Where it is safe to do so: unpicking prejudice one stitch at a time

The Queen’s speech this week included an announcement on the examination of change to the Children Act 1989

The Department of Education also announced that –

‘With regard to family law, although going to court to resolve disputes about children should be the last resort, the proposed legislative changes in this Bill make clear that parents should work together to reach agreements about their child’s care when they separate. It would also set out that, where it is safe and in the best interests of the child, both parents should be involved with their child’s upbringing as fully as possible

The pace of change is, therefore, going to be slow.  A public consultation will take place and after that an announcement on the changes in the act.  Change, when it does come, is likely to be next year and between now and then, the evidence and the arguments for and against the principle of a child having a meaningful relationship with both parents, will be paraded, debated and decided upon all over again.  Someone, somewhere is feeling decidely anxious about all of this and you can be sure that the proponents of the ‘all dads are dangerous’ syndrome are hard at work doing what they can to influence the outcome.  The phrase included in the government’s announcement this week that best illuminates this anxiety is ‘where it is safe to do so

The sentence ‘where it is safe to do so,’  is one that I have heard repeatedly over the past decade.  The mantra is borne out of the legislation that has governed family separation for several decades and the single parent lobby’s focus upon ensuring that the best interests of children remain securely bound to the best interests of their mother.  This legislation was designed deliberately to ensure that mothers could leave relationships and take their children with them, the thinking being that if mothers could not take their children, they would be forced to remain in the marriage.  Liberating women, from dependence upon men therefore, meant giving mothers the right to make decisions, not only about their own lives, but about their children’s lives too.

Whilst this legislation may (I said may) have been designed to ensure that the most vulnerable mothers were able to leave relationships, it has resulted in several generations of children being separated from any kind of meaningful relationship with their natural father.  It has also entrenched some widely held beliefs about fathers after separation, most common of which is the idea that all dads are dangerous until proved otherwise. Like all stereotypes, a grain of truth, a tiny number of fathers are dangerous, is used to describe the whole, with the result that fathers now face trial by assumption starting on the day of the separation.  The days and weeks after that trial begins, mean that dads spend their time proving that they are not dangerous to their children instead of protecting the precious bond with them.  This is discrimination at its very worst and all fathers, regardless of their conduct pre separation, will face it if the family separates.  Unpicking the prejudice against fatherhood that is woven into the very fabric of our society is going to take grit and determination and the patience to do it, if necessary, one stitch at a time.

A public consultation on the proposed changes to the Children Act 1989 will shortly be underway.  This will consider views on what should change in the children act and why.  For many fathers, already weary of the weight of oppression and prejudice that devastates their post separation relationships with children, the change will be too slow,  for groups representing fathers, the changes will be offensively so.

I too am frustrated by the pace of change, I would like to ensure that the world in which the boys in my family do not have to face the horrors that my husband had to face and which I witnessed helplessly over fifteen years.  I know too however, that the mills of change grind slowly and just as the sufferagettes suffered years of ridicule, prejudice and fear, so too will it take time to unpick the prejudice against fatherhood that is contained in the phrase ‘where it is safe to do so.’  Having worked with families to help them overcome the emotional car crash of separation for the past twenty years however, I am not going to give up now.

I work with dads every day, I work with mums too.  I work with mums and dads who are separating and separated and I work with those with the main day to day care and those without.  I know that both mums and dads can be wonderful parents, I know too that mums and dads can be dangerous parents.  I am aware of the research in neuroscience that speaks of the particular danger that mothers can bring to their children’s lives if their care is dysfunctional.  I am not aware however, of any routine statements that say that children should have strong relationships with their mother after separation, but only where it is safe to do so.

This understanding, of the power imbalance stitched right through the experience of family separation, informs my work with separated families.  It means that I do not approach every father with the expectation that he must prove to me that he is not dangerous and I do not give him labels that make require him to conform to particular behaviours.  To me, every man that I meet in my work is dad first and foremost and understanding his hopes and dreams as well as his fears and fragilities is my major concern.  This does not mean that I value or care for mothers less, each mother that I meet is, to me, a mother first and foremost and her hopes and dreams and fears and fragilities are also my major concern.  In understanding each father and each mother I work with, I aim to help them to achieve for their children, a new way of parenting that protects the relationship that each has with their children.

I know however, that I am doing that on a very uneven playing field. Sometimes I explain how uneven that playing field actually is and how much the discrimination that is faced by one parent can affect their behaviour and their reactions through the separation process.  Sometimes that helps to put the brakes on mothers taking control and, if I can keep them away from the domestic violence lobby or the solicitor for long enough, it can mean a successful transition to post separation parenting in which children maintain good relationships with both parents.  More often however, mothers will, eventually, be advised that if she wants a better deal out of separation, she should utilise the law to gain and maintain control.  Advice being dished out to separated mums by the wise women on a recent Mumsnet thread, suggested that, to ensure that heterosexual women are not controlled by men, they should have their children by sperm donor and keep romantic relationships child free.  On that kind of playing field, I am surprised that I ever get picked to play on the team, never mind achieve any kind of success in helping families to rebuild after separation.

