By Steve Doughty For Daily Mail
Published: 00:48 BST, 3 May 2019 | Updated: 00:51 BST, 3 May 2019
Nearly four out of every 10 family break-ups finish with a courtroom battle over the children, newly-released figures show.
They mean that 50,000 couples whose marriages or relationships end each year fight so seriously over who will look after their children that they need lawyers and a judge to rule on their future.
The number of legal disputes over the children of separated couples is four times higher than estimates long accepted by lawyers, social workers and politicians.
It points to a large pool of hidden misery among broken families and a major drain on the finances of hard-pressed parents struggling with each other over the fate of their children.
Nearly four out of every 10 family break-ups finish with a courtroom battle over the children [stock photo]
The four in ten figure is far higher than the previously widely accepted ten percent, pointing to a vast number of children who have been living in misery [stock photo]
The figures were produced by family court social workers in response to queries from the pressure group Families Need Fathers. They have been endorsed by the chief family judge Sir Andrew McFarlane.
Sir Andrew, President of the Family Division, said they were 'a far cry from the previous comfortable urban myth based on a figure of 10 per cent.
It indicates a major societal problem, with nearly 40 per cent of parents unable to sort out the arrangements for their own child without the need apply for a court order.'
The disclosure of the real scale of court disputes over children comes at a time when ministers are