Out with the old and in with the new: on shared parenting and the road ahead (2)

Buckle your seat belts this is going to be a bumpy ride over the coming days as the government makes its announcement about shared parenting legislation. Widely expected is an amendment to the Children Act 1989 to set out that the best interests of the child lie in having a strong relationship with both parents after separation. Expect once again, to have the big guns against shared parenting rolled out, Trinder, Mclean and Hunt will once again be used to ‘prove’ that the government are making a mistake. Expect also to hear a cacophony of dissent from the legal people, many of whom will use the same old statistics (10% of parents who use the court system are those most conflicted or those with issues around violence and alcohol) and the same old arguments that every case is different and nothing should change.

But listen hard and you will hear other voices speaking up for shared parenting. Listen to the government and you will hear a lot of support for the reforms that are being brought through. This week, Professor Patrick Parkinson from Australia, spoke at a Family Law Presentation at Westminster. Professor Parkinson is an important figure in Australia, someone who has been at the heart of many of the changes around family law and the child support system over there. It is unlikely to be a co-incidence that he is here, just as the government prepare to make what for many is a controversial announcement. Perhaps Professor Parkinson is on hand to allay many of the fears that are being expressed about the UK moving towards an Australian model of dual parent support after separation, something that is far removed from our current single parent model.

The arguments against shared parenting will be aired in full elsewhere and, having spent the last decade arguing back, I shall no longer waste time by going over them again. The decision is made that shared parenting after separation will be the expected norm for families in the UK, the reforms across the legislation that touches the lives of separated parents are clear evidence of this.

Our interest now, has to be on how the reforms can be translated into the real lives of parents and children who face separation. It is here now, that we must concentrate all of our efforts because the forces ranged against the reforms will be watching closely and gathering evidence to support their argument, that shared parenting is not in the best interests of children.

One of the biggest issues that we have to tackle is the all pervasive assumption that the single parent model of support is the right one. This model is firmly underpinned by several key assumptions. a) that all men are dangerous, b) that children do not need a father and c) that single parenting is as good as dual parenting.

The model rests upon a moral imperative, which is that to challenge the single parent model is to stigmatise single parents and make them feel that they are somehow less than their dual parenting peers. This is further supported by the crusade to inculcate into our consciousness that single parents are parenting alone because they have been abandoned by a feckless father. The manipulation of our belief structure is completed by the widespread propaganda that tells us that children do just as well with one parent as they do with two. It is literally as easy as a,b,c, you cannot challenge single parenting because to do so is to stigmatise parents who have been abandoned and their children, who are doing very well indeed.

This single parent model of support has indeed supported and protected those parents who have been abandoned or, for whatever reason, have had to take up parenting alone. But it has also trapped, within its tightly woven web, all of those families who could have done things differently by removing all of their choices about how to make post separation arrangements.

I would argue that the single parent model has gone further, much much further than protecting parents and children from stigma, it has become a choice that many feel able to make because single parenting is portrayed, as often as not, as being just another family formation. Couple this with the pervasive notion that dads are dispensable or dangerous and it is possible to see how the UK has ended up being branded by F4J as the ‘fatherless generation’ in their up and coming Olympiad Campaign.

So what of dual or shared parenting. How are we going to translate the government’s intention into reality on the ground. After decades of pushing for change, how we will move from our single parent model of support to dual or shared parenting model of support. We have a lot of work to do and an awful lot of catching up because as things stand, much of the support that is currently available is for one parent or the other and not both parents and many of the service providers are still scratching their heads and arguing whether shared parenting is the right thing in the first place.

In Australia, when the reforms were first brought through, a rush to the court ensued as dads aimed to get their rights enacted as quickly as possible. A spike in court applications occurred within the first couple of years, exactly the opposite of what was intended by the reforms. Here too, there is a risk that as soon as the reforms are brought through, a flight into court will occur as more dads will seek a shared residence and shared parenting agreement. What is needed, of course, to prevent this, is a concerted effort to educate and support mothers, to understand what shared parenting looks like and to believe that sharing parenting after separation is not, somehow, to fail to be a good mother.

Without question it is going to be difficult for those first waves of mothers who find themselves in a situation where they are being advised of one thing, only to find that another, quite different outcome is expected of them. Many mothers go into separation in the full expectation that they will be the parent with care and that they will dictate the pace of post separation parenting. This is how it used to be, but already, in cases in the courts, there are winds of change and the expectation of mothers is no longer a guaranteed outcome. When the amendments to the children act come through, more mothers will find themselves in a position where they are expected to make a shared parenting agreement. Caught between the old and the new, these mothers are likely to find themselves being advised by those against the shared parenting project with the result that conflict around agreements is likely to be prolonged instead of prevented.

We must then work hard to ensure that the support services that are available to parents work in their best interests and most of all in their children’s best interests. Whilst the rest are busy arguing about shared parenting and its rights and wrongs, we, at the Centre for Separated Families, are making as much information, education and support available as we possibly can, to help parents to make shared parenting a reality that works for children. There is a huge gaping hole where support for shared parenting should be and this must be filled and filled quickly.

The support that parents need after separation can be broken down into three parts. The first is support to get through the early days when re negotiation of the parenting contract must take place often in very difficult emotional circumstances. The second is support to set up and manage a shared parenting agreement and the third is arms length support when things are up and running, to manage changes in the agreements and deal with difficulties that inevitably arise. In Australia, the most effective and widely used services were those that offered education and information to parents and it is our experience at the Centre for Separated Families that parents are in desperate need of these too.

Building the road ahead then is our key task if we are to make shared parenting a reality in the UK. You will notice, as I am writing, that I have not mentioned once, the issue of time, which is one of the foundation stones of the road that we are seeking to travel on. I have not mentioned it because largely I consider that it is not necessary to do so. When the expectation is laid out in the Children Act, it will be for us to translate that into the lives of the parents we work with and, dare I say it, every case is different and therefore every family will need to work out its own arrangement. What will be needed therefore is information about how children fare at different ages in different shared parenting arrangements. We are preparing information, based upon research into outcomes for children, the latest evidence on the neuroscience of children’s developmental stages and how to manage transitions between households. When the fact that children benefit from strong relationships with both of their parents is accepted and the support delivered comes from a place of understanding that children need more than a visit every other weekend to build a strong relationship, the issue of time is not one to argue about. It is simply something that must be managed in a child focused way that will change as children grow older.

As the government prepares to make its announcement, its time to put the hard hats on and get to work. On the road far behind us, many will argue the merits of shared parenting and the pitfalls and the pains. For the rest of us, its time to look ahead and build what we have been arguing for, over many years. Those voices, which have had so much control over so many lives for such a very long time are becoming distant and we will, in our lifetime, look back in shame and wonder how we could have allowed that to happen for so long. When we look at our own work, in supporting shared care in years to come, we must ensure that what we have done is something to be proud of.

108 comments

  1. Gregory- · May 3, 2012

    And I thought I shall never live to see the day…

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    • brendan burns · May 3, 2012

      me 2

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  2. John Denbigh · May 3, 2012

    At the risk of sounding unduly pessimistic, there are many that would say that the existing legislation provides perfectly well for the concept of shared parenting – it is simply that Cafcass and the judiciary have had no regard for that concept and the lip service that is paid to it generally translates into alternate weekends. That is 2 days in 14, clearly no basis on which a child can benefit from the parental input of the parent so marginalised in his or her life. Weekday contact is still widely resisted on the basis that it is “disruptive to the child’s routine.” Or it is rendered impractical or impossible because the mother is allowed to relocate at distance, often outside the jurisdiction where enforcement of any orders made will also be near impossible. In addition, the Court all too often determine matters on the basis of a child’s purported ‘wishes and feelings’, with no regard or recognition for the degree to which i) they have been alienated and ii) are mature enough to take decisions that reflect their long term interests. Then the Court’s record on enforcing the Orders it makes is woeful and mothers are allowed to flout them with impunity.

    Therefore whilst the Government’s intention enshrine in legislation the principle that a child should have a meaningful relationship with both parents this is potentially a massive step forward and very much to be welcomed, if it is to change anything it will need to be accompanied by a number of other measures. That is essential because a principle, legislative of otherwise, will be meaningless unless support by definitive measures, guidance and requirements, as has been shown in the case of the Children Act which provided for Shared Residence Orders.

    As you say, we can expect to have the big guns against shared parenting rolled and very proactive and we need to match that in an approach that is as unified as possible. In this respect, I believe think we need to push the following 6 key areas where supporting changes will needed:

    1. The principle of a “meaningful relationship with both parents” is going to need some definition and accompanying guidance for the judiciary. Without that it may be near meaningless. There has always been a presumption that a child should have a relationship with both parents – if not enshrined in legislation – but there has been no consistency across family courts as to how that presumption is implemented when it is. The norm all too often has been alternate weekends, 2 days in 14, no basis on which a child can benefit from a Father’s parental input.

    2. There needs to be an urgent review of leave to remove and internal relocation given current precedents fail to support the shared parenting principle. Current case law allows one parent to remove a child from the jurisdiction of England and Wales and there is nothing the other parent can do about it. Internal relocation can cause many of the same problems and needs to be similarly reviewed.

    3. Improved enforcement mechanisms are needed to combat the current unacceptable level of non-compliance with court orders, including move away from frequently expressed judicial view that it cannot be in a child’s best interests for his mother to be ‘punished’, a view which disregards the long term interests of the child in being allowed to benefit from a relationship with both parents.

    4. There needs to be a move away from the damaging ‘wishes and feelings’ approach, an approach developed purely to address Cafacss resource pressures and one that disregards wider welfare interests, burdens a child with taking decisions that they are too young to take and understand the long term implications of, empowers the mother to alienate and harmfully divides a child’s loyalties.

    5. There needs to be greater recognition of research and authoritive studies into parental alienation and it needs to be taken into account by Cafcass, particularly when producing reports applying the Welfare Checklist given the emotional harm it can inflict and way it influences children’s wishes and feelings. Judicial decisions also need to reflect a better understanding of this, including more consistent application of case law around the subject.

    6. There needs to be imposition of sanctions to deal with false allegations, particularly given new incentive to make them created by confining qualification for legal aid to cases where there is domestic violence.

