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Children and Adoption Act

Date:16 JUL 2006

The Children and Adoption Act 2006 (the 2006 Act) received Royal Assent on 21 June 2006. It provides the courts with new powers to promote contact and enforce contact orders made under s 8 of the Children Act 1989 (the 1989 Act) and makes a number of provisions about intercountry adoption, including a statutory framework for the suspension of intercountry adoption from specified countries where there are concerns about practices in connection with the adoption of children. Part 1 provides that during proceedings a court may, even if it does not make a contact order, direct a party to take part in an activity that would promote contact with a child. It may make similar provision by means of a condition in a contact order. The courts' powers in cases involving breach of a contact order are increased by adding:

  • a power to make an enforcement order imposing an unpaid work requirement;
  • a power to order one person to pay compensation to another for a financial loss caused by a breach.

These powers are in addition to their powers as to contempt and their ability to alter the residence and contact arrangements as regards a child. Part 1 also includes provision to reform the courts' existing power to make family assistance orders and imposes a duty on Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) and Welsh family proceedings officers to carry out risk assessments where they suspect a child is at risk of harm.

Part 2 makes provision for the Secretary of State to suspend intercountry adoptions from a country if he has concerns about the practices there in connection with the adoption of children. It also makes other provision for the following other matters relating to intercountry adoption:

  • providing a power for the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales to charge a fee to adopters or prospective adopters for services provided in relation to intercountry adoptions;
  • preventing an overlap of functions by local authorities where a child is brought into the country for the purposes of intercountry adoption; and
  • amending s 83 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 to make it harder for intercountry adopters to circumvent restrictions on bringing children into the UK.

The 2006 Act can be viewed in the Legislation - Acts part of Newswatch below. See September [2006] Fam Law for the full news article.