Family Law Myths: The wife automatically gets the children following a divorce
When couples with children decide to divorce they often imagine that they will automatically become embroiled in raging court battles over custody. Fathers may assume they have no hope of any meaningful relationship with their children after the split and mothers can feel defensive as they attempt to maintain stability for the family during a period of immense change.
However, these days family law judges would much rather keep any discussions about children as far away from the courtroom as possible and prefer to use the term ‘residence' instead of
‘custody’ and talk about both parents having "parental responsibility".
Having parental responsibility means you have a say in important decisions about the life of your child. The birth mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child, as does a father who is married to the mother of the child.
Unmarried fathers who are named on the birth certificate of a child born after December 2003 also have automatic parental responsibility.
The court focuses on the best interests of the children and in most cases this means seeing both parents as much as possible. Clearly, if there is any concern about the safety of a child then the court will consider this when deciding contact and a parent who believes there is a threat of violence or abduction should make this known to a solicitor immediately.
When it comes to deciding where the children will live, many factors are taken into consideration and nothing in the law states that it is in a child’s best interests to live with their mother and not their father. Family judges prefer parents to discuss living arrangements and contact between themselves, with advice and support from their respective lawyers, so that an amicable solution can be found which both parties have agreed on.
Many parents worry that their wishes will be disputed or overridden by the other party. By seeking legal advice before discussions begin they will be fully prepared for any potential hurdles. Ongoing communication with a family lawyer throughout the process makes it easier to understand any proposals that are put forward and whether these are acceptable.
Emotions can run high following separation and discussions about where children will live and when they will be able to see each parent are often highly charged.
Compromise will be needed to come to an agreement that provides the best outcome for the child. One motivating factor for any couple struggling to agree arrangements for children is that by doing so they will avoid the need for intervention from a family judge who may make a ruling that is even less acceptable to them.
A good family lawyer will do everything possible to ensure both parties remain focussed on the long term interests of the children. As a member of Resolution, a group of family
lawyers committed to a constructive and non-confrontational approach to divorce, I am committed to working with families to ensure the children’s needs remain paramount at all times. This includes avoiding language that could be inflammatory, considering the long term implications of anything agreed and keeping issues relating to children separate from those involving finances.
To find out more about parental responsibility, contact and any other issues related to parents, grandparents, children and divorce contact me on 01423 594 680 or email email@example.com.