Review of the Draft Children and Civil Status (Amendments) (Jersey) Law 202-
Launch date: 09/01/2024
Review status: Review started
What is the review about?
Background and Context
The Children and Civil Status (Amendments) (Jersey) Law 202- ('draft Law') has been lodged, in order to address the inequalities faced by same-sex couples acquiring legal parental status and parental responsibility, by enabling Jersey's Laws to facilitate the acquisition of legal parental status and parental responsibility by a child's parents.
The policy development behind the draft Law commenced in 2018, which included a Gap Analysis of the legal provisions regarding same-sex parenting couples as a result of Recommendation 5 of the Independent Jersey Care Enquiry Report (R.59/2017). The current laws governing parental responsibility require same-sex parents and parenting couples not biologically related to their child, to undergo an adoption process to obtain legal parental status.
The Panel understands that the Minister intends for the draft Law to equalise the policy position between couples in civil partnerships and married couples, change the provisions on birth certificates from "mothers" and "fathers" to "mothers" and "second parent" and introduce Parental Orders to Jersey. The draft Law also includes provisions that confer parental responsibility to stepparents without the requirement to follow a court order process.
The draft Law is brought forward as primary law with a number of consequential amendments to be brought forward as regulations at a later date. The draft Law will require new registers to be distributed to all parishes in Jersey, and the Royal Court will be required to draft and bring into force the new Parental Order rules.
The Panel received a briefing on the policy intentions of the draft Law on 9th February 2023, and a second briefing on the specific key Schedules and Articles of the draft Law on 24th July 2023. The Panel raises a number of key points to be addressed in respect of the draft Law as follows:
- The impact of the draft Law and the significance of the proposed changes for Jersey, and how these will be communicated to Islanders.
- Clarity for parents that commenced family planning arrangements prior to the draft Law coming into effect (e.g. the legal parental responsibility for children born through a surrogacy arrangement in England and Wales prior to the draft Law coming into effect).
- How the proposed draft Law will operate alongside existing legislation (e.g. the Legitimacy (Jersey) Law 1973)
- What consideration has been given to the resource and funding implications of the draft Law should it be adopted.
Terms of reference
1. To conduct legislative scrutiny of the Children and Civil Status (Amendments) (Jersey) Law 202- (the draft Law) to ensure the accuracy and adequacy of the draft Law.
2. To assess the consultation process undertaken to inform the draft Law by gathering the views of key stakeholders.
3. To consider the Government's assessment of the impact of the draft Law on children and young people.
4. To assess the consequential amendments arising from the adoption of the draft Law.