Retired appeal court judge Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss says parents who believe government plans to legislate in favour of shared parenting will mean equal access are being “ridiculous”.
In an episode of Channel 4 documentary Dispatches, to be broadcast tonight (January 14), the former president of the Family Division says:
“The problem about the phrase ‘shared parenting’ is the perception that parents have as to what it really means. I’ve heard one father who went into court saying, ‘Once this law is enforced, I will get half of the child’. Well that’s ridiculous. The child has to live in one place, so the duty of the court is to do what is best for the child.”
Equal access may not be practical or in the child’s best interests she says, according to a report in the Express.
“I think all parents should be sharing their children but that requires parents to be sensible, to co-operate and to look at what is best for the children.”
But in around five per cent of the cases which come before the family courts one or both parents are unwilling to take a reasonable approach “and the child suffers”, she adds.
The plans will see a new clause inserted into the Children Act 1989 which will
“…to presume that a child’s welfare will be furthered by the involvement of each of the child’s parents in his or her life, unless it can be shown that such involvement would not in fact further the child’s welfare.”
Baroness Butler-Sloss was the first female judge to be appointed to the Court of Appeal in 1988. Eleven years later she also became the first woman to serve as President of the Family Division of the High Court.of Justice.