A judge once ordered the return of two little girls to their mother. They had been with their father for 14 months and he cared for them when their mother left to live with someone else. The judge decided that the children should return to live with their mother and the father appealed and lost. The case made headline news. Time has moved on since then and there is no presumption that children should be with one parent more than the other. When children are asked what they want, the thing they usually want the most is for their parents to stop arguing about them. They want to be able to have a nice time whether it is at mum’s house or dad’s house. They don’t want to worry is mum ok when they go to Dad’s or the other way round.
Many parents despite their own difficulties are able to put their children first and reach an amicable agreement for the sake of their children. More and more parents are agreeing arrangements where the care of their children is shared.
In a recent case our Family Law team acted for a father of a four year old little boy who is now six. The mother was totally against him staying with his father. The father made every effort to work with the mother and to learn and understand as much as he could about her own feelings. He attended a Separated Parent Information Programme, read ‘Parenting Apart’ by Christina McGee. He never criticised the mother and recognised that she was a good mother who clearly loved their son and wanted what was best for him. He came across very well in court, again never being critical of his son’s mother, just concentrating on the things that they did together, painting shells, nature walks, swimming lessons, making his own vegetable garden. After three court hearings he received an order where he could share care of their son.
Relationships between him and his son’s mother are not ideal but they have a working relationship for their son. This client received the right advice from the outset and was able to prepare his case with the help from SAS Daniels LLP about how the court considered applications for a child arrangements order (previously residence/custody). Over the months leading up to his application we were able to help him put himself in a position where he could address all matters that a judge would take into account when considering his application. To be armed with the knowledge of what a judge/magistrate takes into account helped him considerably.