New Clause 3 - Pilot scheme on early intervention

Part of Children and Adoption Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 21 March 2006.

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‘(1)The Lord Chancellor shall run a pilot scheme better to protect the post-divorce and post-separation family ties of children by providing for intervention before the court makes a contact order with respect to the child.

(2)The order shall designate courts to participate within the scheme.

(3)When a designated court is approached to make a contact order, the court must provide to the parties—

(a)a set of guidelines, indicating in broad terms the levels of contact appropriate in the main categories of cases, in the absence of good reason to the contrary, accompanied by an enjoinder to maintain reasonable contact wherever possible,

(b)the date of the first hearing,

(c)an instruction to attend a meeting with a court-appointed mediator to develop a parenting plan which must include the amount of time each party will spend with the child,

(d)an explanation that parties who do not file the agreed parenting plan must then—

(i)attend a parent education meeting, and

(ii)attend contact-focused dispute resolution and mediation

as decided by the court appointed mediator, before the parties may continue with any application for a contact order, and

(e)a statement that litigation should be a last resort.

(4)Parties who do not wish to ask the court to make a contact order may also make use of the mediation and education facilities of the pilot scheme.

(5)The court shall take into account the willingness of each parent to participate in the scheme.

(6)The pilot scheme must start no later than six months after this Act receives Royal Assent and must run for no longer than two years.

(7)The Lord Chancellor must direct the President of the Family Division to report to him as to the operation of the pilot scheme.

(8)The report under subsection (6) must include an assessment of the extent to which the pilot scheme has achieved the objectives set out in this section.’. —[Tim Loughton.]