Election Round-Up: the main parties’ proposed changes to family law
Resolution, the family law association, is calling on the political parties to reform family law. The association, which is made up of over 6500 family lawyers launched its manifesto in London recently and Simon Hughes a Liberal Democrat attended the launch – because family law is on the election agenda for all the parties.
Resolution made six recommendations. These included: safeguards for vulnerable people who are separating, encouraging alternative dispute settlements, the introduction of a ‘parents’ charter’ to help parents understand their responsibilities on separation, better information for people about how their finances will be affected by separation, blame free divorces, and greater legal protection for cohabiting couples.
All the main political parties have unveiled family law measures in their manifestos. The Labour Party has pledged to support children going into care with other family members – although the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) points out that “kinship carers” are not eligible for the same support as adopters or foster carers. Those who adopt or foster blood relations’ children are also penalised by the benefits rules.
The Conservative Party, meanwhile, has promised to introduce regional adoption agencies and to improve adoption services for the 90,000 children in the UK care system, whilst the Liberal Democrats have promised to introduce a national adoption register to act as point of contact for potential adopters. However BAAF points out that neither of these initiatives will help children from ethnic backgrounds, older children, those with disabilities, and those with siblings.
The Tories have also promised to tighten up laws preventing forced marriage and along with Labour they have promised to clamp down on domestic violence against women. The Tories also want to water down human rights laws – including those that prevent the deportation of criminals from overseas because of their right to family life.
UKIP’s Nigel Farage has suggested that women would do better at work if they refrained from having families at all and the party also wishes to give better tax breaks to families where one parent stays home and the other works.
Resolution said that while British families have changed, the existing laws remain outdated and unfair.