Who cares for the children?Joanna Craig
Whenever parties separate and there are children, then a decision has to be made as to whom the children are going to live with. Do they stay mainly with one parent and have contact with the other or is there some sort of shared parenting arrangement whereby, as far as possible, the children spend equal time with both parents? Is this a good idea? Is it a good idea for the parents but not for the children? How do families best manage the care of their children? Who cares for the children?
Very often both parents want to be fully involved with their children’s lives but face the practical difficulty that really the children can only live with one parent which means contact with the other can often be intermittent, alternate weekends and a few days during the week. Is this enough to maintain proper contact and a good relationship with your child or children?
Lots of fathers fear losing their children if they separate from the child’s mother. But equally mothers too fear losing their children in some way. Even if the children live mainly with the mother, there will be weekends when they will be with their father who may have a new partner and possibly even a new family. Separation can cause pain all round.
There has been a lobby suggesting that if the time the children spent with both parents was equal this would necessarily be the best in all cases. This highlights the fact that this presumption actually risks subordinating a child’s best interest to the parents’ expectations of ‘equal’ rights. It can be hard when parents separate to decide what is best for the children as opposed to what is the best for them, the parents. Do children really want to spend half the time with one parent and half the time with the other with all the practical difficulties involved in changing from one house to another?
Sometimes this can be the best arrangement, particularly if the parents live near to each other and get on well. But if the parents do not get on well and cannot see each other without arguing then going constantly backwards and forwards creates a lot of tension.
Obviously it is best if that tension can be avoided or dissipated altogether as both parents and children learn to move on and deal with their new situation.
All that can be said really is that there should be no hard and fast ‘rule’. It is not the case the children automatically stay with their mother: it is the case that both mums and dads need to look at what is actually best for their children and most of all try and have a good relationship with each other, even though you have separated, to ensure that the time the children spend with both of you is good.
For more information or to discuss further please contact Nicky Gough on 07711 527968 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.