Working from an equalities based perspective it is difficult, if not impossible, not to speak out on the injustice and imbalance that causes fatherhood to be reviled, whilst motherhood is revered.  Especially when it is so apparent that these deeply entrenched beliefs are causing generation after generation of children to suffer the same fate as their parents.  I am not a father however, and I do not pretend to speak for fathers.  If the balance were out of kilter in the other direction, I would be writing and fighting to rebalance it for mothers.   I write and work in the field of equalities and family separation because I understand the injustices that are present and I hate injustice, especially when it impacts upon children.

The announcement this week then, heralds, in my view, the start of something new.  Whilst it is going to be slow going and the arguments for and against change are going to be revisited several times over,  we are going to need to remain focused, determined and steady in our belief.   I  remain of the view that the tide of injustice is turning and that there are strong voices in government in favour of change.  When that change comes, we must make sure that the imbalance and the injustice is rectified so that mothers and fathers are equally valued for the different things that they bring to their children’s lives.  This is not about swinging the pendulum in the other direction, this is about bringing the pendulum, which has swung wildly in the direction of mother = good and father = bad, into a balanced place.

To do that, alongside the bulldozers and the wrecking balls, we are also going to need an eye glass and a fine pair of scissors to unpick the threads of prejudice against fatherhood, that are so fine, we can hardly see them.  Prejudice which causes good enough fathers to be subjected to assumptions and stripped of their dignity in even their children’s eyes.  As a child I have been working with said to me recently, ‘it seems so unfair, mum has all this power and dad doesn’t seem to have any at all.’

Alongside the wrecking crews then, we need seamstresses and tailors who can do the delicate work of unpicking prejudice and restitching equalities based legislation so that what comes out of the other side of all of this is, never again,  the need to end all sentences about relationships between dads and their children, with the phrase ‘where it is safe to do so.’

Whilst the pace of change is slow and frustrating, I still believe that one day, in our lifetime, we will see our children and grandchildren refusing to  subject each other to the brutalisation of separation plus discrimination. And as mothers and fathers their relationships with their children will be visible, valued and supported. When that day comes and the phrase ‘where it is safe to do so’ seems like the oppressive and discriminatory utterance that it is, I will put down my tools and be satisfied.  Until then  I for one will, alongside others, keep on unpicking prejudice, one stitch at a time.

46 comments

  1. Brian · May 11, 2012

    Thank you, once again, Karen for hitting the nail on the head. I suggest we start by changing the language we use from “where it is safe” to “unless it is unsafe”. The logic is identical, but instead of having to prove it is safe to share parenting, it should be necessary to prove it is unsafe to prevent shared parenting.

    Like

    • Charlie · May 11, 2012

      Well done Karen, another well-balanced piece of work. I wholeheartedly agree. Brian, I think your suggestion is spot on too. Yes, that is the nub of the issue; changing the language so that the presumption is: “unless it is unequivocally proven that it would be unsafe for the child to be brought up by both parents”.

      Like

      • karenwoodall · May 12, 2012

        Hi charlie, I did put that proposition to some policy people recently, that if we were going to use such a phrase it should be used for mothers as well as fathers, the concept seemed to befuddle their brain, the immediate response was that we couldnt assume that all separated parents were unfit to parent just by virtue of separation…so why just dads I asked…well because dads are more likely to……and there they stopped, realising in that moment their own prejudice, they had no idea what dads were more likely to do, they had just been fed the line that dads were dangerous. And that is how discrimination works, create fear and loathing about a group of people, not because of anything they have done, but because of what other people say that they have done or might do….

        Like

    • karenwoodall · May 11, 2012

      hi Brian,

      I can see the logic of the change of words but for me the words are just unnecessary or should, if applied to dads, be also applied to mums. Given the evidence on the negative impact that some mothers have on their childrens lives, which is documented, not anecdotal, it is simply discrimination in action to use the phrase only when referring to separated dads. It must change, it will change, how long it will take until change we cant yet know. What I do know is that to even talk about this five years ago would have been inpossible, thats why I know that this is about the long haul and the determination to keep unpicking, however long it takes. Best wishes Karen

      Like

      • Johnnie · May 22, 2012

        Hi Karen,

        From my experience, the law itself has good intentions but it is the implementation of it that is a serious problem. The implementation of “where it is safe and in the best interests of the child” is sensible and logical as it must always be in the best interests of the child and the child must always be safe. No one can argue with that. The problem is that such language leaves a case wide open to abuse by experienced and sly litigators. Those of us who have experienced this first hand know very well how easily an allegation or 4 can be made within court proceedings, and everything halts while they are being investigated, and the resident parent pretty much controls the amount of, and setting for, contact with the non-resident parent until the resident parent proves he (usually a he) is not violent, hasn’t sexually abused anyone, isn’t an alcoholic/drug user and other similar. By the time anything is decided “in the balance of probabilities”, new allegations are made or at the very least, a new status quo has been established, and we all know how reluctant the courts are to mess with the status quo, regardless of how this status quo was arrived at. Before I had experienced the above myself, I would have never dreamed that outside of Hollywood movies, it was possible for a person to be assumed to be guilty of something, with absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

        How else, without changing legislation to put the emphasis on the accuser to prove their allegations, can we stop this sort of thing, which in my opinion, is at the centre of issues we have in the family court system?

