Financial & Legal News

Landmark Children and Families Act welcomed by Pearson Childcare expert

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The new Children and Families Act, which gives greater protection to vulnerable children, supports the children of separating parents and helps parents balance work and family life, has been welcome by Pearson Solicitor, Stacy Fox.

The Act also ensures vital changes to the adoption system can be put into practice.

“Certain Cases unfortunately end on a sad note and the child/children cannot return to their parents care or remain in their birth family.  If the court agrees that the child should be placed for adoption it is in the child’s best interest for that to happen as soon as possible, so that the child can start to build relationships and bond with their new family,” said Stacy

“These changes to the adoption system mean that this can potentially happen, which can only be a good thing for the many children in the care system waiting for a permanent home.”

Only 69% of children were placed with adopters within 12 months of the court’s decision as of 31/3/13; this is a very lengthy period of time, but worryingly it means that 31% were not placed at all within 12 months.

The Act proposes to extend the age that Looked After Children can remain with placed with faster carers.

“Increasing the age that children can remain with foster families to 21 years old is a great step.  Although after-care services are provided to looked-after children between the ages of 18 and 21 often these young vulnerable adults have to leave their homes at 18 years old which can have a detrimental affect on them.”

Private family law proceedings have also been considered in the Act, with proposed changes to maternity / paternity leave.

“The proposal that parents can share parental leave is a huge breakthrough and will be welcomed by many families and fathers in particular.  This law is highlighting the equal rights that mothers and fathers have,” she added.

The measures, made law at the end of March, will come into force in the coming months.  The majority of provisions in the Children and Families Act will come into force on April 22nd, at the same time as the launch of the new single family court.

As well as adoption and family friendly measures, the new act also makes way for mediation instead of court action whenever possible.

A Mediation Assessment Information Meeting (MIAM) must be attended in advance of the issue of private family law proceedings, to encourage parents to try and resolve their issues without the need for court proceedings.   The Act also encourages parents to attend Separated Parent Information Programmes (SPIPs) to gleam an understanding of the other parents’ point of view.  These courses are attended by both mums and dads.  You do not attend a meeting with your child’s other parent.

“The expectation that parents attend SPIPs and the introduction of child arrangement orders to replace Residence and Contact orders are all there to encourage parents to work together when they separate and ensure their child has a good quality relationship with both parents,” said Stacy.

“10% of fathers do not have contact and 51% of those who do say it is not regular.  Statistics for non-resident mothers are not known and any attempt to improve this is welcome.”

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

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