Fact Sheet - Shared Care
Q – I have recently read that there is going to be a legal presumption of shared care. What does this mean?
A – This is a proposal only and is at the moment the subject of some debate. It has been a system used inAustraliain relation to children in broken relationships through divorce or the separation of partners but after some years there are doubts as to whether this concept really makes a contribution to the welfare of the child.
Q – Does shared care mean equal time with both parents?
A – No. It is intended to emphasise that each parent continues to have a valued role in the lives of their children, and the overwhelming focus on apportioning children’s time should not reflect an adult agenda but rather that of the child.
Q – Doesn’t that happen now?
A – The provisions of the Children Act 1989 certainly meant it to. That Act provides that both parents who have been married, and many cohabitees who separate, have exactly the same rights and responsibilities for their child as the other parent.
Q – What does that mean?
A – Both father and mother have the rights and responsibilities which used to be known as guardianship. For instance, in theory, both parents have a legal right to consent to the marriage of a child under age, but more practically on a day to day basis both have the right to be advised as to the education and health of their children.
Q – Will a new label help preserve goodwill for the benefit of the children?
A – Looking at the information now available fromAustraliait would appear the issue is not clear cut. What will help though is putting the needs of the child first as the Children Act requires.
Q – If that is not happening what can I do?
A – The Court is there to settle disputes about where the child lives, what school is attended, what religion is applicable, the general upbringing and how much the non resident parent sees the child, BUT that is not the first port of call. Every emphasis is now placed upon mediation, getting parents together to find their own answers and not having solutions thrust upon them so that it is felt there are winners and losers. This must be the best approach.
Q – What if my former partner is clearly not acting in the best interests of the children?
A – Both parents must take responsibility for what goes on in the child’s life and one way of dealing with recurring difficulties is by going to parenting information sessions, not necessarily together, to learn ways of containing and working through difficulties.
Q – Can I get help about my specific problems?
A – Yes. Contact your CAB for details of parenting information sessions; look up online to find Mediators who specialise in children’s work; read the Parenting Plan booklet produced by CAFCASS (www.tsoshop.co.uk); consult your GP if you feel your child is suffering emotionally for a referral to family counselling; see your Solicitor to talk through the options or telephone Paul for an appointment on 01442 872311.
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 01442 872311