        Of course, there is the issue of allegations made which are NOT false and mean that a child must be protected. This is an issue that cannot be ignored in this discussion. If evidence of danger to a child is absolutely necessary before anything can be done, then where there is no evidence available but there is still a danger, this could be disastrous. The problem is, this is exactly the implementation of the law for resident parents (usually mothers). E.G. I made allegations that my child’s mother had moved a dangerous partner in to the family home and the general response for months was that there was nothing that could be done without evidence as long as mother was saying they were ‘only friends’. Then he put her in hospital after giving her a very serious beating that very nearly killed her and he was charged with GBH with intent. CAFCASS and Social Services were both involved. My point being that had allegations been made that my partner was a danger, I would have, at best, seen my child in a contact centre “in the best interests of the child.”

        Here lies the inequity.

        Like

      • Johnnie · May 22, 2012

        By the way, I kept going and never gave up and eventually got the Shared Residence Order that I applied for. I now have a fantastic relationship with my child and we see lots and lots of each-other. She has her own room at ours and has 2 homes. I am the same person I was then, i.e. I wasn’t dangerous then and I am not dangerous now. I am a loving, devoted, doting father and a kind, generous man.

        The irony of it all is that when I stopped to look back at my relationship with my child’s mother, it was I who was abused both psychologically and physically. It was I who lived in fear for much of the time and had to hide friendships that she wouldn’t allow me to have. It was I who could not be myself. It was I who was blackmailed out of getting along with my own mother. Was there any organisation to step forward and offer to help me when I was there? Not that I know of. Was there a refuge for me? Not that I know of. Was there even a platform for me to tell my story so that others would feel more confident to come forward? Not that I could see. I suffered for too long and am left not wanting to go near another relationship after my experience.

        Like

      • PapaMissingKids · May 22, 2012

        Johnnie,
        It’s almost as if you are talking about my relationship with my kids mum!

        Like

  2. Sam Wilson · May 11, 2012

    This is an excellent article. My children have been raised by both parents but if we were to separate they would still need the care of both parents. I have seen so many cases of women using their children as a weapon of revenge against an ex partner. I’ll never forget the words of a friend who was one such child, whose dad died not long after their reunion and I asked how she felt about what her mother had done. “I have to forgive her because if she had any idea of the pain she caused me and my brother she would never have done it.” She shouldn’t have been allowed to cause that pain because children hide feelings to stop hurting a parent.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · May 11, 2012

      hi Sam, how sad that your friends dad died but at least they were reunited, so many are not. I hope that people pulling together now and pushing for change, married , separated, whoever, those of us who know what is going on is wrong can change it. The Berlin wall came down, so can this one. best wishes Karen

      Like

  3. Chris beard · May 11, 2012

    Please keep up the good work karen, you appear to be the only person realising the pain we and our children are facing.
    Are there many allies on your panel with no fathers on? That is in itself discrimination ? I too have lost two children to the current brutality, the fight has to go on tho, for our sons generation to be treated equal.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · May 11, 2012

      hi chris, i will keep going and so will CSF and all of us working for equalities. I am so sorry to hear about your children and send my support to you.

      Is the panel that you refer to the one that was listed on F4J this week? If it is there has been some confusion I think, the lists that were published were not the Ministerial Working Group on Shared parenting, they were a DWP group working on services to support the making of private agreements for child maintenance and the other one was a group which met twice ahead of the consultation on changes to the Children Act. The Ministerial Working Group is made up of five Ministers, three of whom are men and two of whom a women. I am not on that group and neither is anyone else I know. I too got confused about people demanding that I resign, from a group I wasnt part of! Best wishes Karen

      Like

  4. pauldmanning · May 11, 2012

    Hi Karen and thanks for your new thoughts.

    I too was struck by that sentence in the Queeens speeech, “where it is safe to do so”, as usual its application was more so meant for fathers im’ sure, well if you read between the lines it does. It seems to me, on researching what the ‘wise law makers’ meant by this, that such an inclusion of that statement in the family law will change nothing at all! I believe that such a meaningless wooly expression as this will still be applied to us ‘potentially dangerous fathers’ and i’m sure it was us they had in mind when it was formulated. Given that today in London 2 chldren were found, evidently smothered to death by their mother, it seems to me that the said expression should apply equally to mothers, but we all know it won’t be. I’m sorry Karen, but I see little reason for optimism in regard to fathers getting equality, the words banded about recently by those in the know, (MP’S and the like) seem to be shrouded in some kind of airy fairy mystery, nothing in these proposed ammendmets seems to have real meaning for us fathers. However, what IS taking place is tokenism, it is the attempt to placate us fathers, it is scraps thrown on the floor for the dogs to lick up to stave off total starvation, just enough to keep us hoping and alive, as it were. I just got back from court again, my 25th visit in 4 years, after winning my appeal I hoped things were going to be different, they were not! I have been put back on the emotional round about again, the gravy train goes on and the Judge just ordered new reports, this for the 3rd time! You see what that expression really means, “if it is safe to do so” is to keep making dad jump through as many impossible hoops as he can, and even if he does his tasks succsessfully and gets them right, well then lets just make him do it all again until they get the desired result they want, and that is…. dad WE REALLY DONT WANT YOU TO SEE YOUR CHILD, DONT YOU GET IT YET? There IS no real justice for fathers, and nothing will change, unless we make it change, by force, by action and by demonstration, this conclusion I have reached today based upon facts and the corruption of the system. I am sorry Karen, but we are all dreaming, and they just don’t care. Respects to you, and thanks for all your help. Bye.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · May 11, 2012

