Myerson-News-Family-Law

Fathers do get Justice


So says a report by the Universities of Warwick and Reading, funded by the Nuffield Foundation. The study involved a review of almost 200 files from 2011 and concluded that:-

  • Courts did not discriminate against fathers simply because of their gender
  • Contact applications by fathers were “ overwhelmingly successful”
  • Mothers were usually the primary carer but this reflected the fact that most women are more likely to assume this role after relationship breakdown
  • There was no court bias against fathers
  • 12% of applications before the court involved grandparents or other relative carers
  • Transfers of sole residence orders were rare as the court sought to preserve the status quo, but when they were ordered, it was more likely that there would be a transfer from mother to father, rather than the other way round
  • There were concerns raised that equal or near equal care was being used as a way to ensure adult fairness, rather than achieving the best outcome for the child
  • Family courts are used as a last resort
  • Litigation between parties does not inevitably lead to enhanced or entrenched conflict
  • The recent legal aid cuts have made it unaffordable for most parents to litigate
  • Legal aid is available for family mediation
  • There were concerns that the legal aid cuts would lead to parents agreeing unsafe arrangements where risk was not managed appropriately, or would lead to a stalemate where lots of parents were unable to reach agreement

 

Certainly as a solicitor and family mediator, I experience a great deal of opposition to the idea of attending mediation by the primary care giver. In effect, this means that the absent parent has a stark choice: to give up on the whole idea of trying to maintain contact with the children, or to issue a court application. Many do not have the financial means to issue that application, or have the confidence to represent themselves in court.

I have also been a witness to complicated shared care arrangements where the payment of child maintenance and the emotional needs of both parents, as opposed to the children’s needs, have played a pivotal role in negotiations.

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