Thursday, July 15, 2004

The subject of the rights of fathers and the extended family is one of crucial importance. I have just issued the following statement of support:

Antony Little, parliamentary spokesman for Norwich, today endorsed calls by Conservatives nationally to review family law and give divorced parents greater rights of access to their children. Today divorce affects almost 150,000 children every year, more than two-thirds of whom are under the age of ten.

Antony, who holds a pastoral role in a City High School, explained,
“When relationships break up, too many children become unfairly cut off from one of their parents, as well as grandparents and other close relatives. The current legal system isn’t working, trapping many families for years in the courts running up massive legal bills.”

Under the three-point plan to guide a review of family law by Conservatives:
· There should be a strong presumption in favour of equal rights for parents to have an influence on the upbringing of their children.
· Mediation should as far as possible always be the first step – taking matters to court should be the last resort for parents who separate.
· The procedures and powers of the family courts should be much more open and fair.

Antony added,
“The current system is hugely expensive, inefficient, unfair, insensitive and often, fairly chaotic. All of this causes resentment, frustration and anger in families across Norwich. I see day in, day out the impact it has on the lives of our young people. I believe there should be a presumption that the extended family has a crucial role to play in the upbringing of children. It's time to put the children first.”

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