EXTRACTED FROM A STATEMENT SEEKING A SHARED RESIDENCE ORDER


Reasons / advantages for Shared Residence

1.      Shared residence has many advantages.  This section will detail these benefits to the children:

The Continuation of family life for the children.

2.      Shared Residence ensures the continuation of family life for XXXX and XXXX, with the advantage of nurture and meaningful and lasting relationships with both parents rather than just one and visits to the other.
.
4.      They have always been the centres of both parents and extending family's world.  Both parents have been very hands on in the children's upbringing, with both paying an important role in their upbringing.  They both can be considered "main carers" as neither did more or is more important than the other.

5.      This benefit is also referenced on Page 2 of the LCD Parenting plan that states children

       "Need to feel involved in planning for their future"
       "Should be helped to maintain the best possible relationship with both parents"
       "Need love and care given in a consistent and predictable way"
       "Should be helped to maintain the best possible relationship with both parents"

6.      I fully believe that an order of Shared Residence would ensure that this continued.

Reassurance that the children still have two parents

7.      Shared Residence will reassure XXXXX and XXXXX that they have two parents, and although they live in separate places, the children definitely have a home with each of them.  This is such a very important benefit to the children.  Children need to feel at home with both parents and their "new families". The result of divorce often leads to "new relationships" and possibly "new siblings".  It is important that the children are involved and feel part of these family units, thus preventing them from feeling left out or replaced and also strengthens the continuation of the family life.

9.      Children do have toys and clothes that they wish to keep at one home with one parent and others to be kept at the other parent's.  An important issue regarding the continuation of maintaining relationships between children and their parents is overnight stay.  This ideally should be in that parent's family environment (home).

10.     Currently, situation, I live in the former matrimonial home with my wife XXXXX.  XXXX and XXXX still have bedrooms there, containing many of their toys, "nick nacks" and precious things and will always do so.

11.     XXXX and XXXX are two very wonderful children.  They have accepted and been accepted into my new family and I am so thankful for that.  They enjoy being with and visiting my wife's family, who live in XXXX.  XXXX has recently asked to spend some time with "XXXX" and "XXXXX" in the summer holiday.

12.     They are also both very close to my mother and father, (picture to be inserted)

13.     And also their Aunt XXXXX, Uncle XXXXX and cousins XXXXX and XXXX.

16.     This benefit also fulfils the following considerations referenced on Page 2 of the LCD Parenting plan that states children

       "Benefits from stability - in relationships with family and friends, in living environment, in school, in clubs and activities""
       "Need to know their family history, origins and relationships in order to have a clear sense of belonging"
       "Usually want to keep in touch with their wider family (brothers and sisters, stepfamily, aunts, grandparents, etc) and family friends"

17.     In addition on page 3, it is stated that

       "Overnight stays, where possible, are important in allowing the parent and child to experience ordinary daily routines together"

Confirms that both parents are "caring"

18.     Shared Residence will confirm to the children and all others that the both parents are "caring" and dispel the notion that only one parent is "caring" and that the other is "errant" or "absent"

19.     This is important as I have been in the position whereXXXX's family has not seen me as important and disregarded my concerns over the children. It will also reiterate to others that we are equal.  Other parents have said "I will speak toXXXXX's mother" and have totally ignored me.

20.     Situations have occurred where XXXXX undermines my role as the children's parent.

Spreads the burden of discipline

21.     Shared Residency ensures that one parent is not unfairly burdened with the responsibility of discipline whilst the other is relegated to (or margined as) the fun or contact parent

22.     It is very important for the children that both parents are seen to be involved in their upbringing, this includes:

       Taking the children to school
       Picking them up from school
       After school activities
       Doing homework
       Caring for them
       Reading, settling them down for bed
       Having friends round for tea

23.     This supports the children, such that they know that both parents are involved and caring for them.  It also provides support for the other parent.

24.     This benefit is also supported by the statement on Page 2 of the LCD Parenting plan which says that children

       "Benefit from stability - in relationships with family and friends, in living environment, in school, in clubs and activities"
       "Need love and care given in a consistent and predictable way"

Continuation of relationships between children and their parents

25.     Shared Residency provides the opportunity for children and parents to develop meaningful and lasting relationships - in place of the artificiality and frustrations of contact, visits and days out.

