There has long been a notion in the UK that a mother’s rights on divorce run roughshod over those of the father. However, with the right legal advice and a willingness to negotiate, contentious wrangling over child contact and other issues between divorcing mothers and fathers can be kept to a minimum and the children’s best interests will be maintained.
Healys’ divorce lawyers in Brighton and London have helped many fathers in their legal battles to maintain relationships with their children following divorce. It is the paramount responsibility of the court to ensure the welfare of any minors involved in divorce and, to this end, it will always encourage a child’s continued relationship with both parents as long as it is in the child’s best interests to do so.
In most cases, the court will look favourably on children arrangements which have been arranged independently and where agreement has been reached between the divorcing spouses on elements such as which parent has residency (lives with the children) and how much contact (visits and holidays etc) the non-resident parent will have. In such situations, where agreed arrangements are presented to the court, it will be unlikely to intervene unless it feels the situation will be detrimental to the welfare of the child.
When couples can’t agree
If spouses disagree about where children should live or how much contact the non-resident parent should have, it may be prudent to seek dispute resolution through means such as mediation before heading to the family court.
Mediation sessions can usually be arranged through divorce solicitors and, although the spouses usually attend the meetings on their own to discuss the situation, lawyers can be present in the final sessions to advise on proposals and to help draft any forthcoming agreement document.
It may be useful for fathers to meet with their divorce solicitor prior to any mediation meeting and before drafting a children arrangements agreement, so they can be assured of their rights of parental responsibility and rights to relationship with their children.
Building a relationship with children post-divorce
Although courts do not favour mothers or fathers in their abilities to provide care and emotional stability for their child, it must be remembered that judges will usually award residency to the most appropriate carer, and in the vast majority of cases this will be the mother. It is therefore beneficial for the father to think realistically about the type and amount of contact he wants before entering into negotiations with the mother.
It is important to remember, however, that contact arrangements for fathers are not set in stone and the best arrangements are usually those which are regular, consistent, but also flexible. When a child is young, routine is important, so if regular visits are agreed it is best for the child if these are maintained as much as possible. Plus, doorstep arguments over contact arrangements are likely to be distressing and unsettling for the child, so if dates and times need to be rearranged it is best to attempt to do this in a mutually respectful way and always in consultation with the child especially if they are of an age when they understand the notion of regular visits.
Act quickly in acrimonious divorce
If your divorce has become contentious or you believe your child’s mother is preventing you from seeing your children, it is vital that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Healys’ divorce solicitors in Brighton and London can help you if you are worried that your ex-wife may abduct your children or if she refuses to negotiate contact arrangements.
To talk to an experienced family lawyer today please call our Brighton office on 01273 685 888 or our London team can be contacted on 020 7822 4000.