Who looks after the children?Joanna Craig
Recent statistics have revealed that not only in most families do both parents work, full or part time, but also more surprising the increasing number of families where the woman is the main breadwinner. We should not be surprised though it should perhaps lead us to question some other perceptions about who is or should be looking after the children.
When parents separate there is often a fear on the part of fathers that they will in some way “lose their children”, that if they go to Court the odds are stacked against them because the perception is that children always stay with their mothers.
But Judges do actually live in the real world, they and all the Court staff are part of the working population where it is normal for both parents to be juggling work and childcare. So when parents separate it is only logical that Courts will see that men and women may both work and both want to see their children. We have plenty of female Judges who may have a stay at home partner looking after their children. There really is no longer any automatic prejudice in favour of mothers except in the case of very small babies who may be physically dependant on their mother. It still happens though that the person, often the mother, who has the major child caring role considers that contact is their gift to dispense with as they decide. The Court’s view is that what is most important is what is in the child’s best interests. Not what either parent may want.
If we focus on what is in the best interests of the children, it is of course that the parents should not go to Court, should not argue about childcare but should resolve their differences through negotiation and compromise. This itself conveys valuable lessons to the children.
Fathers are often very fearful about losing contact which can make them over aggressive, anxious that they will lose their children forever. Perhaps if they were more reassured that the Court’s attitude is very much that children should spend time with both parents, a lot of the hostility could be avoided.
Historically children were very much the man’s property and women had no rights at all on separation or divorce. Then the approach was that children always stayed with their mother, possibly we now have a more sensible view which looks at the practical realities of daily life, the needs of the children and the importance of avoiding conflict.
For more information or to discuss further please contact Nicky Gough on 07711 527968 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.