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This article, which draws on Swedish experience, argues that the English courts are currently using the shared residence order in ways that are unlikely either to benefit children or produce the intended results. Shared residence is considerably more demanding than co-parenting within an intact family, and attempts to use this order to improve parental co-operation are likely to prove counterproductive. Using shared residence to send symbolic messages about parental status is not only contrary to the statute, but the gap between the legal label and reality is also likely to increase dissatisfaction with the law. The article ends by arguing that whilst law may have a role to play in encouraging fathers' relationships with children it is too late to do this when parents have separated.
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