The new coalition government plans to finally address the long-awaited need for changes in the family law, so that parents are treated more fairly after separation or divorce. Outlined in the new coalition’s programme is a wide range of policies and the emphasis on family and children is an encouraging sign.
Shared parenting has long been campaigned for and in the programme released on 20th May 2010, it states “We will encourage shared parenting from the earliest stages of pregnancy – including the promotion of a system of flexible parental leave.” This will be a welcome message for fathers’ rights groups such as New Fathers For Justice and Real Fathers For Justice, that have campaigned for some time on this important issue.
The report goes on to state that the coalition government “will conduct a comprehensive review of family law in order to increase the use of mediation when couples do break up, and to look at how best to provide greater access rights to non-resident parents and grandparents.” Lee Smith from the non-profit group fathers’ Rights, states that “at present the legislation fails many fathers going through the court process and it is hoped that this new government will put children’s needs first and recognise that children deserve both parents in their life and deserve shared parenting after break-up or divorce”.
Mike Kelly, spokesman for Real Fathers For Justice says that “This document is definitely a step in the right direct, after 5 years of RFFJ protest and 3 years of talking to opposition MPs, it’s pleasing to see they have listened to the talks and have looked at the reasons behind the protests”
“The campaign is far from over yet, we must continue to push for a legal presumption of Shared Parenting”
“There is a long way to go before parents have a level playing field when they divorce or separate, the government must remove the ‘winner takes all’ system where false allegations are taken as fact and where contact orders are ignored with impunity”
“The system is beset by delay, incompetence and mismanagement, costs can spiral and support is non-existent”
“Family law judges and professionals should be held to account for their mistakes, proceedings must be open and judgements transparent”
There is an ever-growing movement to change legislation and hopefully promises will be kept to review and change the laws in Winter 2011.