      dear Paul, I know that this has taken its toll and all of your heart and soul is crushed and I am sorry too that the round of reports goes on and on. i know that you hoped it would be different this time, its so hard when hopes are raised and dashed. i dont have the anwers to the horrors that too many dads and kids go through, I wish I did, I only have the belief that the truth will out and that justice and fairness will overcome the misery that you are suffering. i am only one, but there are others and there will be more and more as time goes by. Dont give up hope, you are wounded and exhausted but do not give up hope, if you do, that light that shines for your son goes out and when he comes to find you, and he will, that light is what will keep him safe. Sending you my support, I am sorry that I cannot be more help than that. Best wishes Karen

      Like

  5. Jane Jackson · May 11, 2012

    Karen,
    You are of course correct, change will be slow, but it will be change.
    The focus has to be on the children and their right to a loving and caring relationship with both parents.
    I have said many times before, we are looking at a cultural change, denied contact has to become sociably unacceptable, as unacceptable as drink driving.
    Jane

    Like

    • karenwoodall · May 11, 2012

      i absolutely agree Jane, when it becomes culturally unacceptable to discriminate wilfully against fathers and fatherhood, then we will know that change has come. Best wishes Karen

      Like

  6. Clare · May 11, 2012

    Keep up the good work Karen, I truly hope that in time things will change for all fathers denied contact with their children and that term *if it is safe to do so* is well and truly bulldozed and replaced with something more appropriate.
    Clare

    Like

    • karenwoodall · May 11, 2012

      i Clare, perhaps something along the lines of ‘all children have the right to strong relationships with their mum and dad after separation’. Its quite simple and not rocket science but it seems so hard for others to understand. I hope it will change in the months and years to come I really do.

      best wishes Karen

      Like

  7. Jeff Bull · May 11, 2012

    Another excellent article Karen highlighting these very important issues.

    I can understand Paul’s scepticism about it, but the potential amendments to the act have to be a step in the right direction.

    It would of course have been better if the change in direction towards equality could have been more immediate and less open to sabotage by the ‘all dads are dangerous’ brigade but at least this announcement and the process that follows should initiate some healthy discussion which will hopefully bring about change.

    However, I am disappointed that in addition to promoting the relationships between children and both of their parents, so far as I am aware there is no specific mention from the government about also promoting the relationships between children and all of their grandparents post separation.

    Equally, I don’t believe that there is any mention of ensuring that relationships between siblings are maintained, since the deliberate ‘parental alienation’ of a ‘target parent’ can also result in the alienation of any children living with them from their siblings who remain with the ‘alienating parent’.

    This is something that has occured in my own situation, and whilst I am hopeful that one day my youngest daughter will realise what has happened to her and seek out me and her elder sisters, that realisation is likely to come too late for their paternal Grandparents who are already into their 90s.

    In the meantime, how and where do dads in similar situations as me find family counsellors locally such as you Karen who have the skill, experience and unbiased approach which would enable them to attempt to resolve situations like this which are potentially so damaging for the children involved?

    Like

    • karenwoodall · May 11, 2012

      Hi Jeff, If I had my way there would be an army of counsellors and therapists and parenting coordinators up and down the land, one of the things we at the Centre for Separated Families are doing right now is training early years workers in equalities based services, we are developing a social worker course and also a practitioner course on parental alienation all of which we will be making available over the coming months. We intend to get as much info and training out there as we can, as quick as we can because right now there are so few of us with this kind of mindset, too few of us.

      the fracturing of family relationships through alienation is very common, it goes across generational lines and also through sibling relationships. Once it starts it is like an infection that spreads and the only way to deal with it is rapid and sustained intervention.

      I am curently delivering workshops on PA for FNF, the next one is 26/27 May in London, you will need to contact Chiatulah at FNF if you are interested.

      Best wishes

      Karen

      Like

      • Kat · May 12, 2012

        I agree that an army of councellors etc would solve a multitude of problems or even better prevent them occuring in the first place. However how would you tacle cases where there is either a refusal to engage with councelling or sabotage of the process?

        Sibling issues I find particularly difficult to tacle. While it is possible to explain to the rest of the extended family that the children are being alienated, I have no idea how to talk to their siblings and explain to them why their siblings are no longer comming. I will not lie to them yet I dare not tell them the truth either for fear of damaging reconcilliation

        Like

  8. stephen callard · May 11, 2012

    Paul how right you are mate, i am being hit with the emotional fraction too by the cafcass guardian appointed to our children, and to put it bluntly her attitude from the outset was to wind me up, i was accused of being abusive yet not one word of abuse came from my mouth, i was frustrated by the lack in care and the conduct that was so unprofessional it would shock anybody who would here our conversation. she continually spoke over me no joke refused to listen and just kept talking over me, here is my insight.

