Leading Women for Shared Parenting

Today I have joined several other well known women in the UK alongside many other women working in the field of families and family support across the world in Leading Women for Shared Parenting.

Leading Women for Shared Parenting (LW4SP) is an international child advocacy organization supporting the implementation of a presumption of shared parenting as a standard in child custody determinations. Founded in 2013, LW4SP is comprised of prominent female psychologists, attorneys, elected officials, domestic violence practitioners, social scientists, authors, child advocates and others who support shared parenting. We advocate for shared parenting as LW4SP is in contact with the most prominent social scientists in the world and is aware, except in cases involving abuse, neglect or abandonment, shared parenting produces the best outcome for children. LW4SP focuses its advocacy on educating politicians, judges, policy makers and the public about the value of shared parenting for children of divorce.

UK women in the group are

Erin Pizzey – International Founder of Refuge/Refuge Movement for Victims of Domestic Violence and Author

Dr. Nicola Graham-Kevan – Professor of Psychology, Domestic Violence Expert

Ruth Langford – Manager, Wikivorce Philippa Dolan, Esq – Partner,

Practicing Family Law Attorney Celia Conrad – Solicitor, Author

Alison Bushell – Co-Founder, Child & Family Solutions

Information about the other leading women from around the world can be found at the LW4SP site.

As many of my readers will know, my journey to supporting legislative presumption of shared parenting has run alongside my personal journey away from feminism and towards a whole family approach to work with separated families. It is almost as if, as I emerged from the orthodoxy of thinking inside the box, my ability to understand the importance of legislative change grew clearer. Whilst I continue to firmly believe that legislative change is only one part of the change we seek in terms of how we educate, inform and support separated parents to help their children, I also know that it is the bedrock upon which to build a different, more egalitarian future, in which our children’s rights to strong relationships with both sides of their families (and selves) is protected over the longer term.

I have joined LW4SP because I know that here in the UK, the Coalition government’s  attempt to create change in the two arenas that affected separated families was eventually distilled into a meaningless sentence in the Children Act and a pointless waste of money by the DWP in what became ‘help and support for separated families.’  The latter being created by a group of people who appear in the latest news about Child Maintenance to have ditched everything that was originally planned in order to revert to the Gingerbread land terminology of ‘absent parents’ who must be ‘made to pay.’ This clear reversal of what was actually a progessive agenda, tells me that there is still a mountain to climb in terms of persuading people that change is due in this field.  Having abandoned UK politics in favour of working with families directly again, it seems important to me to work on this issue internationally to fight the all pervasive women’s rights dominated agenda that drives this field here.

There is no lack of evidence to show that children do well when both of their parents are involved in their lives. International research can be found at LW4SP and other sites dedicated to raising the reality. However in the UK, just as international research around family violence is ignored by government, this research is too often quietly shelved in favour of that which is commissioned and paid for by women’s rights interest groups.  With the reduction of the representation of the needs of fathers in government to feminist appeasing groups such as the Fatherhood Institute, it seems very clear to me that the road to legislative change in the UK is going to be long and hard indeed.

The issue of legislative change has been resisted massively in the UK.  Even where organisations such as Relate and One Plus One have in public received millions for supposedly helping parents to co-parent, they have, behind the scenes, been campaigning to make sure that legislative change is stopped.  These and other organisations were signatories to a campaign to effectively stop the changes to the Children Act which were originally proposed by Tim Loughton when he was Children’s Minister.  What eventually emerged from this was a change so futile that it could in many circumstances make things worse, not better for children.  UK family politics is dominated by feminists and it was clear to me, in my work with the Coalition Government, that it is women’s rights that come first in family policy with fathers and children a very long way behind.  I believe that is wrong.  I believe that in family policy and practice the rights and needs of children should come first by a long way.

