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Parental Involvement in Children’s Lives

Parental Involvement in Children’s Lives

For years, a small strike force of super heroes has stalked the family justice system to raise the profile of their campaign for the rights of parents who no longer live with their children.  Those disgruntled fathers (and sometimes mothers) came a step closer to achieving their goal on 22nd October when the Government brought in a change to the law about how children’s cases are dealt with by the Courts.  

Spiderman's Reward? 

For years, a small strike force of super heroes has stalked the family justice system to raise the profile of their campaign for the rights of parents who no longer live with their children. Those disgruntled fathers (and sometimes mothers) came a step closer to achieving their goal on 22nd October when the Government brought in a change to the law about how children’s cases are dealt with by the Courts.  

In disputes between parents about their children, the Court now assumes the child will benefit from the involvement of both parents in the child’s life.  Whilst it was widely thought this was the usual approach of most Courts, the importance of the law change is that this is now expressly written into the key legislation about children. 

The supermen and women had been hoping for a presumption of “equal parenting” or even a starting point that children’s time would be split equally between their parents after they separated.  However, a similar move towards equal parenting in Australia ended up with too many Court cases trying to decide what “equal parenting” meant. It is expressly stated that this change is not intended to impose any particular division of a child’s time between their parents. 

In the emotionally charged world of the family justice system, any change which is designed to clarify the law and how the Courts will apply it should be welcomed. Where parents are making arrangements for their children’s care after separation, it may encourage more sharing of the child’s care between the parents. However, in a difficult and acrimonious split, this change in the law might just be one more weapon for one parent to use against the other.

This change is certainly not going to impose “equal parenting” so Spiderman is probably not going to hang up his costume for good! 

About the author

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Simon Mortimer

Simon is a partner and leads the Family Law team at Burnetts.

Published: Friday 24th October 2014
Categorised: Cases involving children, Family Law

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