Changes in Children's Law anticipated
Calls for draft legislation replacing the existing residence and contact orders with a new order The Child Arrangements Order to lessen the perception of winners and losers is now seriously being considered by law reformers.
This could well be a welcome departure from the present law that really is nothing more than a sophisticated re-branding of custody and access which has been prevailing for a long time in the law.
To have a new departure whereby arrangements are simply recorded clearly and precisely may well be beneficial.
The impact of all of this upon finances however yet remains to be seen. Of course in many cases something that starts out as a dispute over arrangements for the children soon has financial ramifications under divorce legislation.
It also appears likely that law reformers would like to see a mandatory requirement that parties attend mediation meetings first before being able to issue at Court. This is already in place with legally aided cases but may well be extended to privately funded cases as well.
There also appears to be a much needed and much welcomed attempt at strengthening enforcement sanctions for family orders in general. This would clearly give the parties more certainty as to where they were and that orders were going to be complied with.
There also appears to be a change on the CSA front with a debate as to whether or not it should be replaced by a new child maintenance service (COS). This may help rationalise bizarre situations whereby even if children are shared on a 50/50 basis one parent still has to pay CSA. The exact nature of the reform is yet to be seen.