I work with children of family separation every day of my life.  I see the damage it does to them.  I also see the damage that our current legislation does, making things worse not better, driving adversarial approaches to separation and failing on a daily basis to ensure that parents are helped to work together.  In the UK, the rise in the focus upon the voice of the child is seen as the way forward as adults abdicate their responsibilities in favour of asking children what they think should happen.  Even the Children’s Commissioner for England is in favour of allowing children to decide whether to see a parent after separation. Websites have sprung up which have children affected by separation assisting other children going through the experience.  These wheezes even proclaim that children have raised the funding for these projects. Leaving me despairing at the absolute lack of understanding of what children really need when their parents separate, which is two parents working together to ensure that children can carry on being children, not pseudo agony aunts or decision makers about their relationship with the two people who brought them into the world.  This is why we need legislative change.  This is why I have joined LW4SP.

Joining LW4SP allows me to share my experience internationally as well as learn from some key women who share my own views and experience in the field. It also allows me to continue to push for the very best outcomes for children of family separation all over the world. I am delighted to join such a strong and visionary group of women for whom children’s needs and rights come first. One day, all support for separated families will be made this way.

More information on LW4SP, research, articles and public polling on shared parenting is available on our website: www.lw4sp.org.


  1. Really pleased to see this Karen – been following LW4SP for some time now. Lets hope more UK based advocates and specialists join you.

    LW4SP were supporting the proposed legislative changes in North Dakota to put shared parenting into law there (known as Measure 6) – it failed, in part due to the State Bar Association funding at least $80,000 to pay for a campaign (run and fronted by divorce lawyers and ironically called ‘Keeping Kids First’) to smear the campaign and run scare tactics, including stating that shared parenting would ensure violent dads still had court enforced access to their kids to continue domestic abuse. Chilling how much effort goes into maintaining the (profitable) status quo that decisions around parenting can only be handled in court via long protracted emotionally devastating, divisive and cripplingly expensive court cases.


  2. We need to see an end to legislation which supports one parent to the detriment of the other. From a personal perspective, conflict regarding the unfairness of the CSA was the final nail in the coffin regarding any co-operation between my son and his ex. My son wanted to discuss a private arrangement, his ex. did not and consequently blocked him from telephoning her. Sad for the boys as at 14 and 10, they are now fully aware of the conflict.


  3. The sooner Shared Parenting is the presumption after separation of parents here in the UK the better. All the evidence screams that having both parents in a child’s life is so important and for all the right reasons. Unless there is a sufficient reason that a parent should be removed from their child’s life then it must not be allowed. The Family Courts here are so full of fabricated allegations of Domestic abuse, Parental Conflict and charges of Parental Inabilities, the majority of which are usually found to be false or extremely exaggerated after months of wasted Court time and reams of CAFCASS reports. This is usually done as a petty punishment to the NRP (96% of the time Dad) where he is forced to attend a Contact Centre for one hour a week just to see their child. There is never any punishment to the Resident Parent who is allowed to spout the untruths except to finally allow the NRP more time with their child, and then that is normally nowhere near as much time as they should be allowed. Th Family Court system and the laws and rules that they abide by here are archaic and must be changed immediately, and not at the false promises of generations of politicians who only have a 5 year insight. We should start educating Parents that a child is not a possession that can be used to hurt another (if you can term a person who does this as a parent?), this action is Child Abuse and cannot be termed anything less! Thank you for starting to change this archaic system…… good luck!


  4. I’m delighted to see such a sensible approach to parenting, I’m not even a parent, but I have seen the damage that is done when situations become adversaial.


  5. I hope that this sustains you all in the long struggle to shift policy and practice to support parents to do their best for children. It should not be so but men’s voices are simply ignored. As you say the evidence is legion but still it is ignored.


  6. Whilst I agree with your notion that children should be able to maintain their parent/child relations after the parents have separated I cannot see anything you have mentioned here that will make any difference to the system which gives us what we have today. We seem to be careering on a path of female dominance and the absolute eradication of all males. A young woman, on daytime TV confidently states that she intends to freeze her eggs whilst she pursues her career and then at a later date of her choice decide to have her eggs fertilised by sperms from a sperm bank in Birmingham from an anonymous source. When questioned about the possibility of a father for her children she simply said that it was not necessary unless she felt so at the time. What struck me most about this interview was that the man who interviewed her failed to challenge her egotistic and gender biased views. My question to this woman is, “if you could choose the sex of your children, what would that be?”…………………….I don’t think she would choose a boy.
    Whilst the ego of women seems to run rampant throughout our legal and political systems, aided and abetted by males selfishly pursuing their careers at the expense of their parental duties, then things can only get worse for the child needing to maintain relations with both their parents. Perhaps more than ever before we need to have a Government Department for men and equalities to provide some opposition for the one we already have for women and equalities.
    Who is going to stop the Cafcass destruction of the family now we no longer have Ofsted to oversee and report on their wicked deeds….not the Courts.
    The idiotic politicians showing off their feminist t shirts? Obviously not.
    Nor am I happy with the idea that “normal” child/parent relations can only be pursued “where it is safe to do so”. What “God” is going to decide what is safe and what is not. Clearly under the present legislation it is feminist ideology that determines this. You are not safe if you are a man. Ironically the safest father is the one in jail. I see an organisation is encouraging fathers in jail to make a recording of a bedtime story to send to their child. This is supposed to satisfy the child’s need for a father.

