When a couple decides to separate, one of the most important decisions to make is how much time each parent spends with the children. So, we asked Kaleel Anwar, Senior Solicitor from Stowe Family Law’s Manchester office to join us to look at how you can balance your working life with shared parenting.
“The term ‘custody’ is now redundant in law, despite it still appearing in the media, and instead more flexible, shared parenting solutions are preferred.
But there is still a lot of misconception about this area and I work with many clients who have made assumptions that their job, business or even gender will hinder their ability to co-parent.
Courts favour the mother
I frequently hear from clients that the law is “in favour of the mother”. This is simply not true.
There is absolutely no discrimination based on gender by the Courts when determining whether a mother or father would be better suited to caring for their children either during the school week or spending quality time with them during the weekends.
Your business vs your children
I have worked on several cases where my clients are of the view that being a business owner, which demands long working hours, is going to act to their detriment if they find themselves in the hands of the Court.
The reality is this is far from the truth. You do not need to choose between running a business or spending time with your children. In fact, the law is tailored to ensure parents can effectively co-parent and share the care.
Working hours will dictate which times and days’ work best for a parent to be responsible for their care. Today, most employers will take childcare into account and arrangements can be made to ensure parents can work the hours needed to fit their circumstances.
Owning your own business can increase your flexibility when deciding working hours, which in turn means that you are far more able to share the care of the children.
Shared parenting means that children have two homes where they can feel secure and continue to have a real family life with both parents.
As parents, you are in the best position to decide as to when your children spend time with both of you. Hopefully, a shared parenting schedule can be agreed on by negotiations between your solicitors or using meditation. However, if it cannot be resolved then court intervention may be necessary.
The Court can grant a shared care order allowing children to live and spend time with both parents. Useful to note here that a shared care order does not always mean that the time spent with each parent will be equal.
There has been a significant increase in the number of shared care orders granted by the courts over the past few years given the overwhelming evidence that having a healthy relationship with both parents is in the best interest for the children.
Many working parents utilise the help of their friends and family to ensure that they can balance their work requirements with time with their children, for example someone helping by collecting your children from school until you have finished a meeting. This support is invaluable and helps you to avoid becoming a “weekend parent”.
Every child, family and case are unique, so it is always advisable to obtain specialist advice in relation to your situation and your legal rights.”