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    • karenwoodall · May 3, 2012

      I agree John and there is much work to be done is so many areas and we must all, in our individual and collective ways get our backs into it right now because the wall will come down and things will change and it is likely to that the speed of change will take us by surprise and we must not fall into chaos, we must keep elucidating, as you have done, the key areas for change and keep pushing and pressing and demanding so that the new ways get the very best chance possible. it will take some time of course for changes to translate and across the country we will see patchy change but we must keep going, keep doing what we know needs doing and keeping getting help out there to the people and their kids who are living their lives as the old fades and the new emerges. K

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    • Melyssa Lecocq · May 3, 2012

      YEA I DO AGREE ON SOMETHINGS nOT ALL !!! BUT I DO SAY CHILDREN SHOULD sTAY WITH THE mOTHERS WE CARRY THEM 9 MONTHS & THE FATHER SHOULD HAVE VISITING RIGHTS , SLEEP OVER ON WEEKEND & HOLIDAYS TO HAVE TIME WITH THE CHILDREN (S) & THE KIDS SHOULD BE ABOUL TO DECIDE AT 12YEARSOLD WHERE THEY WANT TO LIVE !!!?? THAT A GRET AGE TO DECIDE N THINGS!! tHINK ABOUT THE KIDS & HOW THEY WOULD BE MIX UP 1 WEEK AT MOM &1 WEEK AT DADS WHERE? WHEN? WHAT? WERE? I AM GOING AFTER SCHOOL …..THEY GET STRESS & THEY GET MOODY tHINK ABOUT THAT TOO !!???! & HOW THEY WILL FEEL INSIDE OF THERE LITTLE BODY & MIND .. WHEN WEEKEND COMES THEY ARE FREE OF SCHOOL SO TIME FOR DAD TIME !! & ON THE WEEK STAY WITH MOM !! sO THEY HAVE A ROUTINE & BE STABLE & NOT GET ALL STRESS AND MIX UP IN THE MIND & SOUL …. THINK ABOUT THAT !!????!!…… THIS IS NOT SUPOOST TO BE ABOUT THE pARENTS BUT ABOUT THE KIDS !! & SOME FATHERS ARE GOOD & sOME ARE NOT sO BE CAREFUL ON THIS TOO !! CAUSE SOME SAY LIES TO LOOK BETTER bUT IN CLOSE DOORS THEY JUST SAY BAD THINGS TO THE CHILD ABOUT THE MOTHERS ARE FATHERS & THAT IS CALL ABUSE & NOT GOOD FOR THE LITTE SOUL!!!! & I KNOW THE FEELING TOO !! I AM GONG TROUGHT THIS NOW & I WISH I DID NOT NEED FOR COURTS &EVERYTHING BUT MY GIRL DAD DID ALOT OF aBUSE TO ME & SON & FAMILY ….HE IS MAYBE GOOD FOR MY GIRL IN WAYS BUT IN OTHERS WAYS NOPE!! CAUSE HE IS SAYING ALOT OF BAD STUF TO MY GIRL ABOUT ME & TO DO TO ME THAT IS CALL MIND ABUSE, VERBAL ABUSE FROM PARENT ABOUT THEY OTHER !!! BE WIZE GOVERMENT & Karen woodall , BE CAREFUL & look in all ways but mostly the child They are the #1 ONE tHANK YOU !!!… 🙂

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      • karenwoodall · May 3, 2012

        thank you for this Melyssa, I am sorry to hear that you have had a difficult time. What it is important to remember is that not everyone experiences the same thing and so what is right for you and your children, may not be right for another family. In cases where there are difficult issues as you describe in your post there will be a screening process to ensure that children and their parents are protected. Any parent, of either gender, who bad mouths the other parent or puts the other parent in danger or the children into a situation where they have to choose is abusive and in those circumstances I would suggest that the kind of support services I am calling for should be available to help parents to change their behaviour or be prevented from shared parenting arrangments. I do not agree that children are old enough at 12 to decide where they want to be, we dont allow children to decide whether they go to school at 12, or whether they will smoke or drink, why should we hand over the parenting responsibility to them at 12? I hear your comments and your concerns but change is necessary and it is important that we get our services of support right. K

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    • Scott · May 3, 2012

      Well written John.

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      • Charlie · May 3, 2012

        So say I – good argument John.

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    • karenwoodall · May 4, 2012

      The Midland Guidelines are excellent, I am involved in trying to get something similar piloted in England so that we can demonstrate how use of them could reform the court process. I sat in on a court using them last week, though there was still an issue about DV allegations holding things up, this court gets through their cases at break neck speed using the Midland Guidlines – and, get this, does a safeguarding report in 28 days or under. Unheard of. Good outcomes though, good levels of parenting time for dads and expectation that parents will work together.

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  3. Chris Welles · May 3, 2012

    If all goes well, what are the lessons we need to learn from the hijacking and disruption from certain groups/vested interests that set out to sabotage the changes in Australia?

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    • karenwoodall · May 3, 2012

      Chris, if you read the report on the 2006 reforms they actually can be interpreted in many different ways. The key piece that interests me is the reporting from family relationship services, which were heavily used and which offered a wide range of interventions. The problem we have here in the UK, with the use of the Australian report is that the organisations against shared parenting, well funded and powerful as they are, can mobilise their research departments and put out something in the blink of an eye to convince government and others that Australia was a disaster. It wasn’t at all, but the shared parenting lobby isnt well funded enough or supported enough by research departments to make as big a noise as the dissenting voices. However, government IS listening and change is coming and we have to get it as right as we can as quick as we can in order to stop those dissenting voices from persuading government that they have made a mistake. Make no bones about it, this is going to be one big fight.

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  4. Joy Grundstrom · May 3, 2012

    I have read the most recent government report from Sweden about shared parenting. Shared parenting has grown rapidly in the past 30 years and has shown that everyone has benefited, particularly the children. Difficulties only arose when the children reached their teens and preferred to stay in one home rather than move between the homes of both parents. Maybe the government should look at this report as well?

    One issue that hasn’t been touched on is the issue of maintenance. A large part of the Swedish report discussed issues such as income, maintenance and housing benefit; how finances are affected, particularly for the mother, and how benefits should be allocated. Today, maintenance is not paid if the family decides to share parenting equally. This may not go down well in the UK.

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    • Melyssa Lecocq · May 3, 2012

      I AGREE WITH YOU !! THEY SHOUD LOOK INTO THAT TOO !!! & THINK ABOUT THE KIDS INSTEAD MOTHERS SHOULD STILL HAVE THE RIGHTS TO THERE CHILDRENS & DAD HAVE VISITES & SLEEP OVER ON WEEKEND sO THEY DONT GET MIX UP FOR sCHHOL & BUS & GET ALL MIX UP IN WERE & WHAT & WHEN THEY GO AT MOM aRE DAD cCOME ON PEEPS THE KIDS SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO DESIDE AT 12 WHERE THEY WANT TO GO …..

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    • karenwoodall · May 3, 2012

      Thanks Joy, do you have a link to the report? The maintenance question is being dealt with here in the UK too, I am going to ask Nick Woodall to write about this on here shortly because he has some really interesting ideas about how to ensure that income drops in both homes are prevented so that children do not suffer in either home. K

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      • Joy Grundstrom · May 4, 2012

        Hi Karen
        I have a link to the report but it is in Swedish and approximately 800 pages long. I doubt it would be translated. /The reason I know so much about the Swedish end of things is that I have recently appealed to the administrative Court of Appeal in Stockholm to get ‘maintenance support’ (a nominal sum paid for by the Swedish Government as a substitute for ‘real’ maintenance which should be paid for by his father)/.

        I could pull out the topics which have been researched, the findings and what they are considering implementing in the next year, eg sharing of child benefit. There is some short research about how Finland, Norway and Iceland approach separation, shared parenting, mediation and finances.

        Let me know if I can help you. I am, by the way, a fluent Swedish speaker and translator.

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    • karenwoodall · May 4, 2012

      Yes please Joy, if you could it would help enormously, we have some links with Sweden and Denmark and Norway through our work on the European Network on Shared Parenthood, this would help us to learn what works and feed it into social policy here.

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  5. Yvie · May 3, 2012

    Joy – I may be wrong here, but I have the understanding the with the new welfare forms to be introduced by the end of 2012, when parents share the care of their children equally, no maintenance will be liable. Whether the criterion for no maintenance is a Court ordered shared residence order I am not sure.

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    • Melyssa Lecocq · May 3, 2012

      i dont agree with this !!! children should live with the Mother & the Father visiting Right !! Kids get MIX Up on all this We should think abou that !! Not about the MONEY !! kids are better then THAT in a LIFE time !!… We should think about the Child !!! COME ON !!! 1 week at mom & 1 week at DAD are you kidding me !! Childrens get SO mix UP they dont know where to go & do are anything !! they should stay with the Mother & have visiting right to go to Dad place & have weekends & holidays I agree with this !! But EQUAL !! & just for the money This is WELFARE …. You are not thinking about the CHILD here JUst about $$$ WOW some DADs are just to MUCH !!!

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      • Joy Grundstrom · May 4, 2012

        The research in Sweden goes against what you say Melyssa. They have testimonials from so many children who say,that although they didn’t like moving between two homes in the beginning, they were very happy that they continued to see both parents.

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  6. Yvie · May 3, 2012

    I mean ‘welfare reforms’

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  7. J.J.W · May 3, 2012

    Has there been any indication as to what the reforms will be, that is, hints of the upcoming announcement?

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    • karenwoodall · May 3, 2012

      Highly likely to be the insertion into the children act of a statement about children’s relationships with both of their parents, likely to be consulted upon post announcement.

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  8. Jane Jackson · May 3, 2012

    Ok, if this is going to happen then maybe it is time, just for a moment, to celebrate, it is certainly something I never thought I would hear.
    Having taken that moment, then a pause , the practicality of my son, being able to gain shared parenting after over 5years is surely not going to happen?
    The children who have been caught up in this tragedy , will need tremendous support and sensitivity to allow them to build up relationships with their non resident parent.
    If they wish to.
    Anyway, just for that moment, I will celebrate for the millions of children out there who will have their right to the love and care of both parents, at long last.
    Jane

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    • karenwoodall · May 3, 2012

      To be clear Jane, the change that is coming is an adjustment to the children act 1989 and as such it will take time and hard work to push its meaning through into the lives of parents and children. The shared parenting project is one that we have to really get our backs into now so that we can turn judgements into reality for families. We also need to get our backs into early intervention services so that parents understand that even if they go into court they will be expected to share parenting, thereby encouraging more to make arrangements out of court.

      I think it is time for a bit of a celebration but it is also the start of a very long and hard road ahead and one that we have to take extremely seriously. But yes, just for a moment it is time to say thank goodness that change is in the wind. K

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  9. John R · May 3, 2012

    I believe in theory it’s a very simple and easy to implement change.

    The main problem will be getting the paradigm shift understood by the resident parent.

    By that I man getting the mother to understand that they need to share.
    The paradigm of one person having complete control will need to be dissolved with the resident parent having to relinquish some of their control to the non-resident parent.
    This I believe will be hardest thing to achieve.

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    • karenwoodall · May 3, 2012

      How I agree with you John, it is a paradigm virtually set in stone in this country. It is there that much of our work will need to be focused. K

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    • Gregory- · May 4, 2012

      So far, as is my case, this has been impossible to attain, resulting in a completely needless 5 years of pain, confusion, Court and £££.

