Custody delay fears over new law

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New government plans to enshrine the rights of separated mothers and fathers over contact with their children in law will make little difference to the way courts already deal with cases, according to family law experts at a Sheffield firm.

A government consultation paper due to be published will suggest changing the law to ensure children have involvement with both parents in the event of a divorce. Ministers want the importance of children having an ongoing relationship with both parents to be acknowledged in law.

However, it is claimed the move could lead to custody delays similar to those seen in Australia following the introduction of such rights.

Martin Loxley, a partner and family law specialist at Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office, said courts and family law specialists already operated on the basis of the proposed presumption.

Mr Loxley said: “It is already a widely-held view that children benefit from having good relationships with both parents when a family separates.

“Child psychological studies back that up and courts do their best to ensure children see and spend time with both parents when safe to do so.”