Tag : child-benefit-changes
Tag : child-benefit-changes
Deciding which school your child will attend can be one of the trickier aspects of post-separation parenting. Whatever problems existed at the time of the relationship breakdown will inevitably arise if one parent moves out of the area and wants their children to change school as a result.
Parents will be naturally concerned about the legal rights and responsibilities in respect of their children’s schooling and divorce can have an impact on the role each parent has for their child/children at school. We have outlined below, parental rights, responsibilities and options available in respect of schooling.
If both parents have parental responsibility (i.e. children’s mother or father (married to mother when child is born or on the child’s birth certificate), both parents have to agree to a change of school. Neither parent has superior rights over the other nor can a parent assert that they have the right to decide what school the child should attend.
If parents cannot agree on the choice of school, then an application can be made to the court under the Children Act 1989 for the court to make the decision. The two types of orders applied for are:
The orders listed above can be applied for on their own or as part of an application in respect of the overall arrangements for the children.
When considering an application the court will consider what is in the best interests of the child and will look at the ability of the parents to sustain the child’s attendance (e.g. school fees, travel to school). The court will also consider the child’s wishes and feelings (where they are old enough to have formed an opinion in light of their age and understanding) as well as any educational needs amongst other factors.
Separation may involve bad feelings between parents (and their families). Children can pick up on this which may make them confused or unhappy, or even blame themselves for a break-up. It is important that parents are sensitive to their children’s needs during this time and try to resolve their differences.
If you, or your former partner, are contemplating a change of school, obtaining legal advice early on in the process can help overcome any potential problems.
Our specialist Family team can provide advice to ensure that all appropriate steps are taken. Contact a member of our team today on 0161 927 3118.
A new report from single parent Charity Gingerbread claims that single parents are losing out on vital support for their children.
The charity highlights in its report entitled Children Deserve More failings in the present system which allow absent parents to get away with failing to provide the correct level of support for their children.
According to reports, reform to the child maintenance system is helping absent parents avoid their responsibilities when it comes to paying child maintenance because the system prioritises convenience over other concerns.
Child support has proved to be a difficult area for successive governments and this latest report highlights that these problems continue.
Child support is currently calculated on gross earnings which are self-reported to HMRC. Individuals who are self-employed or business owners can get off lightly and pay less than they should as a result. Many wealthy individuals can get away with paying the bare minimum the report goes on to say.
The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) has proved to be of little help in these cases according to the report with single parents often being referred back to HMRC only to get the same result.
Plans for ‘tax free childcare’ were initially proposed back in the 2013 budget and are set to be implemented in 2017. According to the gov.uk website the scheme will be available to around 2 million households to help with the cost of childcare.
Parents will need to open an online account with can be done through the government website and can pay into the account to cover the cost of childcare with a registered provider. For every 80 pence paid in, the government will top up an extra 20 pence up to a total of £10,000 which is equivalent to £2,000 per child per year (£4,000 for disabled children). The scheme will be available for children up to the age of 12 and 17 for disabled children.
To qualify a parent must earn more than £115 per week but not more than £100,000 per year. Self-employed parents now also qualify (unlike the previous scheme which was only available for employed parents).
The scheme will be rolled out gradually with all eligible parents being able to join the scheme by the end of 2017.
After a long period of growth since 2011, the number of adoptions fell in the 12 months to March 2016 for the first time while the number of children in foster care continues to rise.
Statistics also show that the 2,700 babies under the age of one were placed in council care in 2015. The rise has been largely put down to government pressure on social workers which has been driven by high profile failings such as the Baby Peter neglect scandal of 2007.
The falling trend in adoptions is predicted to continue with the number of children placed for adoption also falling. This is likely to have implications for the psychological wellbeing of children according to a recent article in the Independent newspaper. Some children are said to suffer psychological attachment disorders that lead to behavioural problems in later life.
The number of children taken into care has risen 96% from 5,500 in 1995 to 10,790 in 2016. While there is pressure on social workers to avoid the failings of the past it may be that too many children are now being placed in care with no studies to back up if this is really best solution for the children involved. However, it’s a tricky balance to strike when nobody wants to see a repeat of the Baby Peter Case.
Sir James Munby, Court of Appeal Judge, has said that more children should have their voices heard to explain their feelings in court. The judge outlined his thoughts in a ruling on a Court of Appeal case which involved a 14 year old girl who complained that a judge had not met with her and she was deprived of her right to participate.
Sir James Munby said that judges’ approach to the issue of children giving evidence in Family Court hearings must change ‘sooner rather than later’.
Six years ago, a Supreme Court Justice said there had been a presumption against children giving evidence. Lady Hale, during a Supreme Court ruling said that such a presumption raised significant human rights issues and judges should not presume that a child should not give evidence. Sir James Munby referred to the fact that Lady Hale’s analysis had led to discussions among senior judges and new guidelines being published however he also stated that sometimes judges had been slow to recognise the need for change.
Sir James Munby then went on to say ‘one thing is clear: that proper adherence to the principles laid down (by the Supreme Court) will see ever increasing numbers of children giving evidence in family proceedings.’.
