Fathers’ success at court
Contrary to what some may believe, a recent report has indicated that the courts in England and Wales do not discriminate against fathers because of their gender. In fact, contact applications brought by fathers were found to be “overwhelmingly successful”.
The study, prepared by the Universities of Warwick and Reading is evidence that fathers are valued by the court system as being an important part of their children’s lives; a welcome finding by many in a society which appreciates men as being good care givers.
The report found that women were generally the primary carers, however there was no indication of any bias towards women over men and fathers’ applications to see their children were very successful.
Of the almost 200 cases from a six month period in 2011, the vast majority could not be resolved through mediation, and the parents had used the court process as a last resort.
There is a common perception that a drawback of going to court to resolve a dispute about children is that the proceedings take too long, and the adversarial nature of court entrench the parents in conflict . This in turn will have a negative impact on the children.
The report found that this is in fact not the case; the court use different hearings to gradually introduce or reintroduce contact and this should not be viewed as unnecessary delay.
Perhaps surprisingly, the majority of cases had been resolved by the parents coming to an agreement and their agreement being recorded in a Consent Order; evidencing that going to court does not intensify conflict between parents.
The report highlights a positive in that the courts do not discriminate against fathers, which is a welcome finding. However the report also found how important the court is in resolving disputes in respect of children.
The report highlighted the importance of the court’s role in resolving disputes about the children.
Concern was expressed that now that court is not an option for many parents, due to the severe cutbacks in the availability of legal aid, that real damage will be caused by parents lacking access to the court system, not the court system itself as perhaps previously thought. If parents cannot seek the court’s guidance, they may enter into unsafe contact arrangements, or fail to come to an arrangement all together. If access to court is not possible parents can refer themselves to mediation to try to agree an appropriate parenting plan for the children.
The Family Team at Whitehead Monckton has a wealth of experience in acting for both mothers and fathers in matters relating to their children and also provide mediation services. If you need any assistance following a relationship breakdown then please contact one of the family team.