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Parents obstructing return of children face arrest

02 November, 2004

Parents obstructing return of children face arrest

Parents who use their children to get back at estranged or divorced partners by preventing their return to the parent with day-to-day care, face the possibility of arrest, says Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope says the Government will propose an amendment to the Care of Children Bill, being considered by Parliament this week, to ensure the law has the necessary teeth to guarantee court directions are carried out.

An amendment to the Bill will provide the Police with the power of arrest for the existing offence of resisting execution of a warrant to enforce a parent or guardian's role of providing day-to-day care of a child. The same power will exist in ensuring contact with a child.

"The cornerstone principle in the Bill is that the welfare and best interests of the child must be the first and paramount," said Mr Benson-Pope. "The Government was concerned that without a specific arrest power the purpose of warrants – the safe return of a child – could be frustrated.

"When decisions have been made about the day-to-day care of a child it is appropriate that Police will be able to take action in the best interest of that child."

Mr Benson-Pope says the Government intends to make a number of other minor amendments. These include enabling the continuation of professional legal publications to report care of children cases. These legal reports are considered an important resource amongst Family Court professionals. However, they will be prevented from publishing names of parties or children.

The Government is concerned a clause within the Bill requiring consent from an intended testamentary guardian is unnecessary and will impose additional costs on persons making wills or deeds. The Government proposes omitting this clause. Other amendments will be of a minor or technical drafting nature.

"The Care of Children Bill represents the most significant improvements to guardianship laws in almost four decades," said Mr Benson-Pope. "It includes a range of changes to the law, all with the purpose of improving the situation of children and families who have experienced divorce and separation."

ENDS

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