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  10. andrew winn · May 3, 2012

    Thank you Karen, this gives me hope after over 2 years trying to see and maintain a loving relationship with my daughter, things are very slowly beginning to chance for the better. my daughter is nearly 3 and i hope with the work that is going on by the time she is 6 or 7 laws will be in place to protect us both. kind regards andy

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    • karenwoodall · May 3, 2012

      I hope so Andy, for you and your daughter and all of the other children and their missing parents out there. K

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  11. Melyssa Lecocq · May 3, 2012

    i agree with this !! CHILDRENS SHOULD HAVE BOTH parents in there lives Me my baby girl is still seeing her Dad after all he did to me & My son & Family He beat me Up & putt me down with WORDS & my son too assulted me again & again me My family & friends & HE is still seeing her daughter after all But Yea it’s good for the Children to see both parents when the Dad knows how to ACT with the child & dont say bad thing to the kid about the Parent … That called a abuse & it’s not better for the kids to see & Heard all bad about the others parents !! But for all the DADS out there i do support this FOR ALL GOOD DAD that want all the Best for the Child & No Abuse , No bad saying about the Mothers ….. So Karen Wood all !! DOnt forget that … Not all dads are good for the children & same for some mothers …. 😦 it’s sad But true ……………!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • Melyssa Lecocq · May 3, 2012

      But Kids should Stay with the Mother, live with mom & & have Visiting Rights for the Dads & sleep overs but i am not with this Law 1 week at mom & 1 week at dads This is not good for kids , & they get MIX up !!…….???? when the have the right at 12 years old are something they can decide where they want to live ….!!!

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      • John · May 4, 2012

        Mel, please do not just assume that mothers should look after the children during the week and the dads get the weekends. It is perfectly acceptable for the father to have their children during the week and the mother at the weekend.

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  12. kipmiller · May 3, 2012

    Karen,

    Well done, again!

    I have posted Professor Parkinson’s paper he gave at his Westminster seminar on your fB page;-

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150897555963203.493517.538163202&type=1&l=8dda5ff7d8

    Many thanks,

    kip

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    • karenwoodall · May 3, 2012

      Thanks Kip, I heard Prof P a few years back and was impressed with what he had to say. I heard that the Nuffield report was being circulated…old habits die hard…there is still a long way to go. K

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    • Paul · May 8, 2012

      A more damning verdict on the Norgrove report, one couldn’t hope to read. It’s particularly pleasing to see this coming from someone instrumental in the development of Australian family law rather then a bystander with an obvious axe to grind. And doubly pleasing to see it delivered in the place where UK law is made.

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  13. Charlie · May 3, 2012

    Again, a great article Karen. Insightful, positive, factual and logical. I would encourage all who read this to follow suit and strive to make the proposed changes to the childrens act work. I will be one who tries to get the best outcome for my daughter; no matter how much resistance my ex and the people they have manipulated and exploited show.

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  14. Trevor mckenna · May 3, 2012

    I have my daughter tues and thurs from 4.30 to 7pm and sat 8.30 to 6.30pm and thn following sat 8. 30 to sun at 3pm. I have been court 4 times and now heading back for 5th time as asking that our daughter can stay with me on friday rather than stay with grandparents and also to prevent my little one getting up early sat mrning for me to collect . just in case u think im doing well my ex partner wrks thursday to 7pm and wrks every sat and so fsr for last 4years my bill for fees has went up to nearly 20k which im paying up i love my daughter dearly as does her mum but i believe we should get mre quality time together. My ex wld rsther hand my daughter over to her family or friends before she would give me any extra qulity time and so far she has broke court order twice and nothing has happened

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  15. Cityman · May 3, 2012

    It would be wonderful if things were to change – I cannot bring myself to believe it. I suppose I am simply beaten into the ground with my experience of the family court.

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  16. PapaMissingKids · May 4, 2012

    Great post as usual Karen…very sensible points put forward John Denbigh et al.

    I’m not sure if this is covered, but from my experience of the courts, it seems to me that CAFCASS are the ones with all the power. In my case, I have experienced that CAFCASS have shown such incredible irresponsibility and incompetence (I’m being polite now – very polite!) that they have made things immeasurably bad for my children and me. Add to that a very very devious solicitor the mother has as well as one of the best barristers in the country, and I just don’t know what chance my children and I stand…..

    However, if CAFCASS could have some training too recognise, understand and stand up to alienation, then it seems we would be moving forward in leaps and bounds.

    The fact is this – CAFCASS have a hell of a lot of influence in the courts, they’re not very bright and they know nobody can touch them so therefore we keep suffering. And they’re not even humble enough to accept and acknowledge that they don’t have the know-how to deal with alienation cases so that they then recommend such cases get put into the hands of a true expert such as Centre for Seperated Families. Unfortunately, CAFCASS think they are experts (??) and the other side solicitor/barrister know how to play and manipulate such ignorance.

    Finally, whatever changes get put into the legislation, unless the weakest links (CAFCASS, in the first instance) understand what to do, then it is unlikely to improve things – except for the legal people as they will be able to take advantage of cafcass incompetence. The Judges also need to be educated on how to improve matters.

    Both parents also need educating.

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    • Cityman · May 4, 2012

      I agree with you. I spoke to a solicitor last week (who is on the children’s board in Northern Ireland) he stated that mothers always have their way, no matter about the father. He also reckoned that there would be no change to the status quo. We can hope, but experience tells me there is no chance of change. Please accept my condolences regarding your lose of your kids by way of parental alientation.

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      • PapaMissingKids · May 4, 2012

        Cityman, thanks for your sympathy. However, sorry buddy, I won’t accept your condolences for the following reasons;
        Just about every day I feel like dying and almost pray to die. But I am NOT suicidal. Whilst the court process is a beast, it is all I can use. And as it happens, my matter is still within the court process. Therefore, I have not given up. I have no intention of giving. I cannot afford to think of doing that. And that is why I do everything I can to stay upbeat. I don’t always succeed but they continue trying.

        You have said earlier that you’re been beaten to the ground by the court process. I can completely understand that because so have I. However I really must suggest to you to stay strong and upbeat yourself. I certainly try to stay motivated and encourage myself as Much as i can and actually try to get others to encourage me as well.
        Onwards and upwards!

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      • J.J.W · May 4, 2012

        AMEN brother! Its a marathon not a sprint! Well done PapaMissingKids for your optimism and strength!

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      • PapaMissingKids · May 4, 2012

        J. J. W. ,
        AMEN Bro!
        AMEN!!

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      • Gregory- · May 6, 2012

        @PapaMissingKids
        Oh this is so true, as almost unreal.

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    • karenwoodall · May 4, 2012

      All, do not let the system beat you down, you have to live and live well, you have to find reasons to laugh, you have to eat well and drink well and exercise, and love other people and watch the seasons change and find people who can help you through this. Do not let the oppression silence you or suffocate you, you are not on your own. Your kids need to survive, when they come looking for you they need to to be there, well and waiting for them. K

      Like

    • karenwoodall · May 4, 2012

      CAFCASS, number one target for education, reform and an injection of humanity.

      Like

  17. Zubair Mulla · May 4, 2012

    so my question is guys, is this legislation now, if i went to the court can i enforce access to my kids… and have a bare minimum of 2 weekends a month, 1 week per every 2 week school holiday, alternative festival days. as opposed to never, in the last 7 months, because the law gives her the right to.

    Like

  18. Zubair Mulla · May 4, 2012

    Well done papamissingkids.. i hear ya..

    Like

  19. Cityman · May 4, 2012

    Hi Papamissingkids,
    I am glad that you are fighting this & I hope it works out in the end for you – for both you and your kids. I often wonder if I had done things differently in the past, things would have worked out Ok – but for me it’s 14 years now. Guess I’ll never really know.
    Anyways, I wish you good luck and you should know that you are not alone.

    Like

    • J.J.W · May 4, 2012

      14 years? How is that possible?

      Like

      • Cityman · May 4, 2012

        My 2 sons who are now in their early twenties do not want to see me – one of them spoke to me a couple years back – said I was a constant disappointment as a father – I told him he had been brainwashed – they really do believe the stuff they were fed by their mother. I find it absolutely amazing how PA can affect young children. We were so close when they were young……………just can’t understand how it happened. That is why I wonder should I have done something differently all those years ago. I did go to court – was left in the foetal position on hearing the news from the court – for me it was a complete waste of time. Really a very long story & very sad.

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      • J.J.W · May 4, 2012

        thats a heartbreaking story. How did they come to the conclusion that you were a constant disappointment as a father?

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      • Cityman · May 4, 2012

        Parental Alientation – Dr Amy Baker has written about it – and others , of course. Looking back now, I can see what was happening. At the time, my head was spinning – completely out of my depth – in just a few short months they were turned completely against me. Their mother would ring me or my solicitor to say that the kids had to do a “sleepover” or something and I was not to pick them up, and not tell the kids – they were left waiting for me to arrive and I didn’t arrive – the next time I was to pick them up there was another excuse – that sort of thing was going on all the time. There is advice now on the web about what to do to couner PA. However, I still wait and hope when they start having real relationships themselves and even have their own kids that they will understand. Actually, I believe that they will have physcological problems in the future. There is always some hope though. But I have read on the web of men saying that they had “cut their kids loose” to preserve their own sanity – I can understand that, althought I never could do that.

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    • karenwoodall · May 4, 2012

      Cityman, do not despair, do not beat yourself up, do not let your life go to waste because of this robbery of your children from you. Life is not static and whilst you are alive your children have the chance of finding you. It make take them time, they may need to grow up and as you say, have their own children, they may need the wool pulling back from their eyes or a shock to the system but never ever give up hope. Living with what you are living with is hell on earth and, if you let it, it will finish you. Don’t let it. Live and live well, find something that fascinates you, something just for you, give something, write something, share something. Too many men (and women) have had their very soul drained by what has happened to you, don’t allow it to take the life you have from you. I am planning soon to find a way to run a support group for alienated parents, you are welcome to be part of that. I will let you know when things are ready to go. Sending support. K

      Like

    • PapaMissingKids · May 4, 2012

      Hi Cityman,
      14 years ago the Internet aka the information highway was in its infancy. Parental alienation was even more in its infancy. 14 years ago we were in a different millennium. Therefore there is no way you could have known what to do differently or better or anything. So therefore please do not blame yourself because it really is not your fault.

