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Lawyer Says No Simple Solution To Shared Parenting Problem

Channel 4 Documentary To Highlight The Issue


Leading family law experts say that shared parenting is not as simple as agreeing a 50/50 split and that in most cases this ideal can’t be achieved.

The Government outlined plans last year to introduce laws which reinforce the notion that both parents should be jointly responsible for looking after their children after a separation. Courts are currently required to conduct proceedings in the child’s best interests; the new laws would force the courts to presume from the start that the best situation is to have contact with both parents.

TV presenter Tim Lovejoy, himself a divorced parent, is to discuss the issue tonight (14 January 2013) on Channel 4’s documentary series Dispatches titled ‘Sharing Mum and Dad’.

A leading family Lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, which has a dedicated team of family law experts across the UK, says that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution to the problem of shared parenting which can often be more complicated than spending half the time with each parent.

Alison Hawes, a family lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office, said: “While it is clear that in the vast majority of cases children need to spend time with both parents to have the most rounded up-bringing, a 50/50 split is not always suitable for all parents. Each divorce requires a bespoke approach which suits everyone involved, and most importantly is in the best interests of the children.

“There will be parents who want to be more involved in their child’s upbringing than they are currently allowed, and equally there may be parents who don’t want to look after their children for as long as the other parent wishes them to.

“Many reasons affect how often separated parents wish to, or are able to, see their children, such as location, working hours and the relationship with the other parent.”

Hawes added that the new laws could result in further court action as parents may misunderstand the wording of the legislation and take legal action in order to prevent the other parent from being involved in their children’s lives.

She commented: “The danger with the new law is that it is misinterpreted by some parents who believe it immediately grants the right for their child live to live with each parent for half the time, when in reality this may not be practical for the best interests of that child.

“What is needed is a sensible approach from parents so that they can work together to achieve the best for their children.

“People who are experiencing problems in getting contact with their children should seek legal advice from an experienced family lawyer. The courts are increasingly looking for parents to attempt to sort out their differences and issues amongst themselves, possibly by mediation or arbitration, before taking matters before a judge.”