The DoE have today launched a public consultation:
Co-operative Parenting Following Family Separation: Proposed Legislation on the Involvement of Both Parents in a Child''s Life
Launch Date: Wednesday 13 June 2012
Closing Date: Wednesday 5 September 2012
The majority of parents who separate reach their own agreements about the care arrangements for their children. However, when disputes about these arrangements arise there is a risk that children''s needs are overlooked. In too many cases one parent is left in a position where it is very hard to retain a strong and influential relationship with his or her child. The Government firmly believes that parents who are able and willing to play a positive role in their child''s care should have the opportunity to do so. The aim of the proposed legislative amendment is to ensure that this happens in court cases and to reinforce the expectation generally that both parents are jointly responsible for their children''s upbringing. The Government also believes that a tougher approach is needed in cases where court orders are breached, and it intends to explore the scope for additional enforcement sanctions for the courts. This consultation includes options and questions on how court orders in private family cases regarding the care of children can be more effectively enforced.
The full consultation document can be accessed by clicking here
Wikivorce will be submitting a response, based on the feedback received from members. We welcome your views, thoughts and proposals you may have for legal change on this issue. This thread will form the main discussion thread. If you wish to respond privately, then please send a private message to TeamWiki
Co-operative parenting is very easy to say but in reality the options set out do leave a lot of scope for the legal system to keep things as they are.
The law really does need to recognise that both parents are equally important and capable of providing valuable contributions to a childs upbringing. The current system seems to be far from gender-blind and the assumption certainly appears to be that the mother is more important than the father who is given contact more as lip-service to say that contact is given, two weekend a month and a day in the week is no where near equality.
The penalties for blocking contact are really a joke it seems that a RP can block contact more or less with impunity. If there were significant punishment for not allowing contact then it would cut down on the situation. I''d suggest that if contact is blocked then the full force of the law should be available to rectify the situation, don''t really know how far that should go, but stopping maintenance and benefits until contact is restored would focus the minds of RPs, maybe the threat of prison would work better, or at an extream giving residence to the NRP.
A rigid 50:50 arrangment is not at all easy to achieve and requires huge amounts of co-operation, and for some parents work paterns may simply make this impossible. Ultimatly it is better if the courts can be avoided all together so that the parents agree to their own arrangment, which ultimatly is going to be better for the children anyway.
As has already been said, 50:50 is difficult to do but I can attest that it can work if the circumstances are right.
I feel it should, at least, be the starting point for parenting in all divorces (excepting obvious cases such as abuse of course), just as Scotland has for finances, with then other aspects (such as work patterns) being taken into consideration, to arrive at a final system agreeable to both.
Finally mediation to try and reach agreement should be mandatory before court, and court only allowed if the mediator agrees there is no way forward.