      I understand very well where you’re coming from. Two years ago, in my matter, there was a final hearing in the Magistrate’s Court after one CAFCASS report. The report was so much against me that legal aid said they would not pay for a barrister. I only found out a few days before going into court. My first time in court as LIP. And then add to that
      the other side instructed a very prominent and high-profile and very experienced QC against me. I actually went to that hearing wanting to walk away and just finish the court process. CAFCASS and the court said no , we need a review in a few months time. And then I became more involved with FNF and came across more research on PA and the type of work that Karen Woodall does. Since then I have been trying to get the Centre for separated families involved in my matter. It that it hasn’t happened yet but I’m still optimistic. I have to be.

      Thats how it’s been the last two years. Your case, Cityman happened 12 years prior to that. There is absolutely no way that you could have had the advantage of information that is available now. So please do not beat yourself up about it or wonder and go down the “what if?” path.

      Thank you very much for your good wishes-it’s all appreciated, really it is. I also send you my good wishes and my prayers and positive energy that somehow you will also become reunited with your children. I don’t know how, but I do know these things can happen. Somehow. In some way or other. I really do hope it happens to you and others that have had to put up with all this unnecessary pain. I also hope it happens for the sake of your children because it will also possibly relieve them of any other psychological difficulties.

      Good luck. Best wishes. God bless.

      [Karen – I hope we are not sabotaging your blog.]
      🙂

      Like

      • karenwoodall · May 4, 2012

        nope, you are doing what will, ultimately keep you alive and sane and well, the only way to beat this is together, I write because what is being done is wrong and there are not enough female voices saying it.

        Like

      • Cityman · May 5, 2012

        Hi Everyone,
        Thanks for your support. It means a lot

        Like

  20. Zubair Mulla · May 4, 2012

    I havent started using the courts yet, being a british muslim and a practicing one for that matter i thought my faith and the law it resides us to would be the favoured one my ex would have chose considering her family background, however this was not the case and it has been 7 months writing to her solicitor whilst she has crippled all access for me to see my kids, my only option is now to apply to the courts, yet reading so much about everybody i feel that i may be placing my children into a hazardous path of third parties and strange people. I am overly concerned of the trouble fellow fathers hav had and was almost in a feeling of am i just another ticket in the line waiting to go on the rollercoaster, gosh the things some of you guys have written as per yopur experiences, takes the word sanity away from once well loved and known people, its like they chnage rapidly into wolves.. any ways.. it has been a pleasure reading the nlogs karen, whilst the comments themselves have been a very useful tool to deal with the burning feeling in the chest.. thanks to everyone..

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    • J.J.W · May 4, 2012

      Yes I fear you should prepare yourself for what will most likely be a roller coaster ride. Also it is not uncommon for the oppositions solicitor to make things more difficult. I am not surprised that you’ve been writing to the solicitor for seven months and there has been no progress. They love to see these things go to court because that is where they make their money. The more desire you expressing your communications with them to see you a child the more they know that it will probably be a long drawn out battle which they can make money from. Make sure that while this is going on you go out and enjoy your life and live and try as hard as you can to be happy. Don’t let this steal your joy. It is very important.

      Like

    • karenwoodall · May 4, 2012

      Have courage, be well, be strong and be healthy, have faith. K

      Like

    • PapaMissingKids · May 4, 2012

      Zubair Mulla,
      Try to avoid the courts like the plague. However, if it does become the last resort then make sure I got the right support from a good Mckenzie friend – eg thru FNF. You will probably get further with a good Mckenzie friend than a solicitor unless it is one with a lot of experience on these things and you have deep pockets.
      Good luck.

      Like

  21. Zubair Mulla · May 4, 2012

    Thanx guys.. and the same back.. maybe we could all learn to dance and make a commercial of our stance.. anyways I am pretty fit, so if there are any events i will be happy to participate…

    Like

  22. andrew winn · May 5, 2012

    Just received a letter from the family court today, telling me i had to make an application to have my ex wifes recordings of us(which she recorded secretly) heard in court. at a cost of £2oo. i went to the court last week and was told i just needed to ask permission for the recording to be heard. which i did in a letter and then i am told this… what a joke. me ex has accused me of threats to kill my daughter, she accused me of this 14 months after it was alleged to have taken place. she will say an do anything to slow up or stop me seeing my daughter. I am sick of the poisonousness allegations which just seem to get worse over time. over 2 years this has been going on and the courts do nothing to stop this, they use the term in the best interest of the child. they should change it to, IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE MOTHER!!!!!!

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    • John Denbigh · May 5, 2012

      Ridiculous. A judge should be able to exercise judicial discretion to take a decsion on whether to order disclosure of these recordings within the exsting proceedings without requiring a separate application. Why not write back suggestings as much, perhaps along the following lines: I am in receipt of your letter indicating that if I want the Court to hear the Respondent Mother’s audio recordings then I must make a separate application to the Court.

      As this matter is already before the court in the form of an application from me dated ? and the cost of a further application would create difficulties for me, I would be grateful if the court would consider whether it can exercise judicial discretion to take a decision to order disclosure of these recordings within the exsting proceedings, without requiring a separate application at the cost of a further £200.

      Like

      • andrew winn · May 5, 2012

        Thank you for the advice John i will try that. thanks J.J.W

        Like

    • J.J.W · May 5, 2012

      Sorry to hear about your troubles Andrew. That is absolutely ridiculous that they would charge you 200 quid on top of what you’re already paying. It’s just a moneymaking machine. Keep up the fight you will win in the end

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  23. Charlie · May 5, 2012

    After reading about Gingerbread on here I decided to have a look for myself. I noticed that some Dads had left comments on the site which questioned Gingerbread’s stance on shared parenting,even adding that it was apparent that the site’s moderators did not like criticism of the organisation. A moderator had posted the statement from GB’s head, Fiona Weir saying that shared parenting principle should not outweigh the paramountcy principle. The statement seemed very familiar so I delved deeper. Is it me or were these words directly quoted from Liz Trinder of Exeter University? If I am correct in my assumption, it would appear that GB have plagarised, quoted verbatim the beliefs of an academic who I believe is known for her long-held, left-wing and feminist views. Whilst I respect every view on the subject be it feminist or (what’s the male equivalent? Masculinist?)I think it is disgraceful that an organisation which purports to support single parents has such a biased agenda.

    I would encourage all people to ask some searching qustions of Gingerbread and organisations allied to them along the lines of how they support “non-resident” and the like…

    Like

  24. Nigel Dodd · May 5, 2012

    Adding to the comments above, the law (the Children’s Act) is gender-neutral but a phrase in it “so long as it [contact with the other parent] is safe and appropriate” has become morphed by the practice of the Family Courts into “so long as the mother’s state-funded legal team can think of no more false allegations to make of the father”.

    So there is no change needed in the law itself but a huge change is needed in the way the law is put into practice. Karen has suggested “its time to put the hard hats on and get to work” but what practical steps can we take? The working practice of the Family Courts needs to change and the magistrates (and Cafcass) that preside have an awful lot of scope. What can be done to check a kangaroo court system, with no accountability, transparency and a chilling degree of prejudice?

    What practical steps?

    Like

  25. Jane Jackson · May 6, 2012

    Was Shared Parenting supposed to be included in the Queens Speech?

    Like

  26. Jane Jackson · May 9, 2012

    Well I have listened, but all I heard was , flexible working and shared parenting with couples who are together, nothing about separated couples.

    Like

    • John Denbigh · May 9, 2012

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ … peech.html

      A new Children and Families Bill will be one of the major pieces of legislation for the next year to be announced in the Queen’s Speech at the state opening of Parliament. Measures in the Bill will include:
      • Legal requirements to ensure that most children will have a relationship with their father if their parents divorce. Judges will have to ensure children enjoy a “meaningful” relationship with their father if possible.

      Like

  27. Nigel Dodd · May 9, 2012

    Hopefully the link below will give the complete url or is it a wordpress feature to truncate it?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/queen-elizabeth-II/9253404/More-help-for-families-to-be-unveiled-in-Queens-Speech.html

    Again this seems to grant vastly too much power to the family courts.

    Like

    • Jane Jackson · May 9, 2012

      Family Law
      Creating a time limit of six months by which care cases must be completed.
      Making it explicit that case management decisions should be made only after impacts on the child, their needs and timetable have been considered.
      Focussing the court on those issues which are essential to deciding whether to make a care order.
      Getting rid of unnecessary processes in family proceedings by removing the requirement for interim care and supervision orders to be renewed every month by the judge and instead allowing the judge to set the length and renewal requirements of interim orders for a period which he or she considers appropriate, up to the expected time limit.
      Requiring courts to have regard to the impact of delay on the child when commissioning expert evidence and whether the court can obtain information from parties already involved.
      Strengthening the law to ensure that, where it is safe, and in the child’s best interests, children have a relationship with both their parents after family separation. The Government will consult on legal options shortly.”

      http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Queens-Speech-2012-briefing-notes.pdf

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      • Nigel Dodd · May 9, 2012

        ” where it is safe, and in the child’s best interests,” is the phrase the family courts currently interpret as “so long as the mother’s state-funded legal team can think of no more false allegations to make of the father”. Thus the current practice of the family courts is to deem the father guilty until exhaustively proven innocent. Then the false allegations are quietly forgotten about, but by that time it is too late to reverse the alienation.

        Like

  28. Bartholomew · May 20, 2012

    Excellent point Nigel.

    The state currently funds and encourages one parent to put the children in the middle of a bloodbath, but then blames both parents for doing this, and then makes the wise (because convenient) decision to remove dad.

    This blaming of the parents has the other advantage, or course, of deflecting any blame that can be attributed to the way family law is done. (This is why Britain’s new plans to introduce parenting classes are SO dangerous).

    If the so-called rhetoric of child welfare had any meaning, what it should be doing is putting the child in the care of the parent best capable of promoting shared care, and best capable of fostering a healthy upbringing. (But that’s not entirely desirable from the economists’ point of view).

