Family Justice Bill has first reading in House of Commons

April 2017        No: 2

This bill has had its first reading under the 10-minute rule, and is due to have a second reading on 12th May 2017.

The bill relates to Child Arrangements Orders. Such Orders are made by the Court, when separated parents cannot agree the arrangements for the care of their children.

The bill seeks to establish a presumption in favour of “shared parenting.” It was suggested that a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting, should be a key principle, when Courts determine arrangements for children. However, it was also made clear, that this would not mean an equal “50/50” time division, and does not mean shared care. Instead, the emphasis is on underlining the importance of both parents in a child’s life.

The bill also includes provisions for enforcing Orders.

There has been criticism that the Courts are slow to respond, and reluctant to penalise parents, when they breach the terms of Child Arrangements Orders. Breaches include not making children available to spend time with the other parent.

Introduction of a punishment of confiscating driving licences, and passports, has been suggested.