The author of a key report into family law has spoken out to criticise recent Government proposals for a change in the law on access to children for fathers after divorce. David Norgrove's report which was published before Christmas, recommended that there be no change in the existing law.
The controversy concerns the issue of access to children for parents after a divorce hearing.
At present courts generally award custody to the mother in the majority of cases. Fathers are then left to organise access, which is typically for a set amount of time on a regular basis. This has been criticised as leaving many children growing up without a father.
The Government announced last week lans to change this law, so that there would be something akin to a presumption of equal parenting rights for both parents after a divorce.
Criticising the plans, Mr Norgrove said: "The independent Family Justice Review panel thoroughly considered the issue of shared parenting and concluded that the law should not be changed."
"The family justice system must deliver the best possible outcome for all the children and families who use it, because its decisions directly affect the lives and futures of all those involved, and have repercussions for society as a whole," he added.
"If the Government has decided to legislate, I regret that, and it will be vital to find words that avoid the difficulties encountered in Australia."
In his report, Mr Norgrove cited problems encountered in Australia, which has a similar legal provision to that proposed for here. There, children are frequently embroiled in long and complex disputes over the amount of time they should spend with each parent.
However, supporters of the changes cite the Scandinavian countries, which have a presumption of shared parenting and relatively few disputes, as an example of how the law could work in practice.
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