26.     The consistency of family environments provides the children with the structure of family life.  It is this family life that gives the children the confidence and development.  Shared Residency provides the platform for children to continue to build the important lasting relationships with their mothers and fathers.

27.     Both parents play important parts in the development of children. I will detail this fully later in this document under "A Fathers Role " and  "A Mothers Role".  Basically, research has identified that Mothers provide the stability and Fathers encourage growth'.

28.     This is also referenced on Page 2 of the LCD Parenting plan that states children

       "Benefits from stability - in relationships with family and friends, in living environment, in school, in clubs and activities""
       "Need to know their family history, origins and relationships in order to have a clear sense of belonging"
       "Usually want to keep in touch with their wider family (brothers and sisters, stepfamily, aunts, grandparents, etc) and family friends"

Provide Parents with the belief that they have a role as a parent

29.     Shared Residency affirms the parents in their belief that they both have an ongoing role in their child's life.

30.     From a parent's perspective this is very important. For many years it has been widely accepted by academic commentators and experts that over 40% of children sadly lose contact with their Non Resident Parent within 2 years.

31.     In addition, it is sadly known that the parent with sole residency does tend to make decisions without consultation with the non-resident parent.

32.     This is a point that was conceded by the President of the Family Division, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss.

"A Shared Residence Order (SRO) can be described as a legal framework that BOTH parents have an EQUAL say in the children's well being.   A Residence Order, residence will be given to one parent and contact times will be given to the non-resident parent. This allows the parent that has it, to basically make all the parenting decisions, what ever the non resident parent views."

33.     In XXXXX and XXXXX's eyes this has occurred many times as the have been concerned that their mother would be cross with me over incidents.

Promotes equality with Schools, Doctors, etc

34.     Shared Residency places both parents on an equal footing with schools, doctors and the world at large - who might otherwise only want to deal with the residential parent

35.     This is an important point.  It is imperative that both parents contribute and are involved in the children's health and educational upbringing.

36.     I have been in the position where after asking a question regarding XXXXX's health the Doctor informed me that he was unable to discuss XXXX's health, yet I am his father and have parental responsibility.

37.     At XXXX and XXXXX's school things have not been too bad, however I do not get sent all the information regarding the children and when they are sent to their mother I am either not told or told at a very late date. To help the situation I speak regularly with the teachers and reception staff, I have provided them with a number of SAEs.

38.     More recently, XXX attended XXXXXX with his school for a few days.  He had a great time, however he had an accident and got Mosquito repellent in his eyes and was taken quite correctly by the teachers to casualty.  His mother contacted me at 10 at night.  I went to casualty to meet him there.  He was fine and had his eyes rinsed and he came home with me, stayed the night and I returned him back to camp the next day.  The problem was that the teachers did not have any information on the contact form for me.  XXXXX had not given them the information and yet I had already told them on the first day when dropping off XXXX.  For information I was at the hospital his mother wasn't and XXXXX was upset and that we both should have been there.

Reassures the children

39.     Shared Residence confirms that no matter what; each parent wants to, and is able to, provide a home for their child

40.     This strengthens and confirms to the children that both parents love and want the children.

41.     This is very important for both children and on Page 2 of the LCD Parenting plan it states that children:

       "Benefits from stability - in relationships with family and friends, in living environment, in school, in clubs and activities""
       "Need love and care given in a consistent and predictable way"

42.     Both XXXXs and XXXXX's mother and I are in the enviable position to provide two homes for them. They deserve what is best for them.  They need a home with their mother in her new family environment and one with me with my new family environment.

43.     This benefit promotes to the world that both these parents will provide for XXXX and XXXXX.

Reassures the children that they will always have a home

44.     Shared Residency reassures the child that in the event of one parents dying he / she still has a home to go to

45.     This is most probably the most important benefit of Shared Residency.

46.     Without such an order, if one parent dies, the child would not automatically go to live with the other parent, but would be left with whomever they were living with at the time or handed over to a guardian - a poor substitute for a natural parent.