    Like

  29. Bruno D'Itri · June 21, 2012

    Our elected Government plans to bolster the legal right of a child to have a meaningful and on-going relationship with both its parents, post separation/divorce. It recognises that family law, as it currently stands, all too often fails to serve a child’s best interests in this extremely important respect.
    The Children Act (1989) rightly instructed the judiciary to serve the child’s paramount interests. However, the judiciary has singularly failed to understand or accept that a child’s paramount interests are, in the vast majority of cases, actually best served by facilitating and enforcing its meaningful relationship with both its parents. Instead, the judiciary has remained wedded to the archaic ‘single parent’, ‘primary carer’ model; an approach which has, sadly, led to a generation of fatherless children. The judiciary’s approach is out of date and simply does not reflect the modern-day realities of 21st Century shared parenting.
    The aim of our Government’s proposed legislative changes is to make it very explicit to the judiciary that, for most children in litigated cases, ‘best interests’ equates to ‘shared parenting’.
    Let us hope that any amendment to the Children Act (1989) will be robust enough to safeguard a child’s right to be parented by both its parents. Let us also remember that this issue is not about parents’ rights: it is entirely about childrens’ rights.
    Furthermore, let us be absolutely clear that Shared Parenting does NOT, as many critics would have us believe, necessitate a precise 50/50 split of parenting time. This would be highly impractical in most cases. Rather, it is expected to range upwards from 20/80. Another objection from the critics is that it will endanger children. Very plainly, Shared Parenting will only be granted to parents who are not a proven risk to their children. Unsubstantiated allegations made by bitter and disgruntled ex-partners – intent on using ‘their children as weapons’, to coin Sir Nicholas Wall’s expression – ought not to be enough!
    It is a very great pity that the judiciary has failed to be proactive on Shared Parenting. For example, in the case of Re D (Children) [2010] EWCA Civ 50, Sir Nicholas Wall, the President of the Family Division, was presented with no less than 15 contemporary scientific psychological and sociological research reports which demonstrated, beyond all reasonable doubt, the verifiable benefits for children of maintaining close and meaningful relationships with both parents. This irrefragable scientific evidence went ignored or relegated by him. The Government, to whom the scientific evidence was also sent, is taking full heed. This is precisely why our Government – our elected representatives – needs to legislate. Child welfare is far too important to leave in the hands of a few un-elected High Court judges, who often appear to be out of touch with modern society and family life, and who appear to have little understanding of the importance of scientific evidence.
    Best regards
    Bruno D’Itri

    Like

  30. Bruno D'Itri · June 25, 2012

    An open letter to Tim Loughton MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, 24 June 2012:

    The Government now recognises that the paramount interests of a child are served by facilitating and safeguarding its close and meaningful relationship with both its parents, post separation/divorce. In reaching this conclusion, the Government has taken into full and careful account the wishes of its electorate, the realities of 21st century family life, and a plethora of irrefragable psychological and sociological evidence and research, collated over the last decade or so, which plainly demonstrates the emotional, developmental and educational benefits for those children who are permitted to enjoy a shared parenting regime. In short, ‘paramount interests’ equates to ‘shared parenting’ (except, of course, in cases where there is a proven risk of harm).

    The will of our elected Government is clear. It considers that the Children Act (1989) – as well, perhaps, as some judge-made laws which followed in its wake – does not serve the paramount interests of the child in its current form and therefore requires modification and improvement.

    However, regardless of whatever modification the Government makes to the CA, it will be the eventual application of the law by the judiciary which will determine whether or not the will of the Government is enacted in practice.

    What, then, is the best way to ensure that the will of the Government is enacted in practice by the judiciary? In my view, the Government should tap unashamedly into the vast legal knowledge and experience of Sir Nicholas Wall, the President of the Family Division, and of his colleagues in the Family Division of the High Court. The Government should, I would suggest, posit the following very specific question to Sir Nicholas: “In order for the will of the Government to be enacted in practice, what modification to the CA can you suggest?”

    Of course, it may well be the case that the judiciary actually opposes the proposed change! Sir Nicholas has, in the past, voiced his personal objections to a number of Government proposals. Nevertheless, it is imperative that Sir Nicholas provides a comprehensive and constructive reply to the specific question above, rather than simply expressing his personal opinion as to whether or not the CA should be modified in order to promote Shared Parenting. Plainly, it is not for the judiciary to make that decision. That legislative power is for our democratically-elected Government. The duty of the judiciary, I would venture to suggest, is to apply the will of our elected Government – to obey Government – to the best of its ability. For it to do otherwise, either proactively or by omission, would be very wrong.

    Sir Nicholas is fully aware of the scientific evidence in favour of shared parenting. He is fully aware of the benefits to a child of maintaining a close and meaningful relationship with both its parents. We know this because, in the case of Re D (Children) [2010] EWCA Civ 50, Sir Nicholas was presented with a plethora of contemporary scientific evidence and research, which demonstrated, beyond all reasonable doubt, the veritable benefits for children of maintaining a close and meaningful relationship with both their parents.

    To his credit, Sir Nicholas reserved judgment in Re D and gave himself three weeks in which to carefully read and digest this very extensive scientific evidence, running to several hundred pages.

    To his further credit, in his eventual written judgement Sir Nicholas accepted the argument put forward by the litigant-in-person that current family law potentially relegates the harm done to children by giving insufficient weight to the importance of maintaining a close and meaningful relationship between children and both their parents.

    In summary, the judiciary is very aware of the serious harm which can be inflicted upon children when they are denied the right to maintain an on-going, close and meaningful relationship with both their parents.

    However, as was shown in Re D, the judiciary was hand-tied and constrained to apply current law. It could not, itself, introduce the new legal principle of Shared Parenting into the CA. Sir Nicholas has made it very clear that only Parliament has the power to do so.

    Those of us who have lost meaningful contact with our children due to current family law – and who live, day by day, in the soul-destroying knowledge that, according to the science, our children’s futures will be significantly blighted as a direct consequence – very much welcome our Government’s initiative on Shared Parenting.

    However, crucially, the Government should do all that it can to ensure that any modification to the CA will be robust enough to be effective in practice. The best person who can advise the Government on this specific point is Sir Nicholas Wall.

    I respectfully request that you advise me whether or not the Government will be seeking the input of Sir Nicholas on this very specific point.

    Yours Sincerely
    Bruno D’Itri

    Like

  31. Ann f · July 28, 2012

    Hi Karen it is absolutely fantastic about the shared parenting bill. I have just heard from a male friend of mine who has been fighting for over a year for shared parenting that he has lost his appeal. This friend had been involved in his child live since the day she was born over 2 years ago. When the relationship broke down 10months after the birth of his child, the ex told him he can only see the child every other weekend but my friend had to go to court and started seeing his child initially every night from Saturday until Sunday 6pm, he was then awarded an additional night in the interim by a judge totalling 3 days every week. This routine with his child has been ongoing until couple of days ago when he lost his appeal based on mothers allegations of controlling behaviours and also that she was the main primary Carer. Because she said she is the main carer even though my male friend has been caring for his child 3 days a week out of 7 days, she was awarded sole custody and allowed to move .She is now moving about 3 hrs away whilst my friend has been relegated to the every other weekend father. The judges decision was based on the fathers conduct and attitude were such that institution and maintenance of a close proximity shared care regime he proposed would jeopardise rather than foster the benefits of such a relationship in the long term. My conclusion on the matter is moving away does nitially resolve the conflict and the obly person that will suffer is the child. As a professional who works with children under the age if 5 years old the loss of a child meaningful and close with her father is more harmful with serious consequences for the future. So where does a father turn to after this. The best interest of this child has not been considered.A child who has been close to her father every week for the past 2 years will lose out not the conflict which can be resolved if a parenting plan was put into place. Any comment will be appreciated.

    whilst my friend has been relegated every other weekendaway next month. How is n he lost the appeal based on mother’s allegations of controlling behaviours and also that she was the main primary carer

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    • NIgel Dodd · August 3, 2012

      Ann F, It has been a little while since your post so I will jump in and offer what I can. Unfortunately your friend has experienced the normal confused thinking of the family courts. The mother’s stated role as the “main primary carer” is self-appointed and should be discounted from consideration. So also should the entirely subjective allegation of controlling behaviour. Discounting these two claims made by one party is what an objective, unbiased and disinterested court should do but we are dealing here with the uk family court which is none of these things.

      A person (statistically it is usually the mother) who takes a child from the family home for herself can claim the role of “main primary carer”. The current uk family courts can then endorse this self appointed role with a residence order. In the family courts the abductress is rewarded, yet in the criminal courts a parent who takes the child abroad can be given a long custodial sentence. The effect is the same to the child in that the child is robbed of his other parent yet there is a huge inconsistency between the two courts in that one rewards the behaviour while the other punishes it. Lord Judge who is the Lord Chief Justice said earlier this year “The abduction of children from a loving parent is an offence of unspeakable cruelty to the loving parent and to the child” but when asked to justify why the family courts reward the offence he has consistently refused to respond. Such, it would seem, is the accountability of our legal system.

      You are right that the best interest of the child have not been taken into account. To fail to do this is, again, normal for the uk family courts. The “best interest of the child” as perceived by the uk family courts is often a euphemism for the best interest of the mother.

      You asked how it is possible that your friend lost his appeal. I hope this explanation makes sense but I very sorry that it will probably not offer any comfort to your friend and his child who have my deepest sympathy.

      Like

  32. Andy · September 7, 2012

    In this country, family law does not refer to “man” as a carer. The law describes him as someone with “parental responsibility”. It would make a huge difference to our children if we could add the word “care”. The unmarried father on applying to court for “parental responsibility and care” would then be percieved by the court as someone equal to the mother in his child rearing role……………….surely it can’t be that difficult to just change one simple word, Melyssa? Kind regards

    Like

    • Nigel Dodd · September 12, 2012

      What bit of law are you referring to? I don’t think the Childrens Act has any gender bias, but I may be wrong. Is there other legislation that you are referring to?

      Like

      • Andy · September 12, 2012

        Hi Nigel. I will try and describe what I am talking about. Before 2004 unmarried men had to apply to the courts for “parental responsibility” or ask their partner to sign a form which gave them “parental responsibility”. The courts automatically granted the mother “parental responsibility”. I interpret this as discrimination against fathers in favour of mothers.
        Not only does a father have to ask the mother to grant him “parental responsibility, he also has to go to court to get “parental responsibility” if the mother doesn’t want him to have it.
        I don’t know your personal circumstance, but I know of many fathers whose former partner will delibrately obstruct his access to his children.

        I also feel the legal system is littered with terms that are offensive and disagreeable to effective and loving parenting. For example, take the term “contact” when referring to the time a child spends with their parent. No mention of the unique and special personal bond that exists between a parent and child.
        Another term I find hard to swallow is, “Primary Carer”. Just imagine being told after separating from your partner that you are not the primary carer o your children. This patently untrue and deeply offensive to a parent whio has spent proud moments being the loving caring dependable adult in their childs life.

        As has been said before, the law is adversarial by nature, it has to have winners and losers. If you want to maintain family life you have to accept that part of it is to cope with differences of opinion and still maintain healthy bonds for all relations.

        Kind regards Andy

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      • Nigel Dodd · September 12, 2012

        thanks for that clarification, Andy. Perhaps, even worse, is the self-appointed Primary Carer, which has happened when a mother takes a child from the family home to a secret place and keeps the child there thus establishing the status-quo and denying the child a father. Ironically the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge (yes that’s his real name apparently) has said that a person who takes a child away from a loving parent is guilty of an “offence of unspeakable cruelty to the loving parent and to the child or children” and would have it that the abductor faces a prison sentence extending to life. However Lord Judge really only means that to apply to male parents who take children and who take them out of the country. To the child, of course, it is irrelevant whether he is taken abroad. We have the contradiction that a domestic abductress is awarded with residential custody while an abductor going abroad is liable to life imprisonment. That is the Law for you.

