UK Family Law Reform

Free information index

The Family Justice System protects children from harm and helps to resolve disputes between parents who cannot agree on how to look after their children after family separation.

Following an independent review of the Family Justice System in 2010-11, the Government is making a number of changes across the system, in relation both to public and private law. These are described in detail in the Government’s response to the review, which was published in February 2012 and which accepted the majority of the review’s recommendations. More information about the Family Justice Review and the Government’s response is available on the family justice review page.

In its response to the review, the Government committed to introduce new legislation which emphasises the importance of children having an ongoing relationship with both of their parents following family separation, when it is in the child’s interests. While most parents are able to make arrangements between themselves for their children when they separate, some parents turn to the courts to resolve disputes.

In some cases, the dispute between parents is so deep-rooted that they lose sight of their child’s needs. In these cases, the Government wants to send a clear signal that both parents remain responsible for the care of their children when families separate.

The Government plans to legislate in this area as set out in the Queen’s speech.

Letter to Sir Alan Beith

Shared parenting clause

Explanatory notes and process diagram

Consultation on shared parenting and enforcement

A public consultation on the proposed shared parenting provisions, and provisions relating to the enforcement of court orders in the family courts, ran from 13 June to 5 September 2012. The consultation attracted 214 responses from a wide range of interested parties.

The Government considered all responses which it received and has concluded that a clear ‘presumption’ that both parents should be involved in a child’s life is the most appropriate way to achieve the Government’s aims in this area.

The Government’s full response to the consultation which includes an analysis of the responses received, is now available.

The Government’s response to the enforcement elements of the consultation was published on 5 February 2013.

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