Adoption was made a priority by the coalition, as the prime minister declared in 2012 there was ‘no more pressing issue’ than speeding up the adoption process. Between 2012-2014 the number of children completing the adoption process rose by 60%.However, latest figures released by the Department for Education show the number of children granted an adoption placement order has dropped by 24% from 2014.
The National Adoption Leadership Board has linked decreases in placement orders to the impact of two recent court judgments, Re B (A Child)  and Re B-S (Children) . These cases concerned appeals by parents opposing the adoption of their children. The number of looked after children has increased steadily over the past seven years however the majority of children looked after are placed with foster carers. Of the total looked after children in March 2015, 75% of them were cared for in a foster placement.
A spokesperson from the Department for Education has stated that the reason for the decrease in the number of children with an adoption decision is a result of the way local authorities have interpreted some court judgments. The Adoption Leadership Board has therefore published guidance to clarify what these judgments mean and to allow clear and confident adoption decisions to be made.
The Chief Executive of Barnardo’s, Javed Khan, has expressed deep concern at the fall in the number of children being put forward for adoption. Mr Khan feels that Local authorities shouldn’t ‘shy away’ from acting decisively on adoption. If the fall in adoption numbers continues ‘unchecked’ it is thought that a real crisis could occur as children will be stuck in limbo or miss out completely on the chance of growing up in their own loving and supportive family.
Following the recent closure of the British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), the Welsh government is taking measures it hopes will maintain and improve upon the work done by the former charity.
The announcement comes just after the largest association of professional social workers wrote about their concerns for the future of fostering and adoption without the help provided by the charity.
One of the key measures announced is the passing on of the Wales Adoption Register to the National Adoption service. However it is not just the service itself that has been affected. Staff training and a new helpline will be operated by a new body.
Many of the staff who would previously have worked for the BAAF will be recruited to the new body. It is hoped that this will ensure that standards in the sector are maintained in Wales and best practice guidelines are adhered to.
The British Association of Social Workers have already expressed their concern about the closure of BAAF and it looks likely that even with a new body being set up, it will be difficult to maintain standards and existing staff training.
With social workers often under pressure, the closure of the BAAF is likely to put more pressure on resources and staff.
The British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) has closed with immediate affect removing one of the key organisations involved in campaigning for children in care.
What is left of the BAAF will be merged with Children’s Adoption Charity Coram and continue to provide support in particular areas such as membership administration of the new CoramBAAF Adoption & Fostering Academy as well as research and development. The magazine Be My Parent won’t survive the closure.
While the closure is happening with immediate affect in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to exist for a limited period which will allow time for services to be transferred to alternative organisations.
The Scottish government has decided to transfer activities from the Scotland adoption register to a new national adopter information helpline which will be operated by the St Andrew’s Children’s Society according to reports.
A spokesperson for the organisation blamed ‘significant changes’ and ‘economic conditions’ for the closure though the causes for the former were unclear. The closure is likely to result in some limitations to the support on offer for adopted children in the future and put more pressure on associated charities to continue to provide help to vulnerable children.
Ofsted recently undertook a study of ten local authorities and 123 cases of children involved with social services in a survey commissioned by Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw. Overall the assessments showed that vulnerable children in England could be at risk due to delays in social workers’ assessments of the care they need. The study found that assessments in 25% of cases were not ‘timely enough’.
Ofsted have reported that accurate assessments are crucial to ensuring children get the help that they need and ensure that ‘decisive, effective action’ is taken to protect children. One theme of the report was that the views of the children and their families were rarely considered. Despite the facts improvements had been made since previous investigations including the fact that parents, particularly men, said that social workers were spending more time listening to them than before and other positive findings, the report still found that delays in assessments still leave children at risk.
The Ofsted report found that the process was too slow in a quarter of cases and too often social workers were not sharing routinely shared written assessments with families and social workers did not always update assessments to reflect changing circumstances. The report also found that in 21% of cases support plans did not clearly show what help children and their families would receive. In eight local authorities the report found there were significant delays in accessing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
Sir Michael Wilshaw has commented that the improvement in the assessments is encouraging however he notes ‘there is still more to do before we can be assured that all children and families are receiving the high standards of care required’.
Both Jersey and Guernsey have decided to drop laws that prevented same sex couples from adopting children.
Guernsey decided that its adoption law, which was introduced in the mid- 1960s to prevent same sex couples from adopting children was now inappropriate. The recent change in the law will see same sex couples being free to adopt children for the first time in Guernsey and Jersey.
The change in the law allowing same sex couples to adopt will be viewed as a major step forward and put an end to discrimination as well as bring the Channel Islands into line with the UK and most other European countries.
The laws over same sex adoption while liberal in most countries are still under debate or ambiguous in some countries particularly in many Eastern European countries and Italy.
In Jersey, children aged 14 will be able to veto adoption orders and the law change also means that unmarried same sex couples can now jointly adopt a child even if a child aged 14 or over needs to be in agreement for the adoption to commence.
As reported on the BBC website Andrew Green, Health and Social Services Minister of Jersey said, “It makes Jersey’s law fit for purpose and compliant with our own discrimination laws. At the heart of the legislation is the welfare of the child and the right to a loving and secure home.”