Earlier this year, Matt O'Connor created a petition to the British Prime Minister regarding "Equal Parenting" and "Opening Secret Family Courts".
On April 14 of this year, I signed this petition and the Prime Minister's response, received today, is set out below.
My thoughts at this time are completely unchanged and you already know what they are.........
Terry Lear - Toronto email@example.com
"The Quickest Way To End A War Is To Lose It" and "LOSING THE WAR IS NOT AN OPTION"
----- Original Message -----
From: "10 Downing Street"
To: "e-petition signatories"
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2007 12:30 PM
Subject: Government response to petition 'sharedparenting'
You signed a petition asking the Prime Minister to "Tackle Young Offending By Introducing A Presumption Of Shared Parenting And Opening Secret Family Courts."
The Prime Minister's Office has responded to that petition and you can view it here:
Prime Minister's Office: Petition information - http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/sharedparenting/
If you would like to opt out of receiving further mail on this or any other petitions you signed, please email:
23 October 2007
We received a petition asking:
"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Tackle Young Offending By Introducing A Presumption Of Shared Parenting And Opening Secret Family Courts."
Details of petition:
"Britain is in breakdown. Family breakdown. The secret family courts are creating a 'Generation X' of children. Children who are turning to crime. A lost generation growing up without the love and discipline of their fathers. We the undersigned call for the urgent introduction of mandatory mediation before couples go to court, a legal presumption of shared parenting combined with a fully transparent system of justice that can restore public confidence in the discredited family justice system."
Read the Government's response:
Thank you for signing the e-petition concerning family breakdown, the legal presumption of shared parenting, mediation and the opening of the 'secret' family courts.
The Government know from research that where parental separation is handled badly the effects can be damaging for children. Where parents decide that they should end their own relationship, the Government aims to help them come to an agreement about the future arrangements for their children in a way that does not expose children to ongoing parental conflict. Where it is safe, the Government believes it is usually in the child's best interests that both parents have a continued parenting role in the upbringing and development of the child.
Research has also found that it is the nature of contact with the non-resident parent rather than frequency of contact that is most likely to make a difference to a child's well-being. Regularity and consistency, the relationship between the child and non-resident parent, the degree to which the non-resident parent engages in authoritative parenting and the degree to which the child is caught up in parental conflict are key factors in a child's well-being.
Regarding an automatic presumption in law of equal contact/shared parenting for both parents, the Government believes that the current legal position is right - the welfare of the child must be paramount in any question relating to their upbringing. We intend to retain this principle set out in section 1 of the Children Act 1989. This requires that, when determining questions relating to the upbringing of a child, the court must give paramount consideration to the welfare of the child. A legal presumption of 'equal' parenting would be putting parents' rights before the child's welfare. As the law stands, the courts can, and sometimes do, make orders for 50:50 shared residence, if in their view, that is in the best interests of the child concerned.
With reference to mediation, the Government supports mediation in appropriate cases and is actively encouraging its use as an alternative to contested court cases. The Government does not, however, believe that mediation should be made compulsory but is instead committed to ensure that everyone involved in family proceedings, whether publicly funded or not, is aware of the advantages of mediation as a means of resolving family disputes.
You might like to know that parties applying for public funding under the Community Legal Service are already required to attend a meeting with a mediator to consider mediation. This requirement may be waived if there are special circumstances such as domestic violence or the case is very urgent.
In addition, the Government will make changes to court rules and application forms to facilitate referrals to family mediation where the court considers this would be beneficial. Also, when the Children and Adoption Act 2006 is fully implemented, the court will be able to direct parties to attend a meeting to learn about mediation in cases where it considers this is appropriate.
In 2006 the Government consulted widely on the principles of openness in family courts. Children who had gone through the family court process told us that it is important that their identities are not revealed, and their right to privacy and anonymity is maintained. Therefore, we announced that the media will not be allowed into family courts as of right, but, along with any others with an interest, will be able to apply to the court to attend. Instead, the Government announced it would focus on the information coming out of family courts, and would test the costs and benefits of providing a copy of the full transcript of the judgement in certain cases to the parties involved, retaining it for the children when old enough, and making it available anonymously online.
A second consultation closed in October this year which asked questions about whether the law should be changed so that disclosure of information about family law proceedings heard in private will be permitted primarily for the purpose for which the information is disclosed rather than what information can be disclosed or to whom it can be disclosed. The Government also consulted on whether the identity of a child should be protected after the end of proceedings, unless there is an order to the contrary on welfare grounds. The Government's response to this consultation will be published in due course.