Ten Common Misconceptions about Family LawMyth no 9: Mum always ‘gets the children’

by Tanya Foster


Here at SNS, our specialist family law solicitors come across misunderstandings and expectations in our clients that do not correlate to the reality in divorce and separation in this country.


Sometimes that is good news for our client; sometimes it is not.


There is a very common assumption, we find, that on separation, the children will always end up with their mother; that if the parents could not agree on the arrangements for their children, the court would decide that the children should live with their mother. This is not necessarily the case at all. Every family is considered on the basis of its own unique factors.


In proceedings for the arrangements for children, the court is guided by the ‘welfare checklist’. This is a list taken from section 1 of the Children Act 1989 and sets out a common-sense list of priorities for the court to consider when it makes a decision in relation to children.


Section 1 of the Children Act requires the court to take into account the children’s wishes and feelings, their physical, emotional and educational needs, the effect on them of any change in their circumstances, their age, sex, background and any other relevant characteristics, any harm suffered by the child(ren) or that they are at risk of suffering, the capability of their parents to meet their needs, and the range of the powers available to the court.


It is the requirement to take into account the likely effect on children of any change in their circumstances, which can lead to a sense that they will end up living with their mother post-separation. But this is perhaps because within a relationship pre-separation, a mother often (but not always) spends more time engaged in the care of the children than their father.


These days though, we find far more families who share the care of their children more evenly between the parents, and who manage to find a workable pattern after separation. It is all the more important to protect those relationships during the process of the separation, so that they can continue to work as a team going forward. There is more and more support available to help families find their new pattern in a positive way, often without the court’s involvement.


In the vast majority of cases, children need quality relationships with both their parents. We have ourselves seen many cases where it is the father who spends more of the time caring for the children than the mother. What is best or the children is not led by preconceptions or expectations, but by what suits that particular and unique family.

Here at SNS Solicitors, we won’t tell you necessarily what you want to hear, but we will advise you on the law and guide you carefully and efficiently through the process. You can rely on us to outline your options, the opportunities to resolve things without going to court, and to listen to your needs and priorities.


If you wish to speak with one of our specialist solicitors in confidence please contact us on tel 01622 23 88 50, or by email at info@snslaw.co.uk. If you wish to speak with Tanya or Richard, our family law solicitors, you can email tanya@snslaw.co.uk or richard@snslaw.co.uk.

For information on supporting fathers in parenting post separation, see www.onlydads.org. For information on supporting mothers in parenting post separation, see www.onlymums.org.

Watch this space in three weeks time for Myth Number Ten.

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