    The mentality of the cafcass. got off the phone to the guardian of the children and the call was not good, i wanted to know about the provisions she has made to persuade my son to agree to see me and she refused to talk about him. i asked about what was done about [name] being arrested for shop lifting and was told the matter has now been dropped, i asked for the Dr’s name and address of the children and i have been refused this too. She went on to say the call is being recorded, i said this was good as i will be requesting a copy. She continually spoke over me and i was accused of being abusive even though i never swore once. it was a battle of who could talk the most, she just wasn’t willing to hear me out on any issues i was asking of her, “but it is her job to report and be a voice for the children which she clearly isn’t doing at all”. She claims “we are where we are as the judge says and there is no point harassing her about matters that should be dealt with in court”. So i relayed to her her jobs description that she is there for the children’s voice, and “how is it in the best interests of the children by not giving one parent with PR information regarding the children”. And i then asked about school as this was an issue and i was told of the good that has apparently come with school ie: [name] enjoying her Beauty and styling course and [name] is happy that he doesn’t have to do any exams as of yet. The call was relay a total waste of time, she kept harping on about not receiving my letter that should of been there by 6th may, but this was a bank holiday for one, and two this letter is a large one. I asked her when will i know of the dates for contact and she said “maybe in a couple of weeks i don’t know as i had to put a referral in” I said “well its been nearly three weeks and how am i supposed to get 6 sessions in before August if they don’t hurry up.” She then tried to suggest that it was my fault because i hadn’t sent her the letter to her. So i asked “that if she does not get my letter then contact wont be given is that what your saying now” And she said no and then said “i don’t just have your case i have many new cases being added all the time that i have to report on” so i said to her “that now our case is going through the center she’s finished with it and our case is no longer a priority well you said to me at court if i have anything that i want to know you said think Jenny think Jenny well i have tried to contact your for over a week and you hadn’t returned my calls and now i feel you don’t care about the children all you care about is getting money by setting up new cases” she then tried to justify being paid to do this work bla bla bla what a sham these people are. They say they act in the best interests of the children. so i told her what she actually does “she creates revenue and that’s it” I then said she couldn’t find anything to suggest i was a risk to the children and as such could only report i was emotional, and this is the only reason she had to recommend the contact center. I explained to her the wide change in [name] thoughts about me in the last few months should be looked at in much more detail because i believe parental alienation is at work here and its her duty to investigate this abuse. She mentioned that [name] shoplifting so soon after seeing me in April was suspicious however she felt it was not connected to me, well i know this and tried to explain my views on this matter but she never let me, as now the call was affecting her speech she kept coughing and saying she had a bad cough this week, “so what” i felt like saying, I kept saying to her all she has to do is listen but she refrained from doing so and continued to talk over me repeatedly so i then said “Jenny jenny Jenny we are both very good at talking over each other why don’t you just listen to what i am asking of you”? It was like she was programmed to just antagonize me to get me to become “abusive” I refused to let her actions irate and started to wait for her renting to end, then ask my questions, but it was no good she then went into replete mode repeating “this call is not getting anywhere and for me to keep inline to the courts orders and too end the call. This behaiviour just about SUMS UP CAFCASS IN A NUT SHELL “MONEY GRABBING, POLARIZING ALL FATHERS IN COURT BATTLES TO GENERATE REVENUE, THEY DON’T CARE TWO HOOTS ABOUT THE WELFARE OF THE CHILDREN OR THE OUTCOMES OF ORDERS MADE.

    So now i’m writing her a letter requesting a copy of our conversation, and to express my view about her conduct. I am disgusted they would resort to winding up a father just to try and get me to react in a negative way so they could then use it against me in the next court hearing to justify per longed involvement in the case thus raking in more revenue. i’m proud of myself that i could see her tactics and never rose to her drone voice overriding mine and as a father with PR asking why she refrained to give my details to help me feel at ease the children are doing ok with health and schooling.

    Like

    • pauldmanning · May 12, 2012

      I feel sorry for you Stephen, I know what you are going through. To complain against Cafcass though will only further frustrate you and cause you more anger, not that you aren’t right in doing this, but the complaint, no matter how well founded, will come to nothing I assure you of that. All Cafcass complaints are dealt with internally for the first 2 initial stages. If after this you still can’t agree, then it will be looked at by a so called “independent investigator”. However, this new investigator will not be truly independant of Cafcass at all, but will have been instructed and biased by the Cafcass office. Stephen, take my advice my friend, don’t waste your time in complaining against these egotistical monsters at Cafcass, the more you do, the more it will be used against you. ‘This isn’t right!”, I hear you say, of course it isn’t right, but stephen, you have to realize the system is so stacked against you, if you try to fight it, I assure you, you will go insane. Take your punishment like a good boy, do all they say, obey every word, accept all debasement and humiliation from them, then and only then, will you stand any chance, at all, of seeing the one you love. Sorry stephen, but if you buck the system, you will lose mate, how terrible it is for me to say that and how sad.

      Like

  9. dermo · May 12, 2012

    “where it is safe to do so”….indeed. remove it.

    or on the other hand why not put it into the marriage vows that couples make?

