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Queen’s Speech: ‘Children Must Come First' In Family Law Reform

Lawyer Reacts To Proposals Included In Annual Address


Family law specialists at Irwin Mitchell have called on the Government to take a ‘child-first’ approach to proposed reforms of rules on adoption and access, which were announced as part of the Queen’s Speech today (May 9th).

Among the plans outlined in the annual tradition were changes as part of the Children and Families Bill, which would see legislation on the adoption process transformed with a view to finding youngsters a permanent home more quickly.

In addition, other proposals are set to be introduced to ensure that children have the opportunity to continue to have a relationship with both of their parents in the event that they do separate, provided that such a move is in the child’s best interests.

Alison Hawes, a Partner and family law expert at Irwin Mitchell, said that the ultimate aim of any changes in the area must be to ensure that children and their needs always come first.

She outlined: “The Queen’s Speech has essentially reiterated plans and proposals which have already been announced by the Government, but this does demonstrate that family law remains a hot topic at present.

“As we have said before on this issue, while many would welcome efforts to speed up the process it is vital that safeguarding and child welfare remains the priority. It is important that children are placed in the right environments to ensure that everything is done to make sure they are cared for in the right manner.”

On the issue of access, Alison added: “While each case is always considered in its own context, it is already common practice for judges to view contact with both parents as a hugely important issue where possible.

“Once again, the key is to put the welfare of children first, particularly as a change in legislation on this could actually have an adverse effect. The reason for this would be that parents may use laws to launch claims for access, which in turn may only lead to more emotional difficulties for the children caught in the middle.

“We have recommended for some time that another way to approach this issue could be to increase mediation and education services for parents, with a view to encouraging them to always make sure their children are the primary focus.”