Shared Parenting is the title of the book written by a respected and celebrated lawyer, Fahad Ahmad Siddiqi, who advocates that the separation or divorce should be between spouses and not between parents. The book is an excellent guide for practicing attorneys and family/guardian judges as the author has done great research on various topics covering different aspects of child custody disputes not only from a legal perspective but also from a social perspective. This book bears witness to the fact that family formation patterns in Pakistan have changed significantly with the increase in cases of marriage dissolution. A broken family has negatively impacted all aspects of the divorce, affecting children’s development and social relationships in a variety of ways.
A close reading of the book shows that the author painted the sufferings of non-custodial parents in a clear way when he said that a large number of non-custodial parents involved in custody disputes suffer after the spouses split must bear the brunt of the arbitrary and capricious practices pursued by the family/guardian courts in Pakistan. Under Pakistan’s current legal system, a gender-biased approach to child custody has deprived a large number of divorce-affected children of the love, care, affection and companionship of their non-custodial parents.
Some children show their grief over their broken family by engaging in aggressive behavior and bullying, which can negatively impact relationships with their peers. Other children may suffer from anxiety, which makes it difficult for them to seek positive social interactions and engage in developmental activities such as youth sports. It has also been found that young people from broken families develop cynical attitudes towards relationships and harbor distrust, both of parents and of potential partners.
Custody of the child generally rests with the mother at tender age, as by this principle our courts believe that “a mother’s womb is God’s own cradle”. However, this principle in no way prevents the father from having access to and temporary custody of his children and from spending some quality time with them in his own home. Unfortunately, the courts’ attitude towards non-custodial parents has compounded their suffering by denying them home visits to meet their beloved children at home. In custody disputes, it has been observed that non-custodial parents are granted visitation rights for a few hours once a month to interact with their children only within the courthouses. I agree with Mr. Siddiqi on this point that our legal framework says nothing about how contact issues should be handled and what the process of resolving disputes between parents about children should be.
Under normal circumstances, courts must discourage visits to courthouses, as a divisional bench of the Baluchistan High Court ruled in Abdul Khaliq v. Ms Mahnoor and others that “the court allows for a comfortable, comfortable and friendly environment and a reasonable visit should timing. The Guardianship Court office was neither conducive nor effective for the stated purpose, lacking proper facilities and accommodations and not comparable to a home environment. The meeting in the premises of the court could not serve the purpose of the meeting. Federal and provincial legislators should amend existing laws to help alleviate the suffering of both the children affected by the divorce and the parents without custody.
Apparently, the training of family/guardian judges at the Punjab Judicial Academy is flawed and outdated, causing acute distress not only to the children already affected by the divorce, but also to the fathers who suffer from social distancing as non-custodial parents-affected children . Separated or divorced parents object to unnecessary delays in court proceedings that result in their children being denied quick access.
Separation and divorce represent the death of a marriage, but for a child caught in the middle or too young to understand the importance of visitation rights, it can mean the death of a parent. It is not uncommon for custody disputes to prove detrimental to both the children and the parents. The Guardian and Wards Act 1890 in conjunction with the Family Courts Act 1964 are the basic laws under which custody of minors is claimed. However, these laws require verification.
Elsewhere in the world, estranged parents are encouraged to resolve custody issues amicably. This is usually done through out-of-court (albeit with legal help) dispute resolution procedures such as mediation and collaborative law. The latter is a relatively new legal approach to resolving family disputes involving lawyers and is gaining ground in many countries.
More often than not, single fathers brand themselves as victims of manipulators of the country’s guardianship or family laws, so it has become necessary for legislators to include provisions in the law that provisional joint custody should be announced immediately by the court if either parent sue for custody of their child
It has also been shown that it takes years to fight exhaustive child lawsuits. Therefore, the existing laws should be amended to oblige the guardianship courts to resolve the custody issue within four months and the parties should not be granted an unnecessary adjournment to prolong the litigation.
Under normal circumstances, courts must discourage visits to courthouses, as a divisional bench of the Baluchistan High Court ruled in Abdul Khaliq v. Ms Mahnoor and others that “the court allows for a comfortable, homely and friendly environment and a reasonable visitation should timing. The office of the Guardianship Court was neither conducive nor effective for the stated purpose, lacking adequate facilities and accommodations and not comparable to a home environment. The meeting in the premises of the court could not serve the purpose of the meeting. Federal and provincial legislators should amend existing laws to help alleviate the suffering of both the children affected by the divorce and the parents without custody.