Recent publicity of the government’s proposals to enshrine in law the importance of children having a relationship with both parents post separation has resulted in controversy.  This controversy has, in my view, deflected from a debate which is fundamentally important in relation to children’s welfare after a divorce.  

Up and down the country there are many cases where fathers win a court order allowing them contact with their children however they often find it is still impossible as courts do little to ensure that the other parent complies. The new proposals are supposed to make it clear that both parents are equally important in a child’s life.

Despite the change in legislation, it is hugely difficult for a judge to say that a mother thwarting a court order should spend a few days in prison or be fined.  No-one wants to send mothers to prison or impose more financial constraints on a family.  Nor do courts want to take children away from their mothers and place them with their fathers as an antidote to alienation.  By the time children are alienated from their fathers, it may be more emotionally abusive to uproot them from their primary home. 

Where children are lucky enough to have two parents, they should not be stopped from loving and seeing them.  That has to be their inalienable right, with the exception of abusive or violent parents.

Most people recognise that an on-going relationship with both parents is fundamental to the healthy development of a child.  It is the few who don’t that cause untold problems.

Will a law change this? I don’t think so.  We need to change attitudes and the way the courts deal with non-compliance. Something needs to be done to ensure that spending proper time with each parent is what actually happens