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Changes to Access Law for Divorced Fathers


Separated fathers will soon have the legal right to see their children under changes to contact which have recently been unveiled by the government. As of next year, fathers who may have been prevented from spending time with their children will be able to do so, as long as they do not present any harm to the youngsters.

The changes were announced by children’s minister Edward Timpson in a letter to MPs. In the letter the minister highlighted the importance of both parents being involved in the upbringing of a child, but also noted that the first and foremost consideration should always be the safety of children.

He said: “I know from my own experience practising as a family lawyer, that many separating couples feel the system is far too adversarial, with courts seen as creating ’winners’ and ’losers’. It is vital that both mothers and fathers feel confident that the court will consider fully the benefits of their involvement. We remain convinced that a change to the law is needed to help restore confidence in the family court system"

However, many in the legal profession have yet to be persuaded of the necessity of making changes to current contact arrangements. In a statement released earlier this month the Law Society insisted that “no legislation should create or point to a perception that there is an assumed parental right to substantially shared or equal time for both parents”.

The society said that legislation to promote shared parenting “is not needed”.
Commenting on the legislative changes family law solicitor at Hattons, Deb Choudhuri said: “While a rosy view of family life might suggest that both parents having equal input in the raising of their children is ideal, the reality of the situation is that being a biological parent to a child does not automatically make a mother or a father the best person to care for them. We agree with the Law Society, which warns of the dangers of peddling the idea that assumed parental right is the way forward. But this also has to be balanced by the fact that the child has a right to see the non-resident parent.

Our solicitors have dealt with many cases which have clearly demonstrated that one parent is more able to take good care of a child, and we fear that these rules could lead to children being made to continue contact with mothers and fathers demonstrating damaging behaviour. In his letter Edward Timpson said that fathers will still be prevented from seeing children if they present harm – how is harm being defined in this instance? Psychological damage is often as destructive as physical.”

Hattons Solicitors have extensive experience in all areas of family law, including financial settlements, cohabitation law and divorce. They also deal with cases involving domestic abuse, and the dissolution of civil partnerships. Find out more at



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