In July 2010, Brian Binley MP for Northampton South tabled a Private Member’s Bill which calls for the making of shared parenting orders to enhance the welfare of a child. The Bill is due it’s second reading next year. We urge you to ask your MP to support it.
The purpose of the Bill is to provide for the making of shared parenting orders and to create a legal presumption that such orders enhance the welfare of the child unless certain exceptions apply and for connected purposes.
Brian said: “Shared parenting legislation is vitally important for all involved, especially the children.”
“Very often Court Orders are made without the knowledge of the importance of a father’s involvement and my bill will make sure that neither parent is shut out from a child’s life when sadly a relationship breaks down.”
“I don’t need to underline the importance of both parents in a child’s life. A significant proportion of the social problems in today’s society are a result of when a child doesn’t have the love and support of both parents.”
“I hope the Bill will go some way to help this which can only be good for society.”
The Bill is supported by 10 other MP’s and includes: Dr Therese Coffey, Douglas Carswell, Phillip Hollobone, Christopher Chope, Peter Bone, Mark Reckless, Caroline Dineage, Mark Pritchard, Harriett Baldwin and David Nuttall.
Here is the full text of the Bill:
SHARED PARENTING BILL A Bill to provide for the making of shared parenting orders under the Children Act 1989 and to create a presumption that such orders enhance the welfare of the child unless certain exceptions apply; amend the Children Act in relation to shared parenting orders; and for connected purposes. 1. Purpose of the Bill (1) The purpose of this Bill is to ensure that, wherever possible, children benefit from the full involvement of both parents in their upbringing. (2) Nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to conflict with or undermine in any way the paramountcy of the welfare of the child, as established under section 1 of the Children Act. 2. Shared parenting orders (1) Section 8 of the Children Act is amended as follows. (2) In section 8(1), after the words “In this Act—”, the following words are inserted:- “ “a shared parenting order” means an order settling that both parents have a full involvement in the upbringing of a child, particularly in respect of major long-term issues, and requiring that the child must spend a substantial and significant amount of time with both parents;”. (3) After section 8(2) the following subsection is inserted:- “(2A) When making a section 8 order, and subject to the considerations set out in sections 1(3) and 8A, the court must apply a presumption that it is in the best interests of the child for both of the child’s parents to have a full involvement in the upbringing of the child.”. (4) Before section 9(1) the following subsections are inserted:- “(A1) Where a shared parenting order is in force in relation to a child, the court may not make another section 8 order in relation to that child. (B1) A shared parenting order may only be made in relation to a child where no other section 8 order is in force in relation to that child, or where those orders are discharged before the shared parenting order comes into force.”. (5) The Schedule makes consequential amendments to the Children Act relating to shared parenting orders and hereby has effect. 3. Welfare of the child: definition (1) The Children Act is amended as follows. (2) After section 8 the following section is inserted: “8A Shared parenting orders: additional factors relating to the best interests of the child (1) In considering what is in the best interests of the child under section 8(2A), the court shall have regard to the fact that the child’s welfare is enhanced by:- (a) ensuring that children have the benefit of both of their parents having a meaningful involvement in their lives; (b) protecting children from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or domestic violence; (c) ensuring that children receive adequate and proper parenting to help them achieve their full potential; and (d) ensuring that both parents fulfil their duties, and meet their responsibilities, concerning the care, welfare and development of their children. (2) The principles underlying these objects are that (except when it is demonstrated that it is or would be contrary to a child’s best interests):- (a) children have the right to know and be cared for by both their parents, regardless of whether their parents are married, separated, have never married or have never lived together; (b) children have a right to spend time on a regular basis with, and communicate on a regular basis with, both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development (including grandparents as well as other relatives); (c) parents should jointly share duties and responsibilities concerning the care, welfare and development of their children; (d) each parent should be involved in the child’s daily routine and occasions and events that are of particular significance to the child; and (e) parents should agree about the future parenting of their children. 4. Shared parenting: time spent with both parents (1) After section 11 of the Children Act the following section is inserted. “11AA (1) When making a shared parenting order, the court must apply a presumption that the child should spend a substantial and significant amount of time with both parents. (2) When applying the presumption under subsection (1) the court must consider: (a) the factors set out in section 1(3); and (b) whether it would be reasonably practicable for the child to spend a substantial and significant amount of time with both parents. (3) In determining, for the purposes of subsections (1) and (2), whether it is reasonably practicable for a child to spend a substantial and significant time with each of his parents, the court must have regard to: (a) how far apart the parents live from each other; (b) the parents’ current and future capacity to ensure that the child spends a substantial and significant amount of time with both parents; and (c) such other matters as the court considers relevant. (4) Where the court, in making a shared parenting order, decides not to provide for the child to spend a substantial and significant amount of time with both parents, it must: (a) provide for the child to spend as much time as is practicable with both parents, given the considerations set out in subsection (2); and (b) have regard to the desirability of the child spending at least 25 per cent of his time, in any one calendar year, with each of his parents. 5. Major long-term issues (1) The Children Act is amended as follows. (2) After section 105(1), there is inserted:- “(1A) In this Act, “major long-term issues” means issues about the care, welfare and development of the child of a long-term nature and includes issues of that nature about: (a) the child’s education (both current and future); (b) the child’s religious and cultural upbringing; (c) the child’s health; and (d) changes to the child’s living arrangements that make it significantly more difficult for the child to spend time with a parent. A decision by a parent of a child to form a relationship with a new partner is not, of itself, a major long-term issue, within the meaning of this section, in relation to the child.”. 6. Interpretation In this Act— “Children Act” means the Children Act 1989 (c. 41); “major long-term issues” has the meaning given in section 5; and “shared parenting” is interpreted in accordance with section 2(2). 7. Expenses There shall be paid out of money provided by Parliament– (a) any expenditure incurred under or by virtue of this Act by the Secretary of State, and (b) any increase attributable to this Act in the sums payable under any other Act out of money so provided. 8. Extent, short title and commencement (1) This Act may be cited as the Shared Parenting Act 2010. (2) This Act shall come into force at the end of the period of six months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed. (3) This Act extends to England and Wales only. Schedule 1. The Children Act is amended as follows. 2. In section 9(5)(a), after the words “making a” the words “shared parenting,” are inserted. 3. In section 10: In subsection (4)(b), after the words “favour a” the words “shared parenting or” are inserted. In subsection (5), after the words “apply for a” the words “shared parenting” are inserted. In subsection (5)(c)(i), after the words “where a” the words “shared parenting or” 4. In section 11(5): after the word “Where” the words “a shared parenting order has been made with respect to a child, or” after the words “the residence” the words “shared parenting or” are inserted. 5. In section 13: In subsection (1), after the words “Where a” the words “shared parenting or”. In subsection (2), at the end insert the words “, or, where a shared parenting order has been made, by one of the parents”. In subsection (3), after the words “making a” the words “shared parenting or”