47.     In this case, XXXX and XXXX live with their mother and her boyfriend, Mr XXXXX.  If in the sad situation anything ever happened to their mother is it correct that the children stay with her boyfriend or in fact anyone that she decides in her will?    This would result in me having to apply for their residency.

48.     The children and each parent need to know that in the sad and unwanted instance of a parent dying that the other will be responsible for the children and that they will be loved and cherished.

Well Being of the Children

49.     Children whose parents share parenting actually do better than
children living with just one parent. Research shows clearly that the
children who best survive their parents break-up are those maintaining
significant and positive relationships with both parents.

50.     Research on adolescents in Northern California, showed that those
in a shared parenting situation (four nights or more with each parent
every two weeks) had higher levels of satisfaction, than those with only
one parent.

51.     It also showed that shared parenting could be successful even with

high conflict between parents since it allowed children to keep good
relations with both parents.

The need for stability

52.     It has long been identified that a child has a need for stability
in their daily life in order to promote their development. This has often
been adapted to assume that after divorce the child will have geographic
stability with only have one house, one toothbrush and one primary parent.
 It is
argued that a child cannot successfully cope with the regular and frequent

experience of visiting their other parent.

53.     This argument is plainly false. Children need predictability
rather than geographic stability - after all, intact families expect their
children to cope with child
minders, play groups, baby sitters and staying overnight with grandparents

and friends.

54.     What is so different about maintaining the stability of a
continuing and loving relationship with both parents - something, which
clearly cannot be achieved in a few hours a month?

55.     As long as children know what is going on, they can cope with a
wide range of situations.

56.     XXXX and XXXX were taken from their "Home", the home that they
have known for most of their lives.  Their bedrooms are still there with
toys and familiar items.  They have become used to the fact that they have

a bedroom at my home and one at their mother's home.

57.     They have got used to staying and spending time at both addresses
with each parent.  Situations have arisen such, as XXXXX's need to sleep
with her comfort blanket, a blanket that she has had since being born.

58.     This was not a problem that XXXX needed to resolve but an issue
that needed to be resolved by her parents.  XXXX's Mother's instinct was
to make this in to a problem by using it as a reason for XXXXX not staying

as "the blanket needed to be taken between each home".

59.     My solution was to take XXXX to "Mothercare" and allow her to
choose another one. I then asked her to sleep with that one as well for a
month.  I then asked her to choose one to stay at Mummy's and one to stay
at Dads.  XXXXXX chose and now there is no problem at all.

60.     The stability after divorce comes from the continuation of a
relationship with each parent and it is this that is referred to by the
statement on Page 2 of the LCD parental Plan

       "Benefit from stability ? in relationships with family and
friends, in
living environments, in school, in clubs and activities"
       "Should be helped to maintain the best possible relationship with
both
parents"

61.     And on Page 3

       "Overnight stays, where possible, are important in allowing the
parent and
child to experience ordinary daily routines together"

62.     The stability is the continuation of parental support.

Two parents caring for them
63.     It is frequently claimed that children (especially young ones)
need to be brought up by their mothers. This argument comes mainly from
Bowlby's work on attachment theory, which has now been discredited.

64.     Bowlby's work stemmed from the desire of governments to remove
women from the workplace after the Second World War and make room for men
returning from the battlefield.

65.     The work, which is supported by few other studies, focused on
children's relationships with their mothers, while father's roles were
dismissed as "playing second fiddle" - merely providing economic and
emotional support for the mother. Schaffer is critical of Bowlby and
asserts that

"The notion that the biological mother, by virtue of being the biological
mother, is uniquely capable of caring for her child is without
foundation".

66.     He contends that mothering is a function which both sexes are
equally capable of performing, and stresses that fathers' relative lack of

involvement in child rearing is essentially a cultural rather than a
biological phenomenon.

67.     In fact there are no studies that suggest that a child brought up
by a man display any marked psychological or emotional characteristics
different to one raised by a woman.  Actually my sister, brother and I was

raised singularly by my father since the age 4, 7 and 10 respectively.  He

showed us nothing but love, guidance, and support and raised us.  He still

is performing that important role as our father and also as a grandfather.

