Shared Parenting Information Group (SPIG) UK

- promoting responsible shared parenting after separation and divorce -

IPPR report proposes shared parenting

A report published on 6 April 1998 by the Institute for Public Policy Research - the UK left wing think tank - says that separated fathers and their children 'deserve a better deal'.

The report centres on the failure of the Child Support Agency to force parents to comply with maintenance demands, and the alienation of weekend fathers who only see their youngsters at burger bars. It promotes the concept of shared parenting and recommends that divorced and separated fathers should be given greater legal rights concerning their children and an equal share of the weekly child benefit paid to mothers.

Adrienne Burgess, the author of the report, says that society needs to change totally its attitude towards fatherhood in general, and non-resident fathers in particular. She says that allowing 'non-resident' fathers to become more involved in the upbringing of their children could be of enormous emotional and developmental value to the father and their offspring.

She says that, wherever possible, shared residence - where children live part of the time with their mother and part with their father - should be encouraged and child benefit should be shared equally between both parents. Contrary to accepted wisdom, interviews with two-home children show that many of them thrive on it.

She believes that by allowing separated fathers to be more involved with their children they would pay child support voluntarily and reduce the need for costly and time-consuming enforcement orders. She says: "Fathers who have few opportunities to share in the major decisions concerning their offspring are the least likely to give financial support. But non-resident fathers who are involved in the day-to-day lives of their children not only pay more but show a better adjustment to divorce and better physical health. The children do better too."

She also highlights the plight of unmarried fathers who are systematically discouraged from being responsible for their children. Unlike married fathers and unmarried mothers, unmarried fathers have to apply to the courts to be granted parental responsibility for their children.

The report recommends the enforcement of contact orders and a change in terminology so that 'non-resident' parents are not castigated as 'absent' parents. It also suggests that more should be done to ensure that lone fathers should have equal prominence in the government's policies to help single mothers back to work and to provide child care assistance.

David Cannon - from press releases and news cuttings

Last updated - 7 April 1998
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