New law to ensure both parents will play a role in a child’s life after separation article banner image

A new law that will presume that both parents will play a role in the life of their child should help to ensure that a child’s welfare continues to be at the heart of the legal system, according to one of the region’s leading family lawyers.

Mother and daughter

The new law, which comes into force today (22 October 2014), aims to encourage parents to be more focussed on their children’s needs following separation and clarify the court’s approach. What it does not do is give parents new “rights” or a 50/50 division of a child’s time.

The Family Court will be required to presume each parent’s involvement in a child’s life will promote the child’s welfare when it is safe to do so. The child’s welfare will remain the court’s paramount consideration

Mark Smith, a partner and specialist in children’s law at Stephens Scown LLP said: “In the past there may have been a feeling that the parent with whom the child lives is seen as more important. This law should stop that and ensure that both parents are seen to be equally important to the child’s welfare.

“It does not mean that parents will automatically get equal time with their children and will still be decided by the Family Court on a case by case basis. However, the starting point will now be that both parents should play a role unless there are safety concerns.”

The new law will apply to all new cases from today.

Stephens Scown’s family law team is considered to be the best in Devon and Cornwall, receiving top rankings by the independent guides to the law Legal 500 and Chambers. The team also beat competition from across the UK to be named Family Law and Private Client Team of the Year at the British Legal Awards 2013.