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/