    “do you…take A .to be your lawfully wedded wife where it is safe to do so…”? domestic violence is a feature in some couples lives (sadly) so why not acknowledge that in their marital vows?
    its absurd.
    its like saying “ice is cold”. its obvious that children need to be protected from risk in intact families and separated families.

    is there any evidenced based research on this? ie is there any comparative research around the incidents of abuse in intact families versus those in separated families? by that i mean “proven” domestic abuse?
    if there is and it shows a disparity re. separated families and the risk being from the parent who has less parenting time (guess who?) then presumably there is an issue to be addressed?
    until there is any evidence of such a risk why should it be referred to?
    .
    this is ironically the witches stool for separated dads.it promotes inequality on the basis that this in itself addresses the historical and current inequalities and oppression of women that exist in this currently unhappy little state.

    It reminds me of the busing policy adopted in America in the 70s. Poor Irish kids from the blue collar white ghetto of “southie” in Boston transported to poor black areas and vice versa to appease the liberal conscience of the liberal middle classes whose kids skipped off to private predominantly white schools each morning. A shallow absurd piece of tokenism which did little to address an issue that deserved courage, societal change governed by wisdom and insight and that side tracked the fruits pf the sacrifices of the civil rights movement of the 60s.

    thanks for this article Karen. slow progress is better than none.

    It may in many respects be too late for my little ones but if slow change means that when they are fighting to maintain a relationship with their children society and law has changed then the hard road many have trod will be worth it. Bakers research suggests that PA is inter generational and that many alienated children will hitch up with an alienating spouse (like me).

    When the law does change i will open a bottle of Havana Club and light a cohiba. Sorry for injecting political leanings (we all need our succor where ever that may be).
    I will think of Che and Fidel in the mountains Tired, hungry and almost beaten.with 18 companeros left from a landing party of 83..
    I will dream of the day when my adult children will join me on Maggies porch in Colon, across the road from the police station and spend the night drinking rum, putting the world to rights and listening to the music wafting through the town. We will raise a glass to every man and woman who has joined and fought for a certain cause. A cause close to our hearts.

    Breaking the chain of abuse?
    Breaking the walls of a system that denies our children love?

    We have our personal pain and i have read of many on here who have entered the world of past tense rather that present tense where i reside. I may join you along with other parents and children but wherever we sit never lose sight of the contribution you can make. I get immense support, encouragement and learning from a dad who has not seen his girls in two years and who is still engaged in the circus that rolls into town daily in this country.
    such people are like gold dust.

    keep your eye on the prize.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · May 13, 2012

      I absolutely agree with you, keep your eye on the prize and never let it waver for a moment. There are some who would say that my willingness to work with slow change is a cop out, a sop to the government. But i know that the legislation is so tightly bound and the forces ranged against change are so massive and so powerful and so wealthy that voices like my own are essential right now. Strange that the people speaking up in government are Conservatives, the Labour party is riven with gender discriminatory policies, Che would turn in his grave.

      K

      Like

  10. missingmybabies · May 14, 2012

    Hi Karen, just a quick update on my own situation and the Court Hearing that occured on the day of the Queens speech.

    I arrived at the Court to be informed by the Guardian solicitor and Counsel for mother that neither the Guardian or mother were present (This was the third time in a row for mother and something that didn’t seem to worry anyone). I was told by the Guardian solicitor that the legal commision had refused to pay the 8000 pounds required to subsidise the expert’s report, and were infact requesting that i should pay a third. I have always objected to yet another expert, my arguement being that i had already had two as requested by mother and both had returned near perfect. Sadly, i felt very bullied by both Guardian solicitor and Counsel for mother and decided to walk away before the Hearing began. I had explained to them that i was not in a position to afford this as i was finding difficulty in raising the money required to have Contact with my three dear children (£280 referral fee and £75.50 per hour after) and also that 44 Court Hearings in three different Counties had taken a heavy financial toll. I asked them if we could compromise and perhaps ask the Judge to appoint a cheaper expert, but this was just laughed at. Long story short – I walked out !

    2 days later, i recieved a letter from the Guardian solicitor and the latest Court Order made in my absence. The solicitor letter stated that the Guardian had decided to request from the Court a Section 91(14) ceasing all Contact between the children and myself for the remainder of their minor. Her reason for this was that further Court proceedings will create instability in the children ! The Court Order stated that the full and final Hearing dated July is abandoned and furthermore that ‘the Court not being prepared to determine the application in the children’s welfare interests without knowing the Guardians intentions’

    So it seems Karen, on the day that i have prayed would arrive (the Queens speech) my 4 years of Hell were quickly determined by an evil lady (Cafcass) that i have spoken to for a maximum of 20 minutes in my whole life. A woman that refused to hear any of my concerns for the childrens welfare and wishes. A woman that ignored my childrens pleading to return home to be with their daddy and all of their family and friends.

    I have seen my children for 24 days in 4 years and quite frankly for someone that has never done a bad thing or said a bad word, this has been a surreal world. I have no idea where i go from here? The agonizing thought of ‘the next Court Hearing’ was the only thing that kept me sane and pre-occupied from going mad with the injustice of it all.

    Pity all the little Children born into a society that we have created !

    Like

    • pauldmanning · May 14, 2012

      Dear Missing my babies.

