Government announces new shared parenting consultation19 Jun 2012
Naomi Angell, head of the adoption team at Osbornes solicitors, London and currently co-chair of the Family Law Committee of the Law Society, was interviewed on Radio 5 Live on 13 January 2012 on the day of publication of the government’s consultation on shared parenting.
The government gives four options for strengthening the law to support both parents remaining involved with their children separation.
“It is clearly important that children should maintain a relationship with both parents after separation, provided it is safe for the child to do so. Each case has to be approached individually and the child’s best interests must be paramount, rather than the parents’ wishes”.
A risk of including a presumption in favour of shared parenting in any new law is that it could be misunderstood to infer that parents should have shared or equal time with their children, rather than shared responsibility for their children’s wellbeing and future. Unrealistic expectations risk causing more frustration for parents who already feel that they are being marginalised in their child’s life.
In the vast majority of cases, parents agree on what is best for their children on separation, or mediate an agreement. A change in the law could risk fewer non resident parents, and mainly fathers, being prepared to enter into mediation, resulting in more court hearings where parental relationships are often irreparably damaged and the children caught in the crossfire.
Changing the law on shared parenting will not address the small number of entrenched cases where the resident parent refuses to respect court orders, in an attempt to cut the other parent out of the children’s future. The consultation proposes new ways in which these complex cases, which are hugely damaging to the child, can be resolved and this is to be welcomed.
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