A psychologist’s view of post-separation shared parenting


An interesting article by Dr. Linda Nielsen, professor of Adolescent and Educational Psychology.

The article provides academic insight into shared parenting legislation and outcomes. Dr Nielson comments that empirical evidence on post-separation shared parenting is not understood or known by many involved in deciding outcomes for children in the United States. Is it so different in the UK?

Why aren’t shared living arrangements the norm when child arrangements orders are made? Section 7 of the draft child arrangements order (CAP04) specifically allows for this…

Read the article

As Dr Nielsen says, there is a plethora of research which supports shared parenting. Some of that research can be downloaded from The Custody Minefield site:

Shared Parenting Research

Where have all the parents gone?


The Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service announced this week that litigants-in-person “have not actually increased the court budget or the demands on the court”.  Some have suggested more unrepresented people have not lengthened proceedings as a whole.

I thought I’d have a look at the actual statistics and contemplate what that means for child welfare. Continue reading Where have all the parents gone?

Alienation, Strategies and Pessimism


There are strategies which aid in successful resolution of cases involving implacable hostility and children being cognitively manipulated to oppose contact (commonly referred to as parental alienation). While there is case law to support these strategies, they’re not rocket science (but just because they’re common-sense doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes need spelling out): Continue reading Alienation, Strategies and Pessimism

New Guides: Supporting Social Work in the Courts


Following approaches by members of the Social Work profession, we are in the process of developing a range of guides and tools to support social workers in their report writing and court work.

These guides are primarily intended to support social workers employed by Local Authorities, albeit may interest Independent Social Workers and others.

Section 7 Reporting

While some Local Authorities provide in-depth guidance for their staff, it became apparent others provide little or no support in the area of case analysis, report writing and court attendance and particularly in the area of Section 7 reporting in private family law proceedings. When Local Authorities have previously been involved with families who become involved in private family law proceedings, the Local Authority rather than CAFCASS or the Welsh Service may be asked to produce a Section 7 Welfare Report. Unlike public family law proceedings, the reporting officer will not be legally represented and may struggle to get advice from the council’s solicitor. Continue reading New Guides: Supporting Social Work in the Courts

Failures in Judicial Case Allocation and Gatekeeping


We have seen a number of cases recently where the courts are failing to follow rules in relation to case allocation. Some of the worst examples include:

  • leave to remove cases (where one parent seeks to remove the children abroad).
  • complex cases previously heard in senior courts ending up heard by magistrates who fail to examine case history prior to varying the existing orders (which came before them for enforcement).

In short, the wrong level of judge is hearing cases in breach of court rules and guidance. If your case is allocated to the wrong level of judge, ask for it to be moved to the right level by writing into the court. We suggest writing into the court where the application was made, and addressing your letter to the Designated Family Judge (DFJ) responsible for Gatekeeping and Case Allocation. If you can, take the letter into court, hand it into the court administration department and ask for a receipt to confirm delivery. After this, if matters continue to be heard at the wrong level, write a position statement including a request for the case to be transferred and deliver this to court two days before the next hearing. Raise the matter orally at the hearing and take a copy of that position statement and the letter sent to the DFJ into court with you.

Case outcomes can be put at risk when too junior a judge hears them. This is why the rules exist to ensure more complex cases are heard by more experienced judiciary. In this article, we remind people of how cases should be allocated and the rules which govern this. Please reference the guidance we cite when asking that the court move proceedings to the correct level of judge.

Continue reading Failures in Judicial Case Allocation and Gatekeeping

Survey for male victims of domestic violence – Please take part


We’ve been asked to share details of a survey on for male victims of domestic violence and we’d be very grateful if you’d take part (your responses will be anonymous):

Evidencing Domestic Violence: Men, Legal Aid and family disputes Continue reading Survey for male victims of domestic violence – Please take part

New Case Law: Leave to Remove – Gender and Payne – Essential Reading


In August, Lord Justice Ryder handed down judgment in a case which involved leave to remove. Continue reading New Case Law: Leave to Remove – Gender and Payne – Essential Reading

Guide Update – Legal Parents and Parental Responsibility


We’ve just published a new update to our guide on legal parents and parental responsibility.

Within the new guide, we include information relevant to LGBT parents and step-parents, as well as discussing the different legal statuses related to being a parent, how these statuses are acquired, and important considerations.

To read the guide, click on the link below:

Legal Parents and Parental Responsibility

New Site Area – Research Supporting Shared Parenting


On occasion during family law proceedings and when campaigning, you come across theories and beliefs which are contradicted by a wide body of research.

Some hold a view that while the quality of contact is important for children, the quantity is unimportant. Others have argued that overnights for very young children away from a primary attachment figure is harmful. More daft are theories it harms brain development. Some point to reform in Australia and the introduction of a presumption in shared parenting having been unsuccessful. Something links these beliefs… they’re misinformed and/or just plain wrong.

Today we launch a new section to our site – Shared Parenting Research.

When we argued for the reform of relocation related law, we used child welfare related research to underpin our arguments. Children do best when subject to post-separation shared care arrangements. This doesn’t require a mathematical 50/50 division of time (that’s equal parenting time… the two are different), but it does require the substantial involvement of both parents in the child’s life, and the child having substantial physical time in the care of both parents.

Children’s educational and social development, mental health and physical health are best supported by post-separation shared parenting. The opposite can be harmful! We don’t expect you to take our word for it though… read the research!

New Case Law: Successful appeal of refusal of supervised contact


 Re S (A Child) [2015] EWCA Civ 689

The father sought an order for direct supervised contact but this was refused. The principle part of the appeal related to the judgment having departed from the CAFCASS recommendation of supervised contact and the lack of reasoning given to explain why. The father’s appeal was successful and the matter was referred back for rehearing. Continue reading New Case Law: Successful appeal of refusal of supervised contact