There are no winners with divorce, but dads stand to lose more….
Divorce is not something married couples like to think about. Even as a happily married father, the thought of any scenario where I would split from my wife fills me with dread. Dread at the impact the process and the eventual outcome would have on Jack and our relationship.
My only experience of divorce – thankfully – has been second hand: As a son, friend and secret lover of celebrity gossip, rather than as an actual divorcee. But I’ve been around enough divorce to know splits between parents are often bitter, protracted and can be severely damaging to any future relationships.
My wife and I have always said that, should the worst happen and we decide to get divorced, we would do our upmost to avoid the courts.
I’d like to think we could do this, first and foremost to keep things stable for Jack’s sake. But also because we’re not just married, but also very good friends, who share similar interests.
I’d like to think we could do it, but ultimately, we’ll never know unless it actually does happen. This is why I’ve been quite pleased to read about plans to change the law, placing courts under a legal obligation to guarantee both divorcing parents access to their children.
This move by ministers, I think, is a very good thing. But I would say that wouldn’t I, being a dad and all?
I mean to make no moral point here. Just to state a fact. The law basically sets out that mums are primarily responsible for the care of children, and nowhere is this more evident than in divorce rulings.
In lots of cases, giving mum primary responsibility makes lots of sense. But we can also all accept that this gives rise to scenarios where dads – often perfectly good dads – see their moral right to access completely neglected.
I’m not just talking about the ‘direct action’ Fathers4Justice lot who enjoy a spot of wall-climbing and fancy dress. I’m talking about ordinary dads, sane, sensible, with a good job but who for whatever reason are denied the chance to see their children and who are fairly powerless to do anything about it.
I’ve yet to speak to anyone about this, including my wife, who doesn’t think these proposals are a good thing. Surely it’s just another instance of the law moving with the times? After all, we dads are much more involved with our kids than we were 20 years ago…