Two parents better than one?

November 13, 2012 11:50 am Published by

Sometimes, completely unintentionally it can sound to an outsider as if the child is as a possession when the reality is that parents love and care for their children and only want what is best for them. What is best is something the Courts are frequently asked to determine and in doing so they have to give paramount consideration to the child’s welfare.

It has long been considered by professionals that, on the whole, children benefit from a relationship with both of their parents. Despite, this well established view nothing is recorded in the Children Act to this effect. The overriding principle of the Act is that “the child’s welfare shall be the paramount consideration”. In reality this has led to Courts needing very strong reasons for denying a child a relationship with one or other of its parents and it is only in exceptional circumstances that this will be allowed.

The Government have been in consultation concerning the concept of shared parenting and have recently, against strong opposition, confirmed their plans to legislate for a legal presumption in favour of this. This does not mean an automatic equal division of a child’s time between his or hers parents but records, in statue, for the first time, what has long been considered to be in a child’s best interest.

Whether this affects the outcome of the thousands of cases that are brought before the Court each year is unlikely. Judges already recognise the importance of a child enjoying a relationship with both his/her parents. What it will do is send a clear message to those parents who think that, for whatever reason, they can exclude a parent from their child’s life just because they have decided that they no longer want that person in their life.

Instead, the involvement of both parents in a child’s upbringing would become the courts’ default position and they would need a specific and clear reason to exclude one of them, such as potential harm to the child. Indeed the explanatory note accompanying the proposed insertion reads;

“The purpose of this amendment is to reinforce the importance of children having an ongoing relationship with both parents after family separation, where that is safe, and in the child’s best interests.”

Only time will tell whether this proposed change will make any difference to the way in which cases are dealt with by the Judiciary. Whilst I can see the benefits of this amendment, I believe that family Judges already recognise the importance that both parents play in a child’s life. Perhaps of more importance to the government should be the delay that parents currently face when making an application concerning their children.

For specific advice concerning your children or family circumstances please contact Demelza Butler, Family Solicitor at Blocks Solicitors on 01473 343 908 or emaildcb@blockslegal.co.uk

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This post was written by Demelza