The purpose of this assignment is to explore how the ChildrenAct 1989 operates to ensure that the bond between parent and child is notweakened following the termination of a marriage.
Recent changes to the law inthis area which could pose an impact on the bond between parent and child willalso be discussed. In doing so, different sections of the Children Act will beapplied whilst drawing upon other sources of material to demonstrate furtherlearning. Divorce can have effects on a child’s attachment as well ason their development which in turn can affect the child’s well-being (Ongider,2013).
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However in ensuring that the bond between the parent and child is notweakened there are various sections of the Children’s Act which reinforcesthis. Firstly, the Children Act 1989 forms a part of the private law,amendments were made in relations to this sector of the law. The idea behindthis was to highlight the importance of contact between parent and childfollowing relationship breakdown (Bainham and Gilmore, 2013). Section 1 (1) ofthe Children Act 1989 indicates that the child’s welfare must always be thecourts paramount consideration (Children Act, 1989).
The different sections of the Children Act 1989 formulateshow parents should concentrate decisions on the child. When looking at whatparental responsibility is, it can be found under section 3 of the Children Act1989. Despite no definite definition, parental responsibility establishes thelink between the child and person(s) who have the authority to care for thechild or take decisions in regards to their upbringing (Bainham and Gilmore,2013). Parental responsibility does not permit any interference from eitherparents when the child is in the care of either parent, this was reinforced inthe case of A v A (Shared Residence) 2004 EWHC142, whereby it was stated thatparents should not interfere in matters which occur when not in care of thechild. Changes in the law have resulted in legal aid no longerbeing available however there are exemptions to this where cases of domesticviolence are present. This then results into litigants in person, howeverevidence has shown in some family cases whereby there were no representatives,they were unlikely to settle thus increasing the duration (Williams, 2011).
This can pose an impact on the bond between the parent and child. An example ofthis can include the child not being able to see one of their parents as theother may be withholding access to the child. A new development in the law has beenintroduced in which requires separated couples to attend a mediationinformation assessment meeting prior to issuing an application to court(Morris, 2013). In doing this, it is a way in which the separated couples canresolve their legal issues without the need of court as court should always bea last resort. This helps reinforce the bond between parent and child as thechild would be unaware that the parents are ‘fighting’ over them and thereforethere is a reluctance in the child feeling any disregard towards either parent.Within section 8(1) of the Children Act 1989, the concept ofresidence and contact orders have now been replaced with Child ArrangementOrders. Child Arrangements Order involves where and with whom a child shouldlive with and have contact with (Burton, 2015).
The idea behind the change interminology is to prevent a winner and loser mentality which has come to beattached with custody (White, 2008). In theory this should symbolise to thechild no better parent has won reassuring that the bond between parent andchild is not weakened as both parents will still be involved in the child’slife. However in regards to shared residence orders they can potentially lackpracticability in achieving a sense of equableness for the parent and child; itcan rarely work for the child’s benefit (Hale et al, 2009). This shows that inorder for the shared residence order to work effectively the parents must havea shared agreement and understanding. This can pose an impact on the bondbetween parent and child as it could potentially result in the child seeing oneof their parents less than what they had previously. Prohibited steps order which is contained under section 8 ofthe Children Act 1989, is an order which prevents anyone from undertaking aparticular step with a child without the court’s consent (Maclean et al, 2002).
Prohibited steps order is a way in which the child’s protection and welfare isensured (Norgrove, 2011). Furthermore, this is also another way in how theChildren Act 1989 promotes the bond between parent and child. For example in ascenario whereby a parent is planning on moving abroad with the child the otherparent can apply for an order to prohibit the parent from taking the childabroad, this was highlighted in the case of Payne v Payne. Specific issueorders is also contained under the Children Act 1989, this is defined as anorder which is made giving directions in regards to deciding a specificquestion which may and has arisen in terms of any aspect of parentalresponsibility (Children Act, 1989). Examples of this may include what religiona child should be brought in, the school they attend and so on. Before any application is made to the court there must beevidence which shows that the separated couple have attempted mediation.
Asstated previously when the court is making a decision in regards to a child,the child’s welfare must be its paramount consideration. Section 1(3) of theChildren Act 1989 provides the welfare checklist of factors which ought to betaken into consideration when making a decision. These factors are as follows: theascertainable wishes and feelings of the child, the physical, emotional and educationalneeds of the child, the likely effect on him as a result of any change in hiscircumstances, his age, sex, background and characteristics of the child whichthe court considers relevant, any harm the child has suffered or is at risk ofsuffering, the capability of each of the child’s parents as well as any otherperson in which the court consider the question to be relevant to in meetingthe child’s needs and finally the range of powers available to the court underthe Children Act 1989 in the proceedings in question (Children Act, 1989). Theprinciple of this is for the courts to consider each factor in regards to thechild’s best interest.
In conclusion it can be seen that the Children Act 1989 haveoperated to ensure that the bond between the parent and child is not weakened.Recent changes in the law can be seen working in favour of not weakening thebond between parent and child. In contrast to this, new developments in theChildren Act 1989 can be seen as posing a negative impact in regard to theparent and child’s bond. Ultimately, the idea behind the Children Act 1989 isto ensure that both parents are involved in the child’s life.