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Family Law

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22 JAN 2013

Achieving child-centred reform in private law proceedings

Brian Cantwell

Children and Families Consultation Group:

The private law landscape is shifting. Legal aid for separated parents in dispute will all but disappear in April 2013. The Government proposes to remove key S8 Orders (Residence and Contact) from CA89.

Brian Cantwell asserts that, despite a wealth of relevant research and a series of reviews over the years, there has been a chronic failure to develop a coherent and well-planned approach towards meeting the best interests of the children of separated parents in conflict.

Drawing on thirty years' experience in the field. Cantwell puts forward seven 'foundation stones', that he believes should form the basis of any new framework for private law claiming to be child-centred.

Stressing the importance of working to the principles and letter of the law, he also argues for a more sophisticated understanding of the nature of post-separation parental conflict - and the impact of that conflict on the children concerned. These imperatives are rooted in different knowledge bases, legal and therapeutic. Accordingly, the article points up the value of developing a shared language amongst the professionals who practice in this critical area of child welfare.

The full version of this article appears in the February 2013 issue of Family Law.


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