 He has shown me the importance of being there for your children He
sacrificed much for us in the past and still would.  He is a simple man
but nevertheless is a great role model for me and I am proud to be his
son.

 XXXXX and XXXXXX  will be less anxious when away from each parent

68.     It has also been observed that children experience anxiety when
separated from their primary caretaker. But because of the dominance of
maternal caring, it was not acknowledged that children became anxious and
unhappy when separated from their fathers too.

69.     This is then an argument for more overall contact particularly for

young children who may become very anxious if the gaps between visits are
too long.

70.     If we are to place a value on the permanence of relationships we
need to spend more effort on developing creative and productive
arrangements which will serve the child's needs.

71.     For example, in addition to mid-week and weekend staying access,
many infants and toddlers benefit from their parent's visiting playgroup
or nursery for lunch or to generally help.

72.     In the case of XXXX and XXXXX's upbringing I was and still am a
hand on parent.  From the moment of their birth I was heavily involved.
Their mother unfortunately in both cases had a caesarean section that
meant she was in a lot of pain and discomfort for many weeks. At each
birth I was present and took over a lot of the care duties for the
children I must stress willingly and proudly.

73.     I took as much time off as possible, a month in both cases, to
support XXXXX and be involved.  They are my children and it was a
privilege to care for them and still is.  I bathed them, fed them, dressed

them, changed nappies, took them out and played with them.  When not
working I was never without them.

74.     This care continues but obviously has changed due to their
development and ever changing needs

75.     I have been there to care for them, sort out problems, take them
to school, and comfort them when hurting and advise them.  I have an
important role in their well being and have played this role and for the
benefit of XXXX and XXXXX this should continue.  It is not my intention
for this to stop.  I will always be there for them.

76.     Who looked after the children when their mother went out for the
night, went shopping.  It was I off course.  In actual fact I could manage

and do the things that she felt impossible like taking both children with
me to the shops to do the weekly shopping.

77.     Does it matter that their mother was able to stay at home to look
after them rather than return to work?  Not at all this was made possible
by me working very hard to support the family and enable this.  If she
were the higher wage earner the roles would be reversed.  However, now
both children are at school is it necessary for her to be a stay at home
mum or does it mean I cannot care for my children?  The answer is
obviously no!

78.     With my work pattern I am able to work at home, I have flexible
working time and currently take the children to school and pick them up. I

have a very strong support network in family and friends, that also
includes her mother and her partner.  However, I also consider their
mother to part of this support network and would not hesitate in asking
for her help, guidance or support.

79.     Recently, XXXX had to go to Hospital requiring XXXX and XXXXX to
stay with me.  My work was very receptive and I was able to leave early to

care for the children.  In addition, my wife's employers allowed her to
leave work early to pick  up from school.

80.     A situation that occurs very often is the constant undermining of
my contact with XXXXX by her mother.  She states that XXXX is too young to

stay away from her, although XXXXX is 6 in August, is staying with her
father and that this is the same argument for the last year.

81.     I have agreed that if XXXX tells me she wishes not to come and
stay or wants to go home, I will contact XXXXX.

82.     This is caring for the children and conforms to the LCD parenting
plan.  However XXXX would rather phone XXXX up and ask her.  This puts
XXXXX  in a position and occurred on an overnight stay on Tuesday 4th May
2004, agreed in mediation.  This does not follow the LCD parenting plans
that on page 3 it states:

       "they should not be made to express a view (for example which
parent they
prefer to live with) or made to feel that the responsibility rests with
them"

83.     Shared Residence would support this and prevent the children from
being put into this position.

Children will not be upset by missing their other parent

84.     It has been argued that children are upset by having contact with
their other parent; the 'evidence' being that they are upset when they
return to their residence parent.

85.     Similar arguments were used to stop parents visiting their
children in hospital - because it appeared that they 'upset' them. It was
not until the 1950's that someone realised that the children were actually

upset by being separated from their parents by unrealistic visiting hours
(or even a total ban).