        I have written four times to Lord Judge to ask him politely to justify this discrimination. His staff have said that he refuses to reply.

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      • Andy · September 12, 2012

        Hi Nigel. Taking a child away to a far flung place, even abroad seems like a deliberate attempt at alienating the child from the other parent. Makes you wonder doesn’t it !
        Fortunately I realised how very important it was that in order to continue being Dad (otherwise known as Superdad) it was vital that I live close by. Within half a mile in fact. This gives me easy access to pick up and drop off at school and ample opportunity for play and homework. (theoretically at least). Oh yes, thank god for text messaging, the kids do it and so do I, compulsively and repetitively sometimes!
        Back to our Judges. Makes me think their wives brought up their children whilst they spent many important days at the Bar. It’s hardly surprising therefore that there is discrimination against men as carers of their children. If these gender specific roles still exist it’s going to be a long time before the Equality Act squirms it’s way into the family courts. We need men to stand up and be counted. They do so many good caring things with their children and are eminently capable of childcare. It’s just that society portrays him as a drunken football hooligan or compulsive worker/career climber or warrior. Call me strange but I believe my best qualities are to be found in the way I care for my children. I hope that my children in turn will have ample time and opportunity to care for their children. Great thing, ancestry isn’t it. You see celebrites on TV tracing their long forgotten ancestors, and feeling the raw emotion of discovering where they came from and how they came to be who they are.
        Kind regards Andy

        Like

      • Nigel Dodd · September 12, 2012

        Buying a house close-by renders you open to accusations of molestation. You can be phoned up and threatened by the police and have a court order preventing you from going near when all you want is to see your child who has had his father excised from his life and to repair that damage. The courts treat mere accusations by the mother as firm evidence and colour judgement with the prejudice that female parents are inherently good and male parents bad. The y chromosome is obviously an evil thing when it comes to parenting. You are correct that the discrimination is palpable. One such piece of anecdotal heresy is that a judge commented he saw calves in the field only with their mothers not their fathers and so that was the natural order of things.

        Like

      • Andy · September 12, 2012

        Yes being close by can be a problem in that respect. But as long as you are aware of what is going on you can think of intelligent ways to counter those accusations. In fact in the early days, my daughter accused me of being a “Stalker”. It’s just like you say the other parent has begun this horrible process we now know to be “alienation” and is using the children as accomplices in the alienation process………………………….there are many things you can do to counter this, a psychologist, Warshak has written a very useful book called “Divorce Poison”.
        Some of the things I have found useful are: Staying on friendly terms with the people you were both previously friendly with. Staying in touch with relatives on her side of the family. Not criticising your ex, especially in front of the kids. When you don’t agree you can accept her actions/opinions as simply another interesting point of view. There is the third party approach when storytelling to your children. The little gifts you give your children. The reassuring messages. Another place it is essential to maintain good contact with is School. Volunteer your help. I remember talking to year six about my travels to India whilst my son was in the same classroom. You can watch and support/play in all sports and games in which they show an interest. It’s a combination of these things which makes it very difficult for my former partner to run to the police or even denegrate me as a bad parent. I intend to function as a “normal” caring Dad in spite of all pressures to the contrary. KInd regards

        Like

  33. Bruno D'Itri · January 8, 2013

    When parents separate or divorce, the court automatically seeks to anoint one parent (usually the mother) with the legal status of ‘primary carer/resident parent’. It then bestows upon that parent a grossly disproportionate degree of power and control over the children vis-à-vis the ‘secondary carer/non-resident parent’ (dad).

    In many acrimonious cases an embittered resident parent uses this power to exclude the second parent from the lives of the children. The courts are reluctant to punish this abhorrent behaviour, their rationale being that to punish the primary carer is tantamount to punishing the children. With no deterrence, this behaviour is set to continue.

    Quite naturally, an unjustly excluded parent will employ the very costly (£200 plus per hour) services of solicitors and barristers in a desperate effort to regain contact with his children. Truly obscene sums of money begin to flow from broken families into the coffers of the law firms. The Family Justice Industry feeds upon the love an excluded parent has for his children.

    A presumption of Shared Parenting would permit a loving parent to be fully involved in the parenting of his children, post separation or divorce, without the need for costly and lengthy litigation. In Australia, for example, litigation reduced by circa 30% following the introduction of Shared Parenting legislation. Of course, in those relatively few cases where there is a serious and proven risk of harm, contact can and should be restricted.

    Plainly, a similar reduction of circa 30% in British family court litigation would prove extremely damaging to the Family Justice Industry. It is little wonder, then, that the Law Society is vehemently against a presumption of Shared Parenting. Family lawyers are not saints; we should not naively assume that their leaders would place genuine justice for parents and children ahead of their desire to maintain their income stream.

    The judiciary is no better. Sir Nicholas Wall – the former President of the Family Division – sought to blame parents for “using their children as weapons”, without accepting in the least that it is the System itself which facilitates, encourages and fails to deter such abhorrent behaviour.

    The real scandal is that the Law Society and the judiciary appear to have succeeded in persuading our Government to significantly dilute its original Shared Parenting proposals. There is now a very serious risk that the unsatisfactory status quo is set to continue.

    Shame on the Law Society.
    Shame on the judiciary.
    Shame on the Government.

    Bruno D’Itri

    Like

    • Andy · January 9, 2013

      Hi Bruno. I am following your thread with interest. Some wise sage once said, “the law is an Ass”.

      Thankfully there are always other options for marginalised parents to follow.

      Some essentials for me:

      It is essential that we remain of sound mind and to this end there are counsellors and therapists available to us all.

      There are counter-alienation techniques to learn and use. We can try these out on our friends before experimentring on our own real family life scenarios.

      There are geographical considereations to make that will improve our lot.

      Improving our parenting skills is an excellent step that bodes well for our children, and subsequent generations of them.

      None of the above require confrontation nor Solicitors, nor particularly large sums of money, but they do require commitment and time and dedication and flexibility.

      In the case of acrimonious separation I feel that the implementation of the above, honed to our own particular circumstance, will help to rekindle the “being” within us and repair the damage to our relationship with our children.

      Kind regards

      Like

      • Bruno D'Itri · January 9, 2013

        Hi Andy

        Thank you for your reply.

        A positive and reconcillatory mental attitude is certainly a good thing for any father to adopt, but it is not, in and of itself, a panacea for the blatant failings of the Family Justice System.

        History teaches us that powerful and influential ‘special interest groups’ often get their own way, irrespective of what is actually ‘good’ and ‘just’ for society.

        The raison d’etre of the Law Society is to serve the interests of the Legal Industry. Of this, there can be absolutely no doubt.

        The Law Society is perfectly aware of the extensive and compelling scientific evidence demostrating, beyond all reasonable doubt, the significant benefits for children of remaining in meaningful contact with both parents post separation/divorce.

        However, the Law Society is also very aware that Shared Parenting legislation is likely to be highly damaging to the interests of its members.

        The Law Society faces a real dilemma…

        Should it stand up for the interests of children and support Shared Parenting legislation or, instead, should it stand up for the interests of its members and oppose Shared Parenting legislation?

        It has opted for the latter, but is using all of its sophistry and guile to persuade our Government that Shared Parenting legislation will be harmful to child welfare.

        Some Government officials, such as Alan Beith, have been taken in. Other Ministry of Justice officials have also been taken in and have recently stated that Shared Parenting legislation is NOT actually expected to alter outcomes in family justice cases. Its sole purpose, they have said, is to dispel the widely held ‘perception’ of anti-father bias in the system!

        We must do ALL that we can to expose the immoral behaviour of the Law Society in order to serve the genuine interests of thousands of children.

        Best regards
        Bruno D’Itri

        Like

  34. Yvie · January 9, 2013

    I have begun the new year with very similar feelings to you Bruno. The momentum for change which seemed so promising several months ago seems to have stalled and like yourself, I fear that the status quo will continue. There is so much unfairness post separation, where the parent with care receives all the help and support and fathers can be left with an uphill battle to maintain contact with their children. The legal profession makes a living from confrontation between parents so will never support the conception of shared parenting by law. It would be like agreeing to a reduction in their standard of living or like turkeys voting for Christmas.

    I have always supported 50/50 shared parenting by law as the default and cannot for the life of me see how we can move forward on the basis of ‘agreement between parents’ only. There has to be a defined starting point.

    Even the shared residence order which my son has, was initially dependent upon the co-operation of his ex. That she did not succeed in overturning it and reducing it to no contact at all, was due to a good barrister and a fair judge who saw through the false accusations.

    I am glad my grandchildren are now approaching 13 and 9 and that they have a good relationship with their dad, making alienation that much more difficult. However, I take nothing for granted as their mother will always do what is best for her irrespective of the feelings of the children. ‘In the best interests of the children’ – I don’t think so.

    Like

    • Bruno D'Itri · January 21, 2013

      Hi Yvie

      I couldn’t agree with you more concerning the family legal profession making a good living from the present System.

      History teaches us that powerful and wealthy “special interest groups” have direct and very influential access to Government officials and that they often get their own way, irrespective of what is actually ‘good’ or ‘just’ for society.

      The raison d’etre of the Law Society is to serve the interests of the Legal Industry.

      The Law Society is perfectly aware of the extensive and compelling scientific evidence demonstrating, beyond all reasonable doubt, the significant benefits for children of remaining in meaningful contact with both parents post separation or divorce.

      However, it is also very aware that Shared Parenting legislation is likely to be highly damaging to the interests of its members, as profitable litigation would significantly decrease.

      The Law Society thus faces a real dilemma…

      Should it stand up for the interests of children and support Shared Parenting legislation or, instead, should it stand up for the interests of its members and oppose Shared Parenting legislation?

      It has opted firmly for the latter, and is using all of its sophistry and guile to try to convince our Government that Shared Parenting legislation will be harmful to child welfare.

      Some Government officials, such as Alan Beith, have been taken in. Other Ministry of Justice officials have also been seduced and have stated recently that Shared Parenting legislation is NOT actually expected to alter outcomes in family justice cases. The sole purpose of any new legislation, they have said, is simply to try to dispel the widely-held (but, according to them, quite unjustified) “perception” of anti-father bias in the system! Apparently, hundreds of fathers are only imagining that they are not able to see their children!

      We must do ALL we can to expose the shockingly immoral and self-serving behaviour of the Law Society in order to serve the genuine best interests of thousands of children.

      Bruno D’Itri

      Like

  35. Bruno D'Itri · January 21, 2013

    Retired President of the Family Division, Baroness Butler-Sloss has recently expressed her strong objections to Shared Parenting legislation:

    http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/370559/No-50-50-sharing-of-children-in-new-divorce-law-says-top-judge

    There are three major flaws in the views of the Baroness.

