22 September 2015
Are Fathers’ Rights Taking the Lead in Children Disputes?
A recent study conducted by the University of Warwick and the University of Reading has found that men are just as likely as women to have an application for contact with their child approved by the court.
As a city family lawyer, I am often approached by working professional male clients who seem to immediately assume that the courts will be taking ‘the mother’s side’, as opposed to theirs. From my experience and from this study we can see that is clearly not the case.
The study reviewed 200 custody cases from 2011 and determined that applications by fathers not only had favourable results but were “overwhelmingly successful”.
It is about time the perception that women are more likely to have an application for contact with their child approved by the court is brought to an end. Men should be able to walk into a family court, knowing that they will not be indirectly discriminated against on the basis of their sex, or simply on the basis that ‘the mother knows best.’
The study shows that mothers are significantly more likely to be supported by the courts in being the primary carers for children. This is due to them being in a situation where they are in the role of primary carer when at the end of the relationship. However, courts do not prioritise mother’s requests over that of fathers. In the UK, men have an equal right to see their children, to spend time with them and to be involved in their day to day care.
The study also found that there was an increasing pattern of resolving parental disputes out of court and that the family courts are becoming a ‘last resort’. This matches the advice I give my clients in cases involving arrangements for children, often referred to as child custody, which is to try and deal with matters amicably without the need for stressful litigation.
This study provides good news for fathers who have to fight to have regular contact with their children via litigation. The study will be reassuring to the men out there who have been forced to make an application to the court to see their children.
Kaleel Anwar is a Family Law Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
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