News In Depth
More rights for divorced fathers
Fathers look set to be given additional rights to see their children after family break-up or divorce, as long as it is in the child's best interests, under reforms set out in the Queen's Speech.
Last year's family justice review warned against introducing a legal presumption of shared parenting, warning it could create an "unacceptable risk of damage to children".
But today's speech announced a consultation on legal options to strengthen the law in England and Wales to ensure that, "where it is safe and in the child's best interests", both parents are able to have a relationship with their sons and daughters after they split up.
The Children and Families Bill also sets out plans to speed up adoption and care proceedings and give more support to disabled children.
The Bill will create a six-month time limit for family courts in England and Wales to reach decisions on whether children should be taken into care and will require the court to take into account the impact of delays on the child.
It will stop local authorities in England from delaying adoptions in the hope of finding a perfect racial match for the child, if there are couples waiting to adopt.
In most cases, the child's ethnic background and that of the prospective adopters should come second to efforts to place the child swiftly in a permanent home, the Bill says. The Government will discuss with Welsh ministers whether the change should be extended to Wales.
The Bill also aims to give families more choice and control over support for children with special educational needs (SEN).
The system of SEN statements for children with disabilities and learning difficulties will be replaced in England from 2014 by a simpler assessment process providing statutory protection up to the age of 25 for those who go into further education, rather than it being cut off at 16.
Parents and young people will be given the right to a personal budget to fund their support, to strengthen their power to make choices about what they need.
Local authorities and health services will be required to plan and commission services jointly for children, young people and families.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Bill would "put families front and centre of our national life, with unprecedented support for parents and the biggest reform for 30 years of support for children with special needs or disabilities".
The Bill will also give more powers to the Children's Commissioner for England to protect children's rights, taking over responsibilities from school inspector Ofsted.
Commissioner Maggie Atkinson will be given more independence from ministers and powers to carry out assessments of the impact of Government policy on children.
what do you think?
It follows that a country which no longer has the ability produce a responsible government also is longer able to produce responsible parents ! or should that be the other way round ?
Either way, spot on.
About time. Fathers do get a raw deal. My son was lucky and won custody of his children some 22 years ago but he was one of the many few. Before I get some nasty comments... I have to tell you ....I am a grand mother!!!!! Its about time that men were recognised as responsible parents too.
good intentions dont always work out the way we want the to especially if we rush to place children without taking into account their ethnicity, this could only work if the child is no older than 1/2 years .
I agree - fathers should have rights, but how on Earth did we get here? It's shocking that outside agencies have to be involved at all really and that people are still having kids with no idea of how to look after them. Some even separate before the poor kid's born! Why would you plan a child in such an unstable situation?! As for the SEN thing, bring it, but beware. We have one teenage pupil whose parents deliberately have never, since he's been in secondary school (5 years now!) changed him in the morning before school (poor chap's incontinent). This is because it's unpleasant and our classroom assistants will just do it. My fear that if the likes of these have control over such budgets, it'll all go on beer and fags in some cases...
Yes, and another thing, how patronising and insulting to have the "government" tell you whether or not you can have rights when it comes to your kids. Am I too outraged for a childless monster?