How do County Courts share care of children between parents?

This project examined how contact and residence orders are granted in five County Courts in England and Wales within a six month period in 2011.

Researchers looked at the type of applications that came to court, the role of the court in adjudicating such disputes and the different types of timeshare arrangements reached by parents during the court process. 

Key findings
  • Court plays a necessary role in adjudicating private child law disputes and should remain available as a viable option for parents.
  • The County courts showed no indication of gender bias in contested cases about where a child should live.
  • The County Courts actively promoted as much contact as possible even in cases of proven domestic violence, which was often combined with welfare concerns or strong opposition from older children.
  • 12% of the sample of private child care disputes involved non-parents such as grandparents or other relative carers. In such cases private law orders are being used as an alternative to public law proceedings. 

The full findings were published on 2 July 2015 and are available to download from the publications section of this page.