Parenting law has 'dangers', says Clarke

  • @NigelpMorris

Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, admitted yesterday that there were "dangers" in his plans to give stronger rights to divorced and separated parents to see their children.

He stopped short of guaranteeing equal access, but confirmed proposals to change the law to stress the importance of both parents maintaining links with their children.

He insisted the courts would still decide whether contact was "safe and in the child's best interests", and said new legislation would make clear a "meaningful relationship is not about equal division of time, but the quality of parenting".

Mr Clarke overruled the conclusion of former senior civil servant, David Norgrove, who conducted a review into the issue. The latter raised fears that enshrining the right in law could backfire, saying a similar move in Australia led to delays in settling disputes over custody.

But Mr Clarke said: "We are stating what I think is the view of most people... that both parents have responsibilities and rights towards their children and the children are entitled to try and maintain contact with both parents. We are going to state that principle in the law."