Anne Marie Waters
March 25th 2020
When I was a law graduate, I spent a lot of time working around the courts of central London. Much of it was voluntary clerking and paralegal work and while it involved long waits on a regular basis, it was also a fascinating insight in what goes on in our society.
I worked with Victim Support and spent time in the criminal courts, and I worked for various family law firms and so also spent time in the family court system. Family law deals largely with divorce and its aftermath: division of assets and arrangements for children are the most common issues dealt with by family lawyers. It is in the arrangements for children specifically that an injustice in the system is revealed, and needs to be corrected.
If a family cannot agree amicably on arrangements for children post-divorce (or separation), the courts will step in and make these decisions instead. Both statutory and case law have established the methods by which the courts determine what is in the best interests of the child – the guiding principle in this area of family law.
Importantly, the law deems the best interests of the child to be served by causing as little disruption as possible in the child’s life. This will usually mean arrangements are reached that allow the child to remain in the family home, remain in school, and crucially, to live with their “primary carer”. This usually means the mother, who will often have a greater role in her child’s life, and therefore a greater advantage, not only in keeping full time custody of children, but in keeping the family home so that the child may live there.
If the child’s father has not been able to spend as much time with the child as the mother, because for example he works longer hours, it seems instinctively unfair to punish him for this.
There is a further more troubling element to this, and that is that mothers have the ability in practice to deliberately refuse access to children, and in doing so, force fathers in to long and expensive legal battles just to spend time with their own children. Courts often make orders for visitation etc. that are not adhered to, meaning fathers must go back to court again.
This situation can’t continue.
For Britain will conduct a full inquiry in to real or apparent parental injustices in the courts system, with a view to a complete overhaul. Immediately however, we will introduce the legal assumption of shared parenting (including clear instruction on the responsibilities of parents) as well rights for grandparents. Grandparents are often the best people to care for a child but face can protracted legal battles to do so.
We at For Britain believe in family and we believe in the place of fathers within that family. We must be fair at all times, and we must ensure that there are no automatic advantages to either parent.
Whilst the need for a child to live with their primary carer is understandable, it has opened a loophole that needs closing. Family law needs to be modernised and updated to equalise parenting and reflect the modern age.
We must bring fathers back in to families. We must celebrate families; mothers and fathers, and the wonderful job they do. But there’s a problem, and it has to fixed for the sake of fairness. For Britain will do just that.
Anne Marie Waters
VIDEO: Demanding fairness – Our family law policy