The Children’s Act 1989 - Thirty Years On

Looking at what remains to be achieved, with a focus on the legal sector, thirty years on from The Children’s Act 1989.

It is thirty years on from the 1989 Children’s Act and the time is right for assessment as to the impact this has had on children, families and their welfare. There have been a raft of articles and reflections on the impact and effectiveness of this legislation. We look at a selection and the relevance to family law and dispute resolution.

The interesting article (referenced below) from the Guardian, published last Wednesday 13th 2019 looked at how this crucial legislation has been successful in putting children’s and families needs first.

It includes views from parents, legal experts, social workers and politicians. Has it changed family life for the better?

The views of Andrew McFarlane, president of the family division in the high court, are also included. We note with interest that despite the statement that the principles and aims of The Children’s Act remain relevant and sound, there is significant need for innovation when it comes to dispute resolution.

Hence, despite the comments indicating: “The Children Act is a highly respected piece of legislation that has stood the test of time” and furthermore: “There is no clamour, not even a whisper, that the basic concepts of child law now need further reform” the need for change in the way family law issues are resolved is considered paramount.

Andrew McFarlane states that: “Disputed resolution following parental separation often falls short or, worse, compounds the potential for harm. This, in my view, demonstrates the fact that the law can only go so far in resolving what are essentially relationship difficulties within families”.

Sensitivity and understanding necessary to create a solution acceptable to all and mindful of the voice of the child or children is essential. Mediation aims to engender such an environment, where the greatest potential for settlements which promote cooperation and positive, amicable futures are encouraged.

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