    Kind regards


  7. Another excellent article and clearly the nucleas of a good team. Sadly I agree with an earlier comment that it’s going to take much more to ever change anything.
    Only serious male action to stop child abuse that is parental alienation and the everyday sex discrimination against fathers by society is the key.
    Yes education is another process and in my opinion whilst this should start with being included in school curriculum in later years just how many schools break the law every day when mum calls in to the head in tears saying how nasty the ex partner is which leads to exclusion, outcast and not even agreeing to provide information on the child they are legally entitled to do!
    Not until fathers ‘grow a pair’ as is quoted on tv and really grow a pair and strike will anything ever change.
    As men’s group are not as strong or as well organised as women’s group this too is sadly not going to happen.
    Best interests of children….hmmmm


  8. Sadly, the law does not work in the favour of mothers who support shared parenting, but whose ex husbands have no interest in signing up to it. Despite my daughter being desperate for a relationship with her father, he still refuses to make consistent arrangements, see her on a regular basis and even moved 200 hundred miles away. He won’t answer solicitors letters asking for dates when he can see her and refuses to go to mediation. My solicitor advised me to stop contact completely so if he wants to see her he will have to get a court order and a judge will tell him when he has to see her – probably more often that he does at the moment. And yet, I fear and know that this is the point at which his infrequent visits will stop. I am not prepared to do it, but there is no legal solution for my daughter. He sees the fact that he pays maintenance as indicative of being a father, and yet this is so far from reality. And yes, I agree totally with your remarks about absent parents who are made to pay – like the money is all that matters. The law does not support children. It needs to change so that both parents take responsibility for the children in the middle of a break up. Who gets to just walk away and destroy a child’s life?


  9. This frustrates me too. You have my sympathy. I wonder what it is like to be him. What is he thinking? What does he want? Why is he ignoring you and why is it so different now to how it was when you were all together as a family? This is very difficult because you want the children’s father to carry on his relationship with his children and he is not responding in the way you would have liked. I think relationships are so much more difficult to maintain when there is such a huge geographical distance between the separated parents. He may feel that having been through Court he didn’t get what he wanted. What did he want?

    Here is something you might try.

    The amends letter. This is a letter in which you take full responsibility for your actions. You apologise for any harm he may have felt as a result of what you did/said. You show respect for his love of his children and recognise some of the positive things he did as a father.
    Bear in mind if he is still in a mental state of grief or loss or is angry in any way you may not get the response you had hoped for. This is not important. What is important is that however aggrieved he may feel you have given him a possible route back to his children. Remember his time with his children is just that; don’t impose controls on your children or him; this will only confirm to him that it is you who holds all the power and control over the children.

    It always helps to have a vision of how it might work although his vision is as important to him as yours is to you.

    Try and find an intermediary that he feels happy to talk to and you feel reasonably comfortable with too. Is there a brother or sister of his or yours that has no axe to grind? Someone who is simply child focussed and wanting to repair the relationship.
    If he is bitter about the split with you bear in mind he may be suffering a mental illness even though he is still going to work and bringing in the money. Some people who find it difficult to cope with trauma launch themselves into work trying to deny the mental anguish they are suffering; they simply block out the past because they cannot cope with it.

    I have found a number of books that deal with parenting / emotional issues and personal health that have served me well through my separation. I wish you well in trying to recover the father/child relationship.

    Kind regards


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