Friday, September 26, 2008

UK divorce court study

The London UK Times newspaper reports:
The study, by the Oxford Centre for Family Law and Policy, looked at the perception that often the parent with whom the child is not living, usually the father, is awarded little or no contact for insubstantial reasons.

Bridget Prentice, the Justice Minister, said: “The wellbeing of children is at the heart of the family justice system. Courts should be the last resort for people involved in contact disputes, as mediation can be quicker and less stressful.” ...

Simon Clayton, a father who has fought in the courts for the right to contact and who is a member of the campaigning group Families Need Fathers, said that though contact was welcome, what fathers wanted was the law to be changed to create a presumption – if geography allowed – of “shared care”, unless there were evidence that this would be unsafe. ...

The study concluded that courts are not biased against nonresidential parents but it accepted that the residential parent - who had care of the child - started from a position of strength. The main obstacle to parents winning contact was usually the “resistance” of the parent with care of the child, not the courts, it said.
I guess the study authors were eager to blame the parents. If the law had a strong presumption of joint custody, and acted in a predictable way, then it would be easier for those parents to negotiate something equitable outside of court.

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