A family Christmas?

By | 9 December 2014
Image from National Archives of the Netherlands - Nationaal Archief, via flickr.com

Image from National Archives of the Netherlands – Nationaal Archief, via flickr.com

Christmas is generally considered to be a time for families to be together. A lot of Christmas traditions focus on children, particularly when it comes to receiving gifts. In Thailand this tradition is reversed, as children have to give gifts to their elders instead, which some parents in the UK might appreciate!

It is also a time when we think about the children who won’t be getting lots of presents under the tree, who don’t have families to have Christmas dinner with, who are alone and vulnerable.  The new Children and Families Act came into force back in the Spring, and includes some important changes designed to help children in vulnerable situations in the UK. Some of the key changes include:

  • children in care have the choice to stay with their foster families until they turn 21
  • young carers’ and parent carers’ rights to support from councils should be much clearer
  • reforms to children’s residential care to make sure homes are safe and secure, and to improve the quality of care vulnerable children receive


Some changes have also been brought in to make it easier for families to arrange childcare :

  • from April 2015, mothers, fathers and adopters can opt to share parental leave around their child’s birth or placement. This gives families more choice over taking leave in the first year – dads and mothers’ partners can take up to a year, or parents can take several months at the same time
  • from 1 October 2014, prospective fathers or a mother’s partner can take time off to attend up to 2 antenatal appointments
  • adoption leave and pay will reflect entitlements available to birth parents from April 2015 – no qualifying period for leave; enhanced pay to 90% of salary for the first 6 weeks; and time off to attend introductory appointments. Intended parents in surrogacy and ‘foster to adopt’ arrangements will also qualify for adoption leave and pay
  • extending the right to request flexible working to all employees from 30 June 2014


There is a useful article in Family Law summarising these changes. If you want to read the full Act, you can find it here. You can also find the latest edition of The Family Court Practice  (2014) in the LawBod at KN367.FAM

For further research on family law in the UK, you could try Jordan’s Family Law Online or look at our Family Law libguide.