Cheshire law firm SAS Daniels LLP has seen a sharp increase in separating parents seeking advice after becoming confused about the heavily publicised Shared Parenting Bill.
Leading family lawyers at the firm in Macclesfield commented that parents who are in the process of separating are becoming confused about the new legislation, with many wrongly under the impression that new laws will automatically split the time they can spend with a child down the middle 50/50.
The news comes in the wake of a Dispatches programme on Channel 4 (screened on Monday 14th January at 8pm) which looked at the issues around the suggested new legislation.
The Family law team said: “In reality this legislation is likely to make very little difference to the majority of cases. The new clause is around the presumption that a child’s welfare will be furthered by the involvement of both parents in his or her life, unless it can be shown that such involvement could cause harm. The fact of the matter is that in the majority of cases this is being applied anyway – the child’s welfare has historically been the primary concern, and that is highly unlikely to ever change.
“The confusion for parents seems to have come from the use of the phrase ‘shared parenting’ and its implied suggestion that parents will be allowed equal access to a child’s time. I’ve seen an increase in the number of people seeking advice because they have assumed that they will have a ‘right’ to 50 per cent of their child’s time, and this is just not the case.
“This legislation is about the right to be involved in major decision making about a child’s life rather than an equal split of the hours each parent gets to spend with their child. Expectation was high for this legislation, especially from the equal rights campaign corner, but the reality is simply not going to match that expectation.”
SAS Daniels, which has offices in Chester, Congleton, Macclesfield and Stockport, has a dedicated family team which deals with several hundred family law cases every year.
This article has also been published on the Greater Manchester Chamber website.