance with the Children Act 1989,
is the welfare of the children of the family. The
Government's response states that Court should consider an
ongoing relationship with both parents as something that in most
cases will be extremely beneficial to a child's
It is a well established principle that children benefit from a
meaningful relationship with both parents following separation.
Only in very limited circumstances are Orders made that prevent
contact taking place between a child and parent, such Orders only
being made where the child is at risk of suffering serious
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