BVI News

Lawmakers change course regarding parental control

Health Minister Ronnie Skelton

Lawmakers have scrapped a highly contentious clause in a proposed legislation, which would have relieved parents of their responsibility for some children who ‘voluntarily withdraw’ from parental control.

The clause was deleted after public outcry in response to a related story published by BVI News Online, as well as concerns raised openly in the House of Assembly by Deputy Premier Dr Kedrick Pickering and youth affairs minister Myron Walwyn.

Initially, Sub-section 2 under Part II of the proposed Child Maintenance and Access Act allowed children who are 16 years or older to leave the control of their parents.

The parents, in turn, would not be required to maintain such children if they withdraw from parental control for reasons other than abuse.

The initial proposal SAID:

CREDIT: Child Maintenance and Access Act (initial version)

However, before the proposed Act was passed recently in the House of Assembly, lawmakers, behind closed doors, made amendments to it.

Those amendments are now reflected in a revised version of the suggested Act, which was published this week in the Virgin Islands Gazette.

As illustrated in the comparative screenshots posted here, the contentious sub-section 2 does not appear in the amended version of the proposed section.

CREDIT: Child Maintenance and Access Act (revised version)

The suggested Child Maintenance and Access Act, which the Governor is yet to approve, is the first that extensively seeks to address the issue of child maintenance in the British Virgin Islands.

Over the years, there were limited provisions for child maintenance and access in a few sections of the Magistrate’s Code of Procedure Act, which is also being amended to facilitate the newly proposed Child Maintenance and Access Act.

Minister of Health and Social Development Ronnie Skelton was the one who brought the new bill to the House of Assembly.

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