Criticism of child access shake-up

A family justice system shake-up giving children legal rights to maintain relationships with both parents after separation has been criticised by the man who chaired a review of the rules. David Norgrove voiced “regret” after it emerged that his recommendation that such a statement risked “confusion” and “false expectations” had been rejected.

Ministers are formally expected to respond to his report on Monday. But a legal guarantee of equal access looks set to be ruled out.

In its formal response to the report, to be published on Monday, the government will pledge an extra £10m for mediation services in a bid to reduce the number of cases going to law.

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said the state had a duty to ensure that one parent was not “pushed out” of their offspring’s life and it would act accordingly.

When disputes are settled in court – presently around one in 10 – it will promise to find ways to ensure no parent is excluded unless they pose a safety or welfare risk.

A working group will examine potential changes to the Children’s Act 1989 to incorporate the rights.

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