Shared Parenting Information Group (SPIG) UK

- promoting responsible shared parenting after separation and divorce -

Regulations for protecting the interests of children after parental separation

(Draft proposed by SPIG)

GIVEN that all current research shows that the children who fare best after parental separation are those who maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents:

HER MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT FINDS AND DECLARES that it is the public policy of this country to assure minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage, and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing in order to effect this policy.

To this end:

Contact pending divorce

Pending final determination of residence and contact, in the absence of any proven child abuse, children shall have equal rights of contact with both parents.
That this right of contact shall be protected and enforceable by law.

That the courts shall set up special procedures to counsel parents and resolve any disputes regarding contact within three days of being notified.

Remaining in familiar surroundings

That during the first six months after parental separation it is important that the children remain in familiar surroundings among their friends and with regular and meaningful contact with both parents and all their relatives.
To this end no step shall be taken to remove the children from their schools and familiar surroundings without the agreement of both parents or the leave of the court.

That no step shall be taken which prejudices the outcome of any future residence or contact orders.
To this end no court may make an ex-parte order defining residence or contact.

Place of residence

The place of residence of a child shall be with the parent best able to ensure that the child maintains a meaningful relationship with the other parent and the wider family of grandparents and relatives.
To this end there shall be a probationary period during which each parent shall prove that they appreciate the need for regular and continuing contact and can make it work.

For this reason no residence order shall be a final order, and it may be reviewable at any time, particularly after interruption of contact.

Maximum involvement of parents

The court shall presume that the maximum involvement and co-operation of both parents regarding the physical, mental, moral and emotional well being of their child is in the best interests of the child.

Access to information

Access to records and information about a minor child, including, but not limited to, medical, dental, and school records, shall not be denied to a parent because such parent is not the child's primary residential parent.

Parenting plan

Parents are required to submit a parenting plan for the court's approval. If no plan is submitted, or the court does not approve a submitted plan, the court will formulate a plan addressing and resolving arrangements for the following : The court may order mediation in order to assist the parties in formulating or modifying such a plan.

Acknowledgements: Many of the proposals in this document are taken from established US legislation.

David Cannon
First published - 1992

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