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Entries in children's minister (2)


English Children's Minister defends shared parenting plans

Tim LoughtonFollowing some letters to the Times newspaper criticising the Westminster Government's plans for shared parenting, Children's Minister Tim Loughton wrote in defence of the forthcoming English legislation:

Sir, Our proposals for shared parenting categorically do not create any right of artificial equality of time with children post-divorce (letter, June 13). The paramount principle that children’s interests and safety must always come first will remain firmly in place. But there is no avoiding the fact that all the evidence is that children do better with both parents as fully involved in their lives as possible.

 The state cannot create happy families, so where disputes end up in court the law must be clearer that children should have an ongoing relationship with both parents after separation wherever possible. Current legislation is not explicit on this point which means that intractable arguments end up in court, with too many children used as pawns in a “winner takes all” game — creating a perception that the courts are biased against one parent, usually the father.

Our proposals will send a clear message that both parents have a joint responsibility to bring up their children, unless there is a welfare reason not to. We are toughening up enforcement of any breaches of court orders, with clear consequences for trying to “play the system” to freeze the non-resident parent out of their children’s lives. This will mean more parents will resolve their disputes out of court, instead of getting dragged into protracted litigation, where the only losers are their own sons and daughters.

Tim Loughton
Children’s Minister


Society should make fathers more welcome

Aileen Campbell, Scotland's minister for children and young people, commented on Father's Day that many fathers feel unwelcome by schools and doctors’ surgeries.

In the run-up to a new national parenting strategy being unveiled in the autumn, Ms Campbell said fathers are often “cut out of the picture”.

She said: “Dads being fully involved in their children’s lives has all sorts of positive benefits for the wider family and community. However, we need to go further to ensure that as a society we truly value and support dads in the role that they play.

She continued: “As we celebrate Father’s Day, it’s a good time to reflect on what all this means for dads, because sometimes when we talk about parents, we tend to mean mums, and cut dads out of the picture. How does it feel to be a father in Scotland today?

“Many will ponder how different their experience is to that of their own fathers. Dads today tend to be a lot more hands on and there is a greater expectation they will be more actively involved in all aspects of their children’s lives.

FNF Scotland is submitting ideas about how the parenting strategy can also apply to separated parents.