Shared parenting

Year Published: 2012

A hot topic at the moment is ‘shared parenting’ and whether legislation should be amended to include the following:- ‘the welfare of the child concerned will be furthered by involvement in the child’s upbringing of each parent of the child who can be involved in a way not adverse to the child’s safety’.

The above is a sensible suggestion. It would ensure that the importance of having both parents in a child’s life is always at the forefront of decisions made by the Court. It seems however that the Law Society do not support the view of the Government.

The position of the Law Society is that it supports the Government’s wish to promote co-operative parenting but to amend the legislation is in the view of the Law Society ‘seriously flawed’. The Law Society view is that the Courts already accept that the welfare of a child is likely to be enhanced by the involvement of both parents however the Law Society does not see a need for this to be specifically referred to in legislation.

For some reason, the Law Society is of the view that the introduction of shared parenting legislation could put children’s safety at risk, but how can this be? Surely it is right that Courts should always look at shared parenting as being a presumption so that it is right in a particular case and to have that on the statute books is better than there merely being a principle which is sometimes referred to.

During divorce proceedings, many mothers who are at the time, angry, need to be reminded of the importance of the children having contact with their fathers and at times, some fathers need to be persuaded to maintain contact with their children. Children are never to blame in the separation of their parents and they should not be punished by being denied a meaningful relationship with their absent parent.

It is probably accepted by the majority of people that the absent parent is more often than not the father but times are changing. The majority of separating couples both work and so shared parenting arrangements fit in better with people’s lives than they perhaps did a decade ago.

Few people would disagree that it is important that children maintain a relationship with both their parents, particularly after divorce or separation. Children are quick to adapt to new situations but maintaining a relationship with an absent parent assists in them coming to terms with their new circumstances.

Absent parents do also need to be aware that ‘shared do parenting’ does not automatically mean that there is an equal division of time between parents, but this is perhaps a step in the right direction.

If you have any concerns regarding the issues raised above please contact our Family Law team on 0161 475 7676.

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