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Barrister, KCH Chambers
Family lawyers have given a somewhat cautious welcome to the Children and Families Bill announced on the 9 May 2012 as part of the Queen's Speech to Parliament. The Bill, which is expected to be introduced in early 2013, adopts many of the reforms proposed by the government in its response to last November's Family Justice Review. Significant proposals include a six-month statutory time limit for care cases; greater emphasis on mediation and the establishment of a ‘shared parenting' principle to ensure children have a relationship with both parents after family separation. The government published a consultation paper Co-operative Parenting Following Family Separation: Proposed Legislation on the Involvement of Both Parents in a Child's Life 13 June 2012 containing proposals on precisely how legislation is to be framed to achieve these ends.
My concern, doubtless echoed of my fellow practitioners, is how such measures are to be resourced and implemented in a family justice system that is facing such profound budget cuts. More pressingly, however, I question whether the Bill is a missed opportunity for important reform and this article argues that what is needed is a rethink as to the labels we attach to orders governing where a child is to live.
To read the rest of this article, see July  Family Law journal.
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