      I continue to hear and read comments like yours time after time. The evil story goes on and on about the injustices perpetrated by the likes of Cafcass guardians and their contempt shown towards good fathers like you. Their is something very strange and hidden from us all that is going on, some conspiracy coming from some secret agenda that we are not party to. Some will say I am being paranoic in such reasoning, but nevertheless it is what I have come to believe because their is no other reasonable explanation for it, other than the state seems to have a policy to get rid of fathers by any means they can. The extreme ideas that come from Cafcass guardians go opposite to how a father should show interest and love in their child. As examples of this, I was told that if I asked my child about his schooling or his education then the contact would be halted. I was told not to write the words “I love you”, or “I miss you” in my letters to my son. Of course I refused to adhere to this cruelty and debasement, so I gnored it. However, when I wrote these words in a letter to my dear boy the letter came back to me with a note from the guardian telling me to change it and to leave out any mention of our holidays that we had together and his toys, that I still keep for him, that I had also mentioned. My son never got that letter because I refused to obey their wicked demands. Some will say that we fathers make up these stories, but I can say on my honour that I am telling the truth. The whole idea of Cafcass is to isolate the father from the child and to try and purposely break the bonds of love with our children. I am not speculating here, the intention is to make fathers pay now to see thier child and I myself was sent a contract to sign by the guardian in the sum of £790 for 2 hours contact. If some here do not believe me I am perfectly willing to supply them with a copy of the contract and happy to expose the evil going on abourd the gravy train. We will not receive any justice in our life time, the light weight words banded around about change are not meant neither are they meaningful in any way. The system is beyond fixing and I assure you the powers that be, want it that way. The evil going on makes me ashamed to be British, I am no longer proud of my child stealing country it has become corrupt from top to bottom. Do not believe the absurdities offered to us fathers, they will not happen in our life time. I am ashamed of this state of ours. The way to change is by force and action so that we can protect our children from our own state. Nothing will change unless we fathers get together and force the change. Che would not have put up with the child stealing going on, and we consider him and Fidel to be bad,,,, thats a joke!…. they are my heroes. They made the change, because they cared and we must do the same here in our own terrible country. I am not an extremist, but my ideas have been molded by experiencing the wickedness of Cafcass and the family courts. Once you realize whats going on you begin see the light, I have seen the light now after 4 years of being belittled and humiliated. As I say it is not a coincidence that they are snatching our kids, it is the actual policy of our country. We fathers have become weak and our positions have been demoted in these modern times, we are not needed anymore. The country will end up with many fatherless families and we shall continue to take the back seat unless we act.

      Like

      • Jeff Bull · May 15, 2012

        This reminds me of the Bob Geldof documentary ‘Geldof on Fathers’…….when he was advised by another father not to tell the High Court Judge that he loved his children…….it is readily available on Youtube and well worth watching…….Bob tried to save the world…..but that counted for nothing when trying to do the best he could for his own children!!!!

        Like

  11. stephen callard · May 14, 2012

    Cafcass is indeed plain EVIL!! all of them after my dodgy interaction with my children’s guardian i feel i too will now loose big time and all rights to contact. these Evil people need to be placed on a rocket and shot to the moon to die a slow and painful death. only then will absent parents get justice.

    Like

  12. John R · May 15, 2012

    I have too had some pretty awful dealings with CAFCASS.
    The bias, and automitic presumption that you are a danger / threat to your ex until ‘proven’ safe, is beyond words.
    You have absolutely no chance when every single thing is stacked against you.
    Your Ex, CAFCASS, thier Barister, their Solicitor, and the Judge, are all battling to keep you from seeing your child.

    If you are a litigant in person, you are alone, and before these people who are against you. The system is unfair beyong expression, i belive one day it will go down in history as the single most damaging and inhumane travesty in British Judicial History.

    CAFCASS are misguided. I cant belive that CAFCASS officers are evil. They are brainwashed.
    They probably enter the job like you and me, but are quickley conditioned into the foul and abhorrant belief system that advises the Family court.

    It is a machine that is lubricated on greed, hatred, gender bias, lies, and distrust. It is difficult to belive that in modern humanity this is allowed to continue.

    Family disputes should not be set in a gladitorial arena, and parents pitted against each other, with the added ‘backup’ of friends such as CAFCASS, solicitors, barristers, and Judges.

    It is a sad and difficult time, the adversarial and two sidedness needs stripping from the situation immediately. And a calmer, more measured, and restricted route needs to be taken.

    Family breakdown is heartbreaking. Its the single most soul destroying thing you can go through. To see your children taken from you as they are looking back to you is painful to the point of suicide or worse.
    And then add to that the fact that to see their faces again you have to beg in family court, you are faced with unsurmountable torture.

    This rhetoric may seem extreme, but to anyone who knows what im talking about this is mild.

    It has been 15 months since i have seen my little 4 year old boy. As i left for work one tuesday morning in january 2011, i hugged him and told him i would see him at teatime.
    His mother left that day and moved 500 miles away. I came home to an empty house.

    I dont know if i will see him again. But one thing is for sure, i will not give up.

    Like

    • Charlie · May 15, 2012

      Hey John R, good for you. Totally agree with all of your post. Don’t give up – I shan’t either, not until my little girl regains her rights to see both her parents.

      Like

  13. stephen callard · May 15, 2012

    yep everything stacked against us, i spoke out about the secrecy of the court in my case on my facebook account and now the mother is using this to apply for a prohibited steps order against me, i’m supposed to go to court on the 21st this month but not sure i need to be there? where i did comment it is clear i commented about the case but it was not malicious just factual, but know this will go against me so has anyone got any advice about this or have i shot myself in the foot??

