Men are as likely to have a contact application approved by a family court as women according to a new study by the University of Warwick and the University of Reading.
The study, which has just been released, analysed nearly 200 custody cases from 2011 and concluded that applications by fathers were “overwhelmingly successful”.
This contradicts popular perception that fathers were at a disadvantage in family courts. It was reported last month that a US-style men-only law firm was opening to the UK to address this perceived issue.
The study found that mothers are more likely to become the primary carer in contact applications simply because they are more likely to be in that role when a relationship ends, but that courts did not favour mothers over fathers.
Dr Maebh Harding, one of the report’s authors found that more residence orders are made for mothers, but that “this was because a large number of such orders were made for mothers as respondents in cases where the father sought contact.”
The report concluded most parents resolve their case outside of court and that family courts are becoming a last resort, likely because of legal aid cuts. Dr Harding points out that “funding is still available for mediated resolution.”
Due to lack of access to legal aid there are concerns that some parents will agree to contact arrangements that don’t take account of risk factors. The report authors found four cases in the study cohort where there were serious welfare issues for the children involved.
The full study can be read here
Image by Tony Guyton via Flickr