Draft Children (Contact) and Adoption Bill published

    New powers will be offered to judges to improve contact
    arrangements for children and their parents following parental
    separation under proposals set out in a draft bill published today,
    writes Kirsty Brown.

    The draft bill also explains the process by which inter-country
    adoptions from individual countries may be suspended where there
    are concerns about child welfare.

    It follows the government’s consultation in January on the
    green paper ‘Parental Separation: Children’s Needs and
    Parents’ Responsibilities,’ which was launched in July
    and which set out proposals designed to improve the outcomes for
    children with separated parents.

    The draft Children (Contact) and Adoption Bill provides courts
    with more flexible powers to:


    • Refer a parent in a contact case to resources such as
    meetings with a counsellor, or parenting classes designed to deal
    with contact disputes.

    • Attach conditions to contact orders which may require
    attendance at such a meeting or class.

    And where an order has been breached, to:

    • Impose orders for unpaid work or curfews

    • Order financial compensation from one parent to another,
    where one parent’s breach of a contact order has caused
    financial loss to the other. 

    These powers are in addition to the already existing powers
    courts have to imprison or impose fines for contempt of court.

    Constitutional affairs secretary Lord Falconer said: “There
    are too many cases where the children suffer because they
    don’t maintain a relationship with their fathers after
    parental separation…The best interests of the child are at
    the heart of our proposals.”

    Draft Bill from http://www.dfes.gov.uk/childrensneeds/





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