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Why we no longer talk about custody and access
10 Jul 2018

Children are too often put at the centre of their parents’ disputes when a family breaks up – the last thing they need when their world is already being turned upside down.

Family solicitor Kate Rowley explains why FBC Manby Bowdler is taking a new approach based on collaboration rather than confrontation.

Latest figures from the Ministry of Justice show there were 27,401 divorce petitions made in the UK during January to March 2018.  

Though that figure is slightly down on last year, it still represents a significant amount of pain and turmoil for each of the families involved.

For children, divorce or the break-up of a family is an especially difficult time. All too often parents draw up battle lines over who will ‘win custody’ and see arrangements for children as a chance to score a personal victory in the separation process

To be at the centre of a hostile tug-of-love is the last thing any child wants or needs.

The Courts haven’t used the words ‘custody’ and ‘access’ since 1989 but they are still widely used by parents. That’s why our Family team no longer talk about custody and access with parents, but frame the discussion entirely in terms of what arrangements will work best for the children.

This isn’t just about the words we use. It’s about a new child-centred approach which understands that in almost all cases both parents still have a vital part to play in their children’s lives after a break-up and that a confrontational approach is not in the children’s best interest.

Experience has shown us that once we can shift parents’ mindsets from thinking of the process as a ‘fight’ in which there is a winner and a loser to working together for the good of their youngsters it is a lot more productive. By adopting a starting point of collaboration, we really can help to ensure the best possible results for all concerned.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of divorce, separation or issues surrounding children, call Kate on 01952 211323 or email

Meet Kate Rowley