You might have presumed I would have done my consultation response on shared parenting ages ago. But that starting point would have been the wrong starting point. Had you taken all the circumstances into account it was not safe to assume that I would do so, because although it was likely I would have had the fullest possible involvement with the consultation throughout its life (without of course specifying the amount of time I have spent on it), in fact I have not exercised my responsibility until the eleventh hour, although I have lived with the consultation throughout its minority, nurturing it and thinking about it all the time. I have sadly been unable to prioritise this particular baby over my other needs.
Ok enough. I've wanted wanted wanted to get to this shared parenting consultation response for an eon, along with my response to Stephen Twist's post on a related topic, and along with my half drafted and rather dusty epic post on shared parenting in general. I have given all of this a massive amount of thought and have been reading, ruminating and generally worrying about it for some time but have just been too busy to actually get down to it.
And in the meantime the Government have published their proposed amendments to the Children Act 1989 (H/t Family Lore), so just as I tick one thing off my list I have something else to replace it with. Plus ca change. Thankfully, Suesspicious Minds has covered the public law aspects of the draft legislation here - there are no surprises in it really. I have touched on the private law aspect of it (child arrangements orders) in my consultation response. Since I am all private lawed out after the consultation response frenzy today I have little energy for a blog post on child arrangements orders, but I have attached my consultation response. I've tried to focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the comparative proposals but it was pretty tough to stay on the straight and narrow. I confess I had begun to warm to the idea of a presumption or some kind of legislative "we take dads seriously" flag, but the more I looked at the actual wording in Options 1 -4 the more difficulties resurfaced. I want it to be a silver bullet that makes things better but I don't really think it will be. I tried to think of better wording but failed...I shall now probably be shot down in flames by people who say I'm defending the status quo with my gravy train politics, or who say I'm a feminazi. I'm really not. I just think the problem is a social not a legal one. I do think that one can impact on the other but I don't think that statutory amendment in itself will fix a social problem. And statutory amendment in the absence of resource to back it up (court, legal advice / representation, CAFCASS, information or anything else) is just a recipe for more disillusionment and injustice.
The consultation is here by the way. It closes tomorrow.
My response is here.