Family Lawyer Karen Weiner explains why it is better for your children on divorce or separation to have a home with each parent.
In a recent case I acted for a father on an application to court for a Child Arrangements Order. A child arrangements order does what it says on the tin – it sets out the arrangements for children on divorce or separation. The father had regular weekly access with his son including over night. He also had regular holiday contact. So why make an application?
He wanted the court to recognise that the child had 2 homes one with his mother and one with his father and that both were equally important to the child. The mother had since the child’s birth considered herself to be the primary carer and that therefore the child’s home was with her. I am pleased to say he was successful.
But why is this so important. A recent study * of 150,000 children aged 12-15 found that 13% living with both parents had sleep problems. This rose to 14% when they split their time equally between parents and to 22% in those living with only one. It seems that children who live with just one parent following a divorce or separation suffer from more health problems such as headaches, stomach aches and feelings of tension than those whose parents share custody.
With shared custody, also known as shared residence or shared parenting your children split their time between each of you. This doesn’t have to be equal. That is not always practical if for example one of you goes out to work and the other doesn’t or only works part time. It does however recognise that both of you are equally as important and that your children have a home with each of you. For the children this means stability and security. They don’t have to choose between you or feel they are being disloyal if they spend more time with one of you than the other. They can enjoy a loving family life with both their parents which must be better for them.
There is currently no presumption of shared parenting in England & Wales. The courts put the interests of the child first and there will be some circumstances where it is not appropriate. However, the court will, other than in exceptional circumstances consider it to be in a child’s best interests to sustain a relationship with both parents. It is simply a question of how those arrangements work in practice. It is of course always better to try and reach agreement with your child’s mother or father than leave it to the court.
For advice on your particular situation call me, Karen Weiner on 01923 521003 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health