Proposals under consideration by the Coalition government could see divorced fathers receive the same legal rights as mothers over the amount of contact with children in divorce settlements.
The government is expected to confirm its plans later in January, and the change could see Courts given a legal duty to ensure equality for divorcing fathers and mothers, as family lawyer Fiona O’Sullivan, a Partner at Midlands firm Challinors, explains:
“The Coalition is proposing to amend the law to ensure Courts have an obligation to make sure fathers and mothers have equal contact with children following divorce.
“According to the Office for National Statistics, one in three, or 3.8 million, children live without their natural father.
“Children’s minister Tim Loughton said the government’s vision is ‘to establish that under normal circumstances, a child will have a relationship with both parents, regardless of their relationship with each other.’”
Fiona warns that negotiations over contact to children following a relationship breakdown must begin as early as possible: “For people not usually involved in family law, they should appreciate that the starting point in every case of relationship breakdown is for professionals acting for both parties to encourage mothers and fathers to ensure continuity of children’s relationships with both their parents, especially for the parent who is not living with the child every day.”