86.     Since then parents have been allowed unrestricted access to their
children in hospital and even encouraged to stay overnight - much to the
benefit of the children. The courts need to understand this argument when
applied to contact and shared parenting.

87.     It has been mentioned to me that on return to their mothers XXXXXX

or XXXXXX has been upset.  I believe that this is not because they were
upset at the visit or stay with me but at the reminder of the situation to

the children.  I also believe that they get upset if being quizzed.  This
was also the view expressed by CAFCAS.

88.     I believe also that the children may be upset because they realise

that they will not be seeing me for some time.  I know that xxxxxx has
problems with this.

89.     My CAFCAS officer has reported that she believes 6 to 7 days
without the children seeing a parent is far too long and recommends that
the children see each parent very regularly, especially at the early
stages after a divorce.

90.     I entirely agree with that. XXXX and XXXXXX were born to two
parents; they have had to deal with divorce that was not handled very well

by their mother.  For example she told the children about the divorce
without me being present.

Child can cope with life with two parents with different attitudes

91.     Concern is often expressed about a child's ability to cope with
differences in personality, style and attitudes of their parents after
divorce. But the fact that no such concern is expressed in intact families

shows this to be a specious argument.

92.     Do intact families differ in parental skills? Do intact families
show different personalities?

93.     xxxxxx and XXXXX's parents are very different in personality and
skills.  Shared Parenting will enforce the need for communication and
parental support; therefore this argument is basically a non-starter.

Parents will be able to function on equal footing and therefore co-operate

94.     It is frequently claimed that shared parenting should only be
occur if there is a possibility that the parents will co-operate sensibly,

the assumption being that divorced parents are unable to co-operate about
anything, including parenting.

95.     This is supported by the following two erroneous and simplistic
notions about divorce:

       That all aspects of the marriage have failed and that the conflict
which
led to divorce was about parenting

96.     Evidence shows this as obviously being wrong.  Adults divorce for
many reasons related to adult needs and dissatisfaction, but conflict over

child rearing is not among the prevalent reasons appearing in the
originating pleas for divorce.

       That the anger will remain undiminished.

97.     Again, evidence dispels this theory as it has been proved that it
does diminish within the first year.

98.     XXXXX and XXXXX's mother and I divorced due to her adultery not
anything to do with the children.  As a mother she has my 100% support,
trust and belief.

99.     With Shared Residency she will gain the legal support from me as
well.  We both put the children first.

100.    Basically it is argued that if the parents cannot agree there will

be a hostile environment which will affect the children. Clearly there are

some cases where this is so, but it is worth examining the situation
closer.

101.    Parents with sole custody orders are not immune from intense
conflict, which is witnessed by their children, and there is no evidence
that shared parenting increases that hostility. It could be argued that
any hostility, which the children initially experience, would be balanced
by the opportunity to continue their relationship with both parents in a
meaningful way.

102.    Denying shared parenting solely because of one parent's opposition

ignores the child's wishes and developmental needs.

103.    There is thus a need to closely examine parental opposition to
shared parenting on a case by case basis, remembering particularly the UK
case of Caffell [1980] where the courts hoped that shared parenting would
bring the parents together to co-operate for the benefit of the child.

#######################

The following  is taken from the opening statement of a barrister - where I understand the applicant obtained an agreement that the respondent (mother) would not be averse to a "shared Residency" order being put in place subject to.........


"Father's application for a Residence Order re x, y, and z. The father is not seeking a sole Residence Order but a shared order.

Both parents and children live at {address}.

Proposals for resolution of this dispute have been made by the father in open correspondence. He has suggested that no order be made at present but a shared RO commencing on {date}or when either parent leaves the fmh, if before then. He suggests that the care of the children be shared equally. The mother has rejected those proposals.

There is also an issue about a holiday for the children in [county] from (date). The father informed the mother of his wish to take the children to see their paternal family on (3 months earlier date) but received no response. By letter (dated x) her solicitors have stated that while she is not averse to such a holiday, it should be "put on hold until Court matters are resolved". If she is not averse to the holiday there seems no reason why the children should not go and the sole reason for deferring a decision would be to frustrate the father's plans and the best interests of the children.

