Should shared parenting be a right?
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The Civil Partnership Act received Royal Assent on 18th November 2004. The purpose of the arguably long-overdue Act is to ensure that same-sex couples who choose to make a lasting and legal commitment to one another are afforded the same rights as
The government will propose amending the law to explicitly recognise the importance of children having a relationship with both parents after divorce or separation. If accepted, the rights of both parents to have contact with their children, known as ‘shared parenting’, would be enshrined in family law for the first time despite warnings from family law solicitors that the move may cause more disputes.
Records show that that following a separation, 90% of children reside with one of their parents and of these 12% live with their father. According to the government such statistics need to be corrected. In Australia however after ‘shared parenting’ rights were introduced a series of legal claims and counter-claims led to severe delays in child custody cases.
The need for new legislation has also been rejected by children’s charities such as the NSPCC who asserted that the importance of a relationship between children and both parents is a principle which is already recognised by the family law system. Amending family law to explicitly recognise an existing principle may cause greater confusion between separating parents, leading to an increase in disputes and the number of cases that end up in court. We will however have to wait to see what impact the proposed changes may have in practice.
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