Norgrove rejects fathers groups plea for equal status

4 December 2012

Fathers rights campaigners had wanted the Norgrove Report to recommend that Dads roles in their children's lives after divorce would be treated with the same importance as Mums role. Mr Norgrove rejected calls to include a principle that children should have a "meaningful relationship" with both parents it this was felt that this would lead to lengthy legal battles to determine the meaning of the phrase, and its application in each case. Mr Norgrove also dismissed calls for parents to automatically share "custody" on an equal basis, having considered evidence from countries such as Australia where such a system is in place and is regarded as a failure. If you are considering starting a divorce, what will happen about the children? Gepp & Sons Family Law Team are here to help guide you through the law relating to children on divorce. We encourage parents to attempt to agree between themselves who will care for the children following divorce and how much time the children will spend with the absent parent. This approach is beneficial to the children in the long run. If the children can witness their parents setting aside their personal differences and putting forward a united front to work out solutions together, the children are likely to adjust to their new circumstances far more easily. Indeed, the courts expect parents to try to reach a consensus wherever they can and the courts will only step in and make orders about the children if the parents cannot agree. If there is a dispute, the court will apply the legal test known as the "welfare principle" which means their the court must determine what is in a particular child's best interests. This will not necessarily be an order sharing the care of the children between the parents equally. Although married parents automatically have joint parental responsibility for their children, which means, in principle that they have an equal right to have their say on important issues affecting their children's upbringing, this does not always translate to an equal role in the care of the children. Although there has been an upsurge in shared residence orders in recent years, these are still not the norm. If a court finds that both parents are equally capable of meeting their children's needs, the court can still award primary residence of the children to one parent, often the mother. Equally, Gepp & Sons has experience in successfully acting for fathers on cases including recent court proceedings which took three years to resolve and due to shortcomings on the part of the mother, the father was awarded residence of his three young children. If you would like further advice on this complex area of the law please contact the Family team on 01245 228106 or to make an appointment for a Free Initial Consultation. The above is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.