18th January 2013
Sharing mum and dad
According to Channel 4, one in three children in the UK today grow up in a home with only one parent. In its recent Dispatches programme entitled “Sharing mum and dad” it looked at whether we are doing what’s best for the children of separated parents.
It followed presenter Tim Lovejoy, a divorced father of two, as he investigated the current situation surrounding shared parenting following divorce or separation. He explored the psychological effects of parental separation on children and talked to teenagers about their personal experiences.
The programme also investigated the roles of mums and dads today, asking whether current legislation in this area is up-to-date with the way modern families operate and explored different ways of sharing parenting post-separation.
Head of family law at Cartwright King points out that it is generally accepted that children are more settled and well rounded if they can spend enough time with both parents — warts and all — but sorting this out can sometimes be tricky and difficult.
When it comes to access arrangements, clearly every case varies depending on the location of both parents and children’s ages and, in the case of older children, their wishes but regardless of the circumstances it remains the right of the child to be in contact with each parent.
If parents live a long way from each other regular times for FaceTime and Skype can be organised as well as old fashioned phone calls. This is particularly the case when children live abroad. A framework for actual arrangements can also be negotiated.
Where parents cannot negotiate and agree arrangements, then the courts can be involved and they are proactive in defining FaceTime as well as enforcing the arrangements.
In addition the concept of a shared residence order is now more common in the court which defines the time that the child resides with each parent. Cartwright King works with parents to help them arrive at agreements. The firm got actively involved whilst the programme was on air via Twitter.