The UK Court of Appeal recently repealed a judgement stipulating that a divorced mother could return to her native Canada with her two children. To the untrained eye, this judgement may seem inconsequential, as UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph has pointed out, however, this is by no means the case.
Generally, following a divorce, courts have allowed the resident parent – generally the mother – to relocate following a request on the basis that refusal would have a detrimental emotional impact on said parent which would, in turn, have a negative effect on the parent’s children. The judge that chaired the father’s appeal in the aforementioned hearing declared, however, that preventing the child from seeing her father – with whom she stayed two nights each week – would have a detrimental effect on the psychological wellbeing of the child that outweighed the negative effects refusing the application could have on the child’s mother.
This particular precedent – considering that experts declared that regular contact with both parents was highly beneficial to children of divorce some time ago – is clearly long overdue. Ultimately, what is being indicated here is that, provided a non-resident parent makes the effort to have regular contact with their children, then UK courts are far less likely to allow the resident parent to relocate to foreign climes and take their children with them.
Whilst this ruling is highly significant in itself, it is important to look beyond the effects it will have on parents that wish to relocate. Those who fail to look beyond the immediate and apparent ramifications of this judgement will, in fact, miss its most significant implication: UK courts are moving towards parity when addressing family matters.
For quite some time now, the family courts have tended to favour mothers when passing judgement on issues concerning residence on the presumption that the child was likely to share a stronger bond with this parent. Fathers, as a result, were rarely awarded residency of children and were instead afforded the prospect of seeing their child every other weekend or one night a week. These arrangements have been met by criticism and understandably so.
Now it would appear that these arrangements are set to change and our family courts will now be acting in a fairer manner – a change for the better, surely.