No – it’s not all about some overly clever family lawyer arguing about what living with a child actually means – it’s the government, who simply can’t resist fiddling with existing legislation. As part of the latest “Draft Legislation on Family Justice” published last month”, the government, in its wisdom, has decided that they should be yet another change to the words used to decide where children live and who they should visit. Many of you will still use the words “custody” and “access” rather than the words introduced by the 1989 Children Act – “residence” and “contact”. Just as people were starting to get used to the new wording, the government comes along with a yet another expression which is to completely replace residence and contact – have they gone back to the words many non lawyers still actually use – custody and residence –oh, no. That would be far too simple. Instead they have come up with a third description – in future all orders concerning children’s living arrangements and who they see, will be covered by “Child Arrangements Orders”. Really!
You would have thought that at a time when family law is going undergoing massive change, and the government quite rightly has no choice but to make swingeing cuts come across all departmental budgets, they could have left such wording alone. What difference does it really make? Ironically, the only thing it will achieve is further expense – as all current forms, leaflets and other printed material will have to be redesigned and reprinted to cover the new preferred wording.
My conclusion – some people simply have far too much time on their hands!