    Firstly, she makes the erroneous and very misleading presumption that those calling for Shared Parenting legislation want a rigid 50/50 split of parenting time.

    Most reasonable voices who have campaigned for Shared Parenting (such as Families Need Fathers and The Custody Minefield) have acknowledged for years that a rigid 50/50 split of parenting time would be impractical in many cases.

    Instead, they have called for the significant and meaningful involvement of both parents, in order that the child may benefit from being properly parented by both its parents. Theirs has always been a qualitative approach.

    Of course, in order for a child to have a significant and meaningful relationship with both its parents, it will need to spend some minimum quantum of time with both parents, but this need NOT be 50%.

    Many who are vehemently against Shared Parenting legislation are finding it extremely difficult to counter the widespread and powerful scientific evidence in favour of Shared Parenting. They have commissioned a couple of academics in an effort to discredit Shared Parenting, but the evidence in favour of Shared Parenting is overwhelming. The general consensus among social scientists is that Shared Parenting is beneficial to children. There are parallels with Oil Companies who commission selected academics to try to discredit the evidence for Global Warming.

    Instead, opponents of Shared Parenting are rather desperately (and mischievously) attempting to shift both the debate and their attack upon the notion of 50/50. The Baroness succeeded in getting the Express Newspaper to headline this 50/50 notion!

    Secondly, whilst the Baroness concedes that children benefit from Shared Parenting when their parents are behaving “sensibly”, she states that the children of parents who are not behaving “sensibly” cannot benefit from Shared Parenting, as this would be harmful.

    In the very common scenario in which the court-appointed Primary Carer (usually mum) is upset and aggrieved with any aspect of the separation or divorce, and refuses (or is emotionally incapable) to behave “sensibly” and refuses to facilitate contact , the Baroness suggests that the Secondary Carer (usually dad) should NOT be involved in the parenting of the child. The Baroness appears quite unable to perceive firstly, the injustice of her argument and, secondly, the long-term damage to the child in losing one of its parents. The Baroness gives paramountcy to the wishes and feelings of the Primary Carer mother.

    Thirdly, the Baroness appears completely out of touch with the current Zeitgeist concerning 21st century parenting. She is firmly wedded to the ideology of the 1960′s and 70′s which strongly held that children needed the nurturing of their mothers and the financial support of their fathers. In no other of the Baroness’s judgments is this out-of-date ideology so stark as in the judgment of Payne v Payne (2001).

    Regards
    Bruno D’Itri

    Like

    • Charlie · January 21, 2013

      Well said Bruno.

      Like

    • karenwoodall · January 21, 2013

      Bruno, would it be possible to give us links to the evidence that shared parenting is scientifically proven to be in the best interests of children please? I am interested in this as I have not seen it. Many thanks Karen

      Like

  36. Bruno D'Itri · January 21, 2013

    Thank you Charlie.

    Hi Karen

    A simple google search for “scientific evidence for shared parenting” will give you some of the following sites:

    You’re extremely knowledgeable regarding child welfare post separation or divorce, and I can’t imagine you haven’t come across any of this data. It may be that it hasn’t persuaded you thus far?

    http://sharedparenting.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/12c/

    http://www.thecustodyminefield.com/Reports/FamilyLaw-Relocation_The_Need_For_Reform.pdf (pages 20 & 21)

    http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=scientific+evidence+for+shared+parenting+&source=web&cd=9&ved=0CGcQFjAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aph.gov.au%2FParliamentary_Business%2FCommittees%2FHouse_of_Representatives_Committees%3Furl%3Dfca%2Fchildcustody%2Fsubs%2Fsub0909appc.pdf&ei=grP9UKHAPPKb1AXuh4DgDA&usg=AFQjCNHP38avU08444gTgcf4D7h3Kp69rg

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce/201204/sixteen-arguments-in-support-co-parenting (this is just a summary of Professor Kruk’s extensive research – his full report can be downloaded – I did so 3 years ago, the site may take a little time to find…)

    I presented some of this evidence at the Court of Appeal in 2010 and Sir Nicholas Wall, the former President of the Family Division, accepted its veracity: he concluded that current famly laws potentially relegated the harm done to children by giving insufficient weight to maintaining a meaningful relationship between children and BOTH parents. Aniother High Court judge, Mostyn J, has also made reference to the compelling scientific evidence for shared parenting in the case, Re AR. The scientific evidence was also considered by the international judiciary when it formulated the Washing Declaration.

    Regards
    Bruno D’Itri

    Like

  37. Andy · January 22, 2013

    Single parenting versus dual parenting, sounds like a war.
    Divisionism versus conciliation it’s like the yin and yang of our fragile society.

    Going back to Karen’s original thread about the threat of championing single parenting I want to say I too have experienced this feeling, from being spoken to by a Court Registrar as if I was trying to escape my fatherly obligations. A Solicitor who didn’t want to upset the status quo, “for the sake of the children”, after the mother had already completely upset the status quo in her favour regarding domination of childcare responsibilities. A Cafcass Officer who refused to look at the childcare arrangements I had made for my children, who was able to mis-lead the Judge by writing a prejudiced report. Who persuaded me to forget about all my evidence, “because that was in the past”. A Social Services organisation who showed no interest in me as a parent, who manipulated my daughter in the most horrible and deceitful way.
    It’s all very well to repair “attachment” damage between mother and child, but if you can do this and leave the mother with a notion that it’s all father’s fault, what you have done is “successfully” alienate the father from the family.
    From the moment of egg fertilisation the woman has control over the new life developing inside her womb.
    Even at this very early stage she may be considering:

    Who is the father?
    Who do I think will make the better father?
    Shall I bring this one up on my own?
    Do I want this child?
    Can I fool my partner into thinking it’s his?
    I need support

    Whilst the man who fertilised the egg may be thinking:

    Am I really the father?
    Can I trust my partner?
    Should I allow myself to be happy, because if it’s mine, I am
    Help! Was this a mistake? It’s a lifelong commitment
    I am really proud, I always wanted to be a father

    The power to make decisions rests with the mother, but the father is heavily involved from the start. It seems as though father’s minority role continues throughout the course of his child’s development.
    Personally I think my role is equally important to that of their mother, but society gives me little confidence that this is so

    Like

  38. Nigel Dodd · January 22, 2013

    By comparison, for decades the medical profession has been obliged to show, through evidence-based reasoning, not only the safety but also the effectiveness of the procedures it prescribes. No longer can a doctor prescribe a course of treatment just because he has a personal preference for it. It has to work. It has to be seen to work by objective measure that a third person can repeat for himself if he wants to. Double blind testing, immunity to the placebo effect and proof though statistically significant sample sets have hauled medicine out of quackery into the modern world.

    Unfortunately much of what we dish out to our children in terms of parental arrangements post-separation is still based on myth and superstition and therefore it is not surprising that bad social scientists, politicians, the legal profession and quangos such as Cafcass rejoice in furthering their own interests by rejecting what scientific evidence there is for the benefits of Shared Parenting.

    We allow them to. We do not require their decisions, neither nationality nor in the specific case of one child whose parenting is being decided in court, to be based on evidence-based reasoning.

    Instead the mechanisms of the Family Court are secrecy, unaccountability and free reign to prejudice. We have quackery practised in a kangaroo court.

    Arguably the psychological health of our children is just as important as their medical health yet with one we are obliged to use scientific method while with the other there is only quackery and the kangaroo court system.

    It does not seem to me that anything has changed for a decade. Despite the palliative help of Families Need Fathers and the well-publicised but sometimes ridiculed exhibitions by Fathers for Justice, nothing much has changed.

    As a society we are as advanced in determining the post separation care of our children as medieval Britain was in dealing with alleged witches. Indeed much of the Trial by Ordeal form of justice meted out to suspects of witchcraft is very reminiscent of, for instance, requiring the father to only see his child in a Contact Centre as practised by the family courts today.

    How is it possible to overturn the nexus of self-interested parties intent on robbing our children of a meaningful relationship with their fathers?

    Lobbying doesn’t work, appeals to specific parties within government only reinforces the conclusion that we live in an elected dictatorship, the two main fathers’ organisations have been shown to be ineffective despite considerable activity.

    What else do we have to offer our children? What other routes to a better system are there?

    Like

  39. Bruno Ditri · February 28, 2013

    The ‘Children and Families Bill’ was debated in the House of Commons on 25 February 2013. A transcript of this Parliamentary debate can be found here:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130225/debtext/130225-0002.htm#13022511000001

    Tim Loughton spoke passionately and with much insight about the very real problems many non-resident parents (usually fathers) face in trying to maintain meaningful contact with their children. He was particularly scathing of resident parents who use the ‘system’ to exclude non-resident parents, and of the ‘system’ itself which fails to deter or prevent such abhorrent behaviour.

    In contrast, Sir Alan Beith appeared completely ignorant of these realities. He maintained that no shared parenting amendment was necessary.

    Beith suggested that the Paramountcy Principle would be undermined by the proposed shared parenting amendment.

    Loughton made it very clear to Beith that the proposed amendment plainly specifies that the paramountcy principle remains ‘paramount’ and that contact would not be ordered by the court if there was a verifiable risk of harm to the child. This plain explanation did not seem to satisfy Beith.

    Loughton recounted the fact that, of 3 million family breakdowns in one particular year, 1 million fathers lost all contact with their children. Plainly, this cannot be good for the welfare of those hapless children.

    Loughton explained that the shared parenting amendment was designed to serve the Right of a child to be parented by both its parents.

    In contract, Beith intimated that the amendment served the Rights of Parents rather than those of their children.

    Beith suggested that the amendment would cause non-resident parents to expect 50% parenting time with their children.

    Loughton made clear that the amendment was qualitative rather than quantitative in its design, and that it was plainly non-prescriptive regarding parenting time.

    Beith stated that the popular press was touting the idea of 50/50 time, and that non-resident parents would therefore arrive at the same understanding.

    Loughton stated that the misrepresentation of the amendment by the polular press would not prevent the Government from going ahead in the interests of child welfare.

    As the new legislation is enacted, the press and the general public will need to be educated as to exactly what it entails and what parenting arrangements can be expected by separating parents.

    Overall, I’d say Loughton won the argument.

    Beith’s position remains very closely wedded to that of the Law Society.

    It is no too difficult to speculate as to why the Law Society favours the current status quo and why it is against shared parenting legislation. Plainly, there are considerable vested financial interests in the continuation of non-resident parents going to court to re-establish or enforce contact with their children.

    Precisely why Sir Alan Beith follows the Law Society’s stance so closely requires a little more fanciful speculation, perhaps concerning the methodology and efficacy of lobbying by special interest groups!

