One of the main concepts in the new Children Act (1989) is that of parental responsibility, which will significantly alter the practice of family law and that of mental health professionals dealing with the troubled family. Instead of an assumption that parents have absolute authority over their children, there is the notion of a partnership between parents and children, with the power of the parent decreasing as the child grows in maturity and understanding. There is an emphasis on partnership between parents and those who will have to share in having parental responsibility when it has broken down. Thus the new Act is essentially child centred. It affirms the principle, current in Wardship proceedings, that the child's welfare shall be the court's paramount consideration.
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