New law aims to provide fairer access to children

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The Independent Online

The Government is to bring in legislation to ensure both parents have access to their children after divorce or separation, in an attempt to defuse the campaigns by fathers' groups.

The Government is to bring in legislation to ensure both parents have access to their children after divorce or separation, in an attempt to defuse the campaigns by fathers' groups.

While rejecting calls from groups such as Fathers4Justice for the the law to presume "50-50 contact", the Government's package will include measures to ensure children have access to both parents.

It will also advocate use of "parenting plans" spelling out the time to be spent with each parent; legal aid to promote early resolution of disputes; use of conciliation procedures to reduce the number of cases which come to court and experimental schemes for more intensive intervention in difficult cases.

Today Tony Blair will pledge to end "latch-key kids" with a guarantee to offer affordable child care for all children of primary school age, within the lifetime of the next Parliament.

Parents will be expected to pay up to £3.50 an hour for each child for childcare which will be available from 8am to 6pm. However those on low incomes will be able to claim the childcare element of the working tax credit which will cover 70 per cent of the cost.