Our thanks to Nigel for this:
The sorry tale of the watering down and eventually getting rid of the presumption of “shared care” . As with many such lobbying groups the title of the group “The Shared Parenting Consortium” was in fact the opposite of their aims. Supported by Butler Sloss in the Lords the eventual 2014 Family Law Act had in fact simply made no legal change to the supposed paramount needs of the child (as we know usually defined by the mother). In the debates and lobbying much was made of pretty flimsy “evidence” from Australia that in a few cases the legal presumption in their statute might have put a child in danger.
In fact the Cameron Government had never promised more than the legislation would follow the recommendations of the family law review which simply wanted to state that children should have the right to contact with both parents to try to address the widespread flouting of contact orders. It never said “equal” and also always said there may be exceptions due to risk. However even the idea that there was a statement that might make parents believe they had some right and responsibility to cooperate in sharing care for the welfare of the child/ren was too much for the usual suspects lobby.
Given that there was in fact little actual legislative change, just a statement of the intention to achieve a shared result between parents. The huge battle to change this made little sense except to scupper even the idea. Indeed Lady Butler Sloss, ironically in an interview for FNF, explicitly said she opposed it because lower courts might be more likely to make shared care orders if they believed this was parliament’s intention! Which of course was precisely the point!
The general debate at the time in the press was positive and I have no doubt that “the public” had no idea that legislation did not get passed as was planned. As you say the general public and those families dealing with the pitfalls of the family courts, specially the inability to prevent flouting of court mandated contact orders will know only too well examples of the courts unfairness and impotence even when flouted by mothers. Of course the related issue is “parental alienation” battled so hard to be excluded from the Domestic Abuse Act.
Working as I do in an industry full of women “of a certain age” I’m pretty familiar with conversations about the “games” played by ex daughters in law /partners on their sons and grandchildren.
The story of “shared parenting” is very much about the way a political elite cleverly intervenes to scupper things the man and woman in the street think is fair. In this case under the guise of actually being a “Shared Parenting Consortuim” . I’m sure many of the Conservative and other MPs who actually supported the idea didn’t really grasp that the consortium was doing the reverse of its title.
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