Many fathers believe that they are going to be at a disadvantage when it comes to how courts award residence orders. Family law experts more often than not insist that there is no ‘anti-Dad’ bias in our legal system. Parents start off on an equal footing. A court will do everything it can to make a decision in the child’s ‘best interests’ (it is required to do so under the Children Act 1989).In other words, a court will take into account all the circumstances, including the feelings of the child and whether they are old enough to understand what is going on.
The court does often find that a baby or a young child will be more appropriately cared for primarily by its mother. However, many fathers are equally capable of caring for their children from an early age and some mothers do not provide the best care. As children grow older, the balance in the mother’s favour becomes less pronounced. It might also be relevant that a mother might be available for full-time care.
Thanks very much to Punam Denley, a partner at the International Family Law Group LLP for reviewing and to David Hodson, also partner at the International Family Law Group LLP, who reviewed an earlier version which appeared in A Parent’s Guide to the Law by Jon Robins (LawPack , 2009). Stephen Lawson, a litigation partner at Forshaws Davies Ridgway LLP assisted with the section on the CSA.