There is no gender bias in English family courts, says new report
A recent study commissioned by the Nuffield Foundation and carried out by the University of Warwick found men and women are equally successful when making applications to have their custody of their children. The report also found that transfers of sole residence, although rare, were likely to be transfers from mother to father.
The report author said that the reason why the mother was the usual carer in applications was a reflection of the reality that mothers are more likely to take on a primary carer role than the father after a relationship breakdown. However, the author stressed there was no indication of any bias towards women over men by the family court system.
The report did raise some concerns that the current system was adult-centric, rather than child-centric, focusing too much on ensuring fairness to the adults. The research author, Dr Maebh Harding of Warwick’s Department of Law, also gave a warning that that legal aid cuts would threaten the families’ access to justice.
Campaigners for fathers’ rights claimed the analysis of the information and data which formed the basis of the report suffered from a distinct lack of real-life experience of the family court system.
Campaign groups argue that fathers are marginalised after relationship breakdown and in some cases unsubstantiated allegations of domestic violence are used by the mother to minimise or sever a child/father relationship.
They also expressed concern about the length of time it takes for the court to process applications as the average length of time – around 2 years – causes detriment to the father and their children. Campaigners expressed concern that the research authors lacked insight into the complex dynamics between the families of the father and mother on the breakup a relationship. Fathers’ rights campaigners say that children need both the father and the mother in their lives, and the family court system must abandon the primary parenting philosophy that they claim is no longer relevant in modern Britain.