The welfare checklist.

The views of the children would seem to be the most important of the criteria
    a.. {Child name} Para no. Cafcass report. The father is concerned that Cafcass officer's report does not fairly and fully reflect what {child name} wishes. {Child name} appeared to find the meeting with {CafCass Officer} distressing and thought that she was being forced to choose between the parents. The father's case is that she want to spend an equal amount of time with both parents. Even if Para 32 is considered in isolation it demonstrates the importance of both parents to her and that {child name} does want to spend a substantial amount of time with both parents
    b.. {Second Child name} Para no Cafcass. The comments above apply also to (child name}
Fathers submissions
  1.. It is unfair to the children to make them choose between their parents. Children are entitled to express their views but they should not be put in a position where they feel they might offend one, or both, parents by doing so. They are entitled not to make a choice. In these circumstances, the report on the views of the children should be treated with some caution.
  2.. It is clear from Para nos. of the Cafcass report that {second child name} was distressed about being asked questions about this.
  3.. {Cafcass Officer's} conclusion that the children would benefit from one base (Para no.) is not a sufficient reason for not making a shared residence order. The children will have two homes whether a shared or a sole, order is made. They will spend a considerable amount of time with both parents. Emotionally they may, or may not, feel that one home or the other is their base. If they do so it will be an emotional and instinctive response and not one prompted by the wording of a Court order. One child might conceivably consider that her / his base is at one location; another might consider the other location is the base.
  4.. There are other factors to consider in deciding whether a shared or a sole order should be made. The following principles can be extracted from recent decisions:
  a.. In A v A (1994) 1 FLR 669 Butler Sloss LJ referred at page 677 to the need for positive benefit to the child from a SRO, but a SRO would be unlikely if there were unresolved concrete issues between the parents such as contact or education.
  b.. In D v D (2001) 1 FLR 495 Hale LJ said at Para 31 that an SRO did not require "exceptional circumstances". She went on to say that if the children are spending substantial time with each parent it may be an appropriate order.
  c.. In Re A (2002) EWCA 1343 Thorpe LJ referred to the need for Courts to reflect the realities of the situation by making a SRO where there was a proximity between the two homes and a relatively fluid passage of the children between the homes.
  d.. In Re: F (2003) 2 FLR 397 a SRO was made at first instance, and upheld in the court of Appeal, even though there was considerable animosity between the parents, the parents lived some distance apart (mother in Edinburgh; father in Hampshire), and the children would spend more time with the mother than the father. At Para 34 Wilson J. stated that it was erroneous to believe that a SRO was only appropriate when time was divided equally between the parents.
  e.. In A v A (2004) 1 FLR 1195 a SRO was made after "bitter and protracted proceedings". Wall J. at Para 123 stated that a sole RO to the father would be making a statement that although the parents shared care equally that fact was not recognised in a Court order.
  f.. The benefit of a SRO is that it avoids the possible stigma that one parent is good and responsible whereas the other is not. (see D v D Para 40).
  
    5.     In this case both parents will share in the care of the children. It is irrelevant whether the actual time spent with each parent is equal or not (although the father proposes equal care). Both Parents are committed to the best interests of the children. All the children have a good relationship with both parents.

    6.    The Residence Order issue is irrelevant to the financial issues. Both parties' housing needs are equal. Both parents will need accommodation where all the children can stay. One danger of a sole RO is that the party with sole residence might try and assert that this gives them a tactical edge in the financial proceedings. Paragraph 2 of the mother's statement of issue for the FDA, and her solicitors' response to the father's open letter, suggests that she is indeed trying to secure such an advantage.

    7.    In those circumstances it is submitted that there is no good reason for making a sole RO and the interests of the children require that a SRO is made to reflect the equal importance of both parents and to avoid the Children Act issues being used as a factor in the financial proceedings.

    8.    If the Residence Order issue is irrelevant to the financial issues there is no reason why the application needs to be heard first. Alternatively all issues could be listed before an experienced DJ with a Children Act ticket. If the RO issue is not heard by a DJ, it should be heard by a CJ before a DJ hears the AR proceedings.


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