UK – Plans for child access rights for warring parents faces Cabinet battle

Cabinet could be split over parental rights in divorce
Cabinet could be split over parental rights in divorce

Moves to give both parents a legal right to see their children after divorce could cause a Cabinet split, it has emerged.

The Daily Telegraph disclosed yesterday that the Government is drawing up plans to place a legal duty on courts to ensure both parents are given access to their children in divorce settlements.

But a Whitehall source warned the plans will face opposition from some senior ministers in Cabinet, including Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary.

“There have been arguments and debate,” the source said.

Mr Clarke’s apparent opposition is problematic for campaigners who want to bring in the power because the Ministry of Justice is the lead on the policy.

The proposal was considered but dropped by former civil servant David Norgrove in his review of family justice last year.

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Mr Clarke was said at the time to be in favour of Mr Norgrove recommendations and is a strong advocate of allowing courts to use their discretion.

Nick Clegg, the deputy Prime Minister and Iain Duncan Smith, the Welfare Secretary, are said to be in favour as part of the Government’s drive to ensure children have a relationship with both parents.

In a separate move, Jonathan Djanogly, the Justice Minister, yesterday urged more warring couples to use mediation before heading straight to the courts.

He said the New Year was a prime time for divorce with visits to Government advice website on the issue more than 70 per cent higher at this time of year than in December.

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