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Is There A Gender Bias In Childcare Cases

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A recent study has shown that men are treated fairly when trying to get access to their children in family courts, and are ‘overwhelmingly successful’ in getting contact applications approved.

The joint report by the University of Warwick and the University of Reading of cases since 2011 found that both men and women have similar success rates in court.  Transfers of sole residence, although rare, were ‘disproportionately’ likely to be transfers from the mother to the father.

Commenting on the findings, Stacy Fox, Head of Childcare at Pearson Solicitors said:  “There has always been a presumption that the court favour’s mothers.  This is because despite society changing and modernising the majority of children following a separation live with their mother.  If there are then difficulties with contact it is the father who makes an application to the court, and he can often feel as if he is having to prove himself in order to see his children.  However, my experience has never been that the courts favour mothers.

“Added to this are the changes in legal aid which prevent the vast majority of fathers from being able to obtain legal aid to make an application to the court, as well as the lack of support groups campaigning on their behalf, unlike women e.g. Women’s Aid and other such groups,” she added.

Stacy added that the primary concern should always be the child in these cases.

“Advice before court proceedings can assist to alley these fears and focus on the key issues so that the needs of the children and their right to have a relationship with both parents become the prime issue - rather than mother v father which unfortunately seems to be the case in so many cases,” she said.

Dr Maebh Harding, from the University of Warwick and the co-author of the report, commented: ‘Whilst it’s true that mothers were usually the primary care giver in contact applications, this was simply a reflection of the social reality that women are more likely to take on the role after a relationship breakdown.

‘But there was actually no indication of any bias towards mothers over fathers by the courts.’

For advice on childcare issues and proceedings contact or call Stacy on 0161 785 3500

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

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