Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Family Justice Review - January Update from the Review Panel

You may have seen in recent days that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published a green paper on the future of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. It is entitled Strengthening families, promoting parental responsibility: the future of child maintenance. You can access a copy here:

As part of the green paper, DWP have asked us to look at the extent to which decisions on maintenance or contact should have a bearing on each other - alongside our emerging proposals for whole-system reform.

The full proposal is laid out in the Green Paper as follows:

We know that one of the most significant issues for non-resident parents is when contact with their children is denied or withheld. This can lead to tension and hostility between the parents, especially where maintenance is still being collected through the statutory system. We are keen to explore approaches that allow maintenance arrangements to be considered in the round when determining appropriate contact enforcement measures. We recognise, however, that there are challenges in linking maintenance and contact in this way, most importantly how such decisions might impact on the best interests of the child. We also recognise that it is important that this issue is considered within the context of wider reforms that are currently being progressed elsewhere in government. We have therefore requested that the Family Justice Review consider this issue as part of its wider work in developing options for reform of the Family Justice Sy stem.

I am aware that you may have an opinion on this issue, but might not have addressed it in your evidence to the Review. We plan to set out the issues and invite further views on this in our interim report, to be published at the end of March.

If, however, you want to pass on any immediate comments on this proposal for our consideration ahead of this, we would be grateful to receive these by Friday 4 February.

Please submit any evidence to:

Kind regards,

David Norgrove
Chair of the Family Justice Review