Parents should have equal status by default
By default, both parents should have
equal status & rights & responsibilities, de jure and de facto.
There are 2 domains of discussion here, and both must be addressed. These
- The status of parents for purposes of residency & contact, and
other rights & responsibilities, determined by the family law system..
- The status of parents for purposes of responsibility for financial
support, determined by the child support system.
Many people confuse the 2 domains. This confusion is "helped"
by the misleading terminology used by the child support system. The terms
"parent with care" and "non resident parent"
appear to be terms used by a system concerned with residency & contact,
whereas in fact they are not. They are legal terms used by a financial
services organisation (the CSA) and their legal meaning is not the same
as the English meaning of those words. Their legal meanings are (respectively)
"person with the right to receive child support maintenance"
and "person with the responsibility to pay child support maintenance".
They are not discussed further on this page - other pages cater for the
status of parents within the financial support domain:
Use a symmetrical formula for shared-care
This page is concerned with the status of parents for purposes of residency
& contact, etc. In effect, it is concerned with all aspects of parental
rights & responsibilities other than financial support.
By default, both parents should have equal status & rights &
responsibilities, de jure and de facto.
This is not the same as saying that separated parents should care for
their children equal amounts of time, nor that they should contribute
equal amounts of money to the financial support of their children. Such
cases will probably continue to be unusual, although perhaps increasingly
less rare. But while the quantities may differ, the qualities
should, by default, be the same.
The statement above emphasises that this is to be achieved in practice,
not just in law. It is clear first that options for inequality
left open in law tend to be taken up, and second that signs of inequality
get picked up and amplified by others who don't understand, or perhaps
don't agree with, the original intentions.
Decisions made by the family law system affect not only the specific
factors they are aimed at (such as where the child lives much of the time),
but also have an impact "downstream". Other people & systems
interact with the earlier decision in ways that the legislators probably
The child support system has been bolted into a society where, typically,
fathers are discriminated against in the family law system, often being
(at best) parents with contact not parents with residence. This reduces
their practical rights towards bringing up the children. The child support
system then makes them responsible for the explicit element of financial
support for their children. The result is that instead of being seen as
a necessary balancing of rights & responsibilities, the child support
system is seen as part of a larger system which says:
- Mothers have the right to bring up children
- Fathers have the responsibility to pay for children
This web site is not the place to discuss the advantages & disadvantages
of shared-parenting. It is concerned with identifying how to design and
operate an effective child support system in the decades to come. The
latter will only happen if the social inequalities amplified by a child
support system are reduced or or preferably eliminated. The current stereotype
in the UK after separation is:
Lone Mother on Income Support with
+ Absent Father with significant income
The target paradigm is:
with balanced rights & responsibilities towards their children
Under current law, the simplest start is to make shared residence orders
available by default.
|Relationship to other
should be formally awarded to the children
||This is more loosely related. However,
it is intended to remind parents "child support is for the child,
not for one of you". Money typically still has to be paid from
one parent to the other (even with a symmetrical formula) but this
makes it clearer that it is not because of an adult's right to receive
money, but it is an adult's responsibility to administer the joint
sex discrimination from child support
||The current sex discrimination at
the "equal sharing" position obviously stops the formula
|Use a symmetrical
formula that treats both parents similarly
||It therefore follows that having
a symmetrical formula for the "responsibilities" part is
|Other pages in this web
||The terms parent with care
and non resident parent have no part in a future child
support & Shared Care - overview
||This article skims the surface -
the details are in the linked articles.
|Potential lobby groups
|Other relevant external
Law Act 1996
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Article 5. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures:
(a) To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men
and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices
and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea
of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or
on stereotyped roles for men and women;
(b) To ensure that family education includes a proper understanding
as a social function and the recognition of the common responsibility
of men and women in the upbringing and development of their children,
it being understood that the interest of the children is the primordial
consideration in all cases.
Article 16. 1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures
to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating
to marriage and family relations and in particular shall ensure,
on a basis of equality of men and women:
(c) The same rights and responsibilities during marriage and at
(d) The same rights and responsibilities as parents, irrespective
of their marital status, in matters relating to their children;
in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;
(f) The same rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship,
wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children, or similar institutions
where these concepts exist in national legislation; in all cases
the interests of the children shall be paramount;
on the Rights of the Child
States Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties
of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family
or community as provided for by local custom, legal guardians or
other persons legally responsible for the child, to provide, in
a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate
direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights
recognized in the present Convention.
1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall
have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality
and. as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his
or her parents.
1. States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated
from his or her parents against their will, except when competent
authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance
with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary
for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary
in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the
child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately
and a decision must be made as to the child's place of residence.
2. In any proceedings pursuant to paragraph 1 of the present article,
all interested parties shall be given an opportunity to participate
in the proceedings and make their views known.
3. States Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated
from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct
contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary
to the child's best interests. 4. Where such separation results
from any action initiated by a State Party, such as the detention,
imprisonment, exile, deportation or death (including death arising
from any cause while the person is in the custody of the State)
of one or both parents or of the child, that State Party shall,
upon request, provide the parents, the child or, if appropriate,
another member of the family with the essential information concerning
the whereabouts of the absent member(s) of the family unless the
provision of the information would be detrimental to the well-being
of the child. States Parties shall further ensure that the submission
of such a request shall of itself entail no adverse consequences
for the person(s) concerned.
2. A child whose parents reside in different States shall have the
right to maintain on a regular basis, save in exceptional circumstances
personal relations and direct contacts with both parents. Towards
that end and in accordance with the obligation of States Parties
under article 9, paragraph 1, States Parties shall respect the right
of the child and his or her parents to leave any country, including
their own, and to enter their own country. The right to leave any
country shall be subject only to such restrictions as are prescribed
by law and which are necessary to protect the national security,
public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the rights
and freedoms of others and are consistent with the other rights
recognized in the present Convention.
1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming
his or her own views the right to express those views freely in
all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given
due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the
opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings
affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative
or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural
rules of national law.
1. States Parties shall use their best efforts to ensure recognition
of the principle that both parents have common responsibilities
for the upbringing and development of the child. Parents or, as
the case may be, legal guardians, have the primary responsibility
for the upbringing and development of the child. The best interests
of the child will be their basic concern.
States Parties that recognize and/or permit the system of adoption
shall ensure that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount
consideration and they shall:
(a) Ensure that the adoption of a child is authorized only by competent
authorities who determine, in accordance with applicable law and
procedures and on the basis of all pertinent and reliable information,
that the adoption is permissible in view of the child's status concerning
parents, relatives and legal guardians and that, if required, the
persons concerned have given their informed consent to the adoption
on the basis of such counselling as may be necessary;