    Regards
    Bruno D’Itri

    Like

    • karenwoodall · February 28, 2013

      Can’t see how it will make an inch of difference myself, Judges and CAFCASS have already stated it wont make any difference to decisions and Timpson says its not about doing anything different its about making people think something is different. Getting rid of Loughton was not a coincidence, the coalition government has caved and the road ahead looks as bleak as it ever did. Everyone involved in the parenting after separation field should be aware, its business as usual and after next month there will be not a single group representing separated fathers at the policy tables, its finished for this term, done and over with and Loughton can beas passionate as he likes

      Like

      • andy · February 28, 2013

        HI Karen

        You seem understandbly disappointed. Not much hope for this Bill at Committee stage then? After you have drawn breath I wonder what course of action would make a difference.
        Do we need to make the “children and families bill” something more high profile, put it on the public agenda?
        It’s high time we joined forces with the women who want better recognition in the work place. There has been a lot of publicity lately from women, especially MP’s complaining that there aren’t enough women MP’s. We have the perfect solution for them. Support the “Childrens and Family Bill”. With more men taking their rightful place in childcare (e.g. with equality of paternity/maternity leave) women will become a more attractive proposition in the workplace, especially for those who want to concentrate on their Careers.

        This is an ideal time to talk about how mothers can fulfill their career ambitions and how fathers can take on their parenting role by supporting the “children and families bill”.

        Did anybody see the “Child in our time” programme on Tv last night? A Dad saying that being a father was the best thing that ever happened to him. I can second that statement. Why are all us Dads who just want to be Dads not doing more to tell the world so?

        Are we too busy getting drunk, philandering, playing soccer, wrapped up in our hedonistic activities. I don’t think so, do you?

        Kind regards

        Andy

        Like

      • Cityman · February 28, 2013

        Andy, The thing about fathers, is that they are men & they are completely biologically different from women. They are naturally independant and competitive. These natural functions mean that they do not do what women would do in the same position – ie. be supportive to each other. They try to face it themselves and go a lonely road. The dads I know certainly are not the types you suggest. Our problem is that there does not seem to be a way out as a group.

        Like

  40. andy · March 1, 2013

    Hi Cityman

    Appreciate your comments. I watched a programme last night on BBC called, “child in our time”. They have been following the lives of a handful of families over the past 12 years. I watched closely their behaviours and saw nothing to suggest that father’s part in the childrens upbringing was any less important than the mother’s. In fact I was particularly impressed by the father who had lost his wife to cancer and was bringing up his two children as the main carer. He empathised with his children’s feelings about the loss of their mother and he was a tower of strength for them.

    Although men and women may behave in different ways, where emotions are concerned they both feel the same feelings. Anger, love, hate, jealousy, empathy…are not feelings limited to any particular gender, nor just to humans for that matter. It’s how we express ourselves, how we choose to behave as a result of these feelings that matters.

    Listening to Judge Dame Sloss suggesting family separation is about practical considerations such as, “consistency of schooling” is a complete nonsense to me. For me it’s primarily about keeping those deep-seated emotional bonds intact.

    You say men are naturally independent and competitive. I think men are also gregarious and supportive if they choose to be. They always have been from the time they got together in order to trap the wildebeast so that the family could have good food to live on, to the present where he gloriously parades the coveted trophy around the auditorium showing it off to the delight of onlooking crowds, all smiles and warmth for his fellow team mates, earlier gripes and disagreements at least temporarily forgotten.

    Then I watched the women’s World Cup and saw that they too were capable of such behaviours.

    If you missed it watch Child in our time on BBCi. It’s a snap shot of contemporary family lives.

    Kind regards

    Andy

    Like

  41. Bruno Ditri · March 1, 2013

    We may also wish to consider the position of the Children’s Commissioner, published very recently:

    http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/publications/content_651

    Important extracts from this report include:

    “The UK Government ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1991. This is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty, setting out what all children and young people need to be happy and healthy… it has the status of a binding international treaty. By agreeing to the UNCRC the Government has committed itself to promoting and protecting children’s rights by all means available to it.”

    – and –

    “The legislation governing the operation of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner requires us to have regard to the Convention in all our activities.”

    – and –

    “The most important of children’s UNCRC rights engaged by these proposals are:

    Article 3: the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration

    Article 7: the child’s right to know and be cared for by their parents

    Article 9: the right of a child not to be separated from their parents except where such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child”

    – and –

    “Article 8 of ECHR provides for the rights of children [and] birth parents… to respect for their… family life.”

    Given the Commissioner’s plain duty to abide by these International Articles, one might reasonably assume that she would be in agreement with the Government’s proposed legislation to uphold the meaningful involvement of both natural parents in the life of a child (subject, of course, to the absence of harm).

    Not so!

    Instead, the Commissioner states that…

    “If the provisions are widely (mis)interpreted as a presumption of equally ‘shared time’, there is a risk of greater conflict and litigation focused on parents’ wishes rather than the child’s needs and interests. A number of stakeholders have suggested that a belief that there is a presumption of shared time would lead parents (largely women) to believe that it was pointless to report domestic violence or child abuse. Careful monitoring would be required to ensure the meaning of ‘involvement’ has been effectively communicated to the public and understood, and that neither of these unintended, but very serious consequences resulted from the provision.”

    The Children’s Commissioner somehow seems oblivious to the widely-report fact that, in Britain today, many thousands of children suffer tremendously due to a lack of a meaningful relationship with their non-resident parents. Surely, any legislation which makes it easier for a good parent to remain in contact with their children is desirable?

    Her stance is of little surprise.

    The Children’s Commissioner was petitioned repeatedly in 2009/2010/2011 by campaigners calling for a reform of relocation law. They asked her to intervene because relocation law, in the form of Payne v Payne, relegated a child’s UN and ECHR rights.

    http://www.mckenziefriend.com/2010/04/27/your-numbers-up-payne-v-payne-time-for-change/

    It appears that the Children’s Commissioner opted to ignore the needs of thousands of children who were benefiting from ‘shared care arrangements’ with both their parents, but who were, nevertheless, removed overseas by one parent. As a consequence, the children lost their meaningful relationship with the left-behind parent.

    It should be well noted that, despite the refusal of the Commissioner to involve herself, the Court of Appeal eventually accepted the campaigners’ arguments and ‘reviewed’ relocation law in 2011.

    In conclusion, the Children’s Commissioner fails to recognise the tremendous importance for children of maintaining meaningful relationships with two good and caring parents.

    She fails in her duty to defend and uphold the UN and ECHR Rights of children, specifically:

    UN Article 7: the child’s right to know and be cared for by THEIR parents

    UN Article 9: the right of a child not to be separated from THEIR parents except where such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child

    ECHR Article 8: the rights of children [and] birth parents… to respect for THEIR… family life.

    Regards
    Bruno D’Itri

    Like

  42. Cityman · March 1, 2013

    Hi Andy,

    The love men have for their children is as strong as the love mothers have. But I believe that that love has not been recognised by society. Men who have children, now and moreso in the past work long hours and in past times hard labour to provide for their children. They also protected them. This was out of a very deep love which was not always shown in the way a mother’s was shown.

    When I say men are naturally independant, I mean that they generally do not show “weakness” to other men. Any sign of weakness in the past meant that they were passed over for promotion/jobs. I do accept that things are changing, but the basic biological reasons are still in our DNA.

    Men do come together – as an army – or as part of a workforce (or team) and when they do they are unbelievably strong – unbeatable – and all their natural talents as inovaitors, problem solvers, and willingness to sacrifice their lives comes to the fore.

    Today’s men are changing, but it is slow, and not all men are changing. They face a challenge & will eventually come out at the other end – they have to because a world without men would be a terrible place. But boys are facing a crisis and they also need help. Sorry for being so pessimistic – I hope things improve soon. I’ll check out that BBC programme when I get back.
    Kind Regards

    Like

  43. Bruno Ditri · March 2, 2013

    I’ve just been fiddling with the zoom function of the SatNav on my new Audi (yes ladies… a new Audi!).

    I zoomed right out and managed to get the whole of Western Europe on the screen. This wasn’t particularly helpful in assisting me with my 1 mile journey to the local shops!

    Incidently, as a man, I feel compelled to use the SatNav for each and every journey, even short, familiar routes I could probably drive blind-folded!

    Anyway, while I was fiddling, it made me think about the Children and Families Bill, and about the need to ‘zoom out’ for perspective.

    There has always been a direct link between societal norms and legislation.

    Most significant shifts in societal norms have led to changes in legislation, but this has usually involved a tough struggle!

    Anti-discrimination legislation for people of different race, gender and sexual orientation all eventually followed in the wake of changes in society.

    However, in each case, the resistance from what I shall call ‘the forces of conservatism’ was powerful. There were significant vested interests in the status quo, and those who stood to lose out were not going to accept change without a fight!

    In each case, honourable campaigners for justice and reform were discredited, undermined, attacked and even murdered.

    Martin Luther King Jr’s letter from Birmingham Gaol touches my heart each and every time I read it. It is the quintessential call of any person facing discrimination and demanding justice.

    http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

    Now, I perfectly accept that Matt O’Connor of ‘Fathers 4 Justice’ is NO Martin Luther King Jr!

    However, his argument for justice for children is, in my view, Righteous. It is Good. It is Honourable.

    A child surely deserves to enjoy the love, care and guidance of two good and responsible natural parents.

    The ideology of parenthood of the 1960’s and 70’s saw the mother as the ‘natural’ carer and the father as the ‘natural’ financial provider. Family legislation reflected this ideology.

    Of course, societal norms have now changed. In 21st century Britain, BOTH genders are now viewed as natural carers and financial providers.

    Has legislation fully caught up with this societal change? No.

    Do fathers face systematic gender discrimination? Yes.

    Is this discrimination indirectly perpetrated via the legal constructs of ‘primary carer’ and ‘non-primary carer’? Yes.

    I am a good, responsible and conscientious parent. I know I am, because a judge found me to be so!

    And yet I was forced to endure two periods of separation from my beautiful children: firstly for 8 months and subsequently for 1.5 years.

    I now see my children once a month in a motel room in Eastern Europe.

    Any genuine ‘meaningful involvement’ in my children’s lives has been significantly undermined.

    I am not alone in my experience.

    There are thousands of perfectly good and caring British parents (mainly fathers) who face similar discrimination.

    To the “discrimination deniers”, to those who seek to preserve their vested interests in the status quo, and to those who are simply unaware of the discrimination, I say, think of that child, think of what he is missing, think of what you might say to him if he asked you why he couldn’t see his dad.

    Let us open our hearts and our minds.

    Let family legislation reflect modern parenthood.

    Let us support Tim Loughton MP and his shared parenting legislation in the Children and Families Bill.

    Regards
    Bruno D’Itri

    Like

  44. Bruno D'Itri · March 16, 2013

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