    Like

    • John R · May 15, 2012

      Stephen, delete all posts, and never put anything on facebook again, and any other social media for that matter. Social media is being used more and more as ammunition against parents, (men and women). Absolutely anything, no matter how small, is used.
      My advice to anyone is hold your tongue at all times accross all mediums.

      The problem with family court is the secrecy. And how that secrecy is used as blackmail.
      If you talk about any details of yoru case to anyone, its contempt of court.
      If you talk about the injustice, its contemp of court.
      If you try to explain to others the struggle you are having, it is contempt of court.
      If you try to raise awareness of your struggle, its contempt of court.
      If you speak out about the gross imbalance of the case, its contempt of court
      If you express any concerns to others about the damage that its doing to your child, its contempt of court.

      Contempt of court will damage your case, and your chances of seeing your child.
      It is blackmail of the ugliest kind.

      Like

  14. stephen callard · May 15, 2012

    Thanks John, oops i’m in contempt of court then as i was explaining to a friend whats happening, the steps order has already gone through and she has a printout of the comments, i can remove them and will but the court that’s set for me to attend is 21st do you know if i have to be there or not and if i don’t go can i be arrested for not attending?

    Like

  15. dermot allister · May 15, 2012

    where it is safe to do so… hate to say it like a pinktape groupie but wheres the evidence? intact families/separated families? is there evidence to support this? are children more at risk in separated families? if so is that from the parent who has least parenting time?

    i will be voting Tory on this issue alone. my old man will be spinning in his grave but as always he would understand.he was a man of great dignity and his love and care for his children was his priority.

    Its an interesting alliance. its based upon personal experience and child welfare and because of its emotive element it trumps all other personal priorities.

    the love of children and their need for love is not a prerequisite of any political hue. Labour though have sold their soul as they have many times since power and money made them embrace the grand culture and lose their moral compass.there is more than that of course that led them to their gingerbread leanings. noses in the trough springs to mind? The Tories to their credit have tried to engender change. its a strange world?

    there is no sell out Karen. change will come slowly and the long game beckons.Those who are driven by the love of a child and vice vesa are best heard within the walls for that is how they will crack.Your speaking to an Irishman here and history has certain lessons!

    as the man said
    “At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality… We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.”

    the parents on here and those that you work with are this moving force.You too of course.

    venceramos!

    Like

  16. Bartholomew · May 16, 2012

    I’m sorry to see Karen’s heroic efforts to highlight what Martin Mears (former president of the Law Society) called “institutional injustice” being met with such angry posts.

    I understand that anger well, but someone less compassionate will not, unfortunately. It can be therapeutic channeling that energy and emotion into something more fruit-bearing.

    My comeback to John (two posts above) would be not to concede your position in the face of that “blackmail.” You first need to separate out your case from your campaign work. Once you have done that, you can move forward. Remember that the courtrooms are not interested in ethics or principles, so don’t even try that on there; as most of us know, they are more interested in fostering perjury and delay, because that leads to the likelihood of one parent being bullied out of the picture without the judge having to do any work.

    That does not mean that (in the meantime, whilst you are being punched around the family court arena) you cannot write to and make appointments with your MP, write to the ministers of equality, children, education and health about whatever walls you are coming up against, and write to the media (albeit making all details anonymous) to encourage them to take up the cause of child welfare more seriously. There are so many productive things you can do to occupy the time made empty by the other parent’s selfishness and possessiveness. Perhaps when the authorities realize that they are merely turning an entire generation of fathers into militants-with-pens, what you want to see will happen.

    Like

  17. PapaMissingKids · May 18, 2012

    “and, if I can keep them away from the domestic violence lobby or the solicitor for long enough”

    I just wish CAFCASS had the insight you do Karen.
    …. and this statement says a lot.

    My experience is, in alienation cases which are typically very nitty gritty, CAFCASS are the biggest stumbling blocks.

    In my case, an expert confirmed the children are in an impossible situation and so are reviling me. He also said work needs to be done with the parents, and not the children at this stage.

    The mother complained about the expert – of course, but she said she doens’t mind contact happening. (classic case of the children having a choice but actaully they don’t).

    So then, the Judge asked CAFCASS to facilitate contact. And lo and behold – CAFCASS messed up in such a big way – they got the children to yet again write down their wishes and feelings and then he submitted a wishes and feelings report and further recommended the matter get removed from the court WITHOUT an outcome.

    I talked to the CAFCASS officers manager who told me to complain!

    The other side have spent £100K against me, are unbelievable wealthy whereas I’m a pauper – does that mean my kids should not have a relationship with me?

    And now I don’t know what to do cos kids getting older….Aaarrrghhhh….

    Like

  18. PapaMissingKids · May 18, 2012

    I forgot to add – it is sooooo obvious the other side solicitor is an expert herself – at manipulating CAFACASS…..

    Like

  19. stephen callard · May 18, 2012

    Fight to the bitter end at NOT LETTING CAFCASS ANYWHERE NEAR YOUR CHILDREN!! as so many don’t realize these brainwashed people only see the outcome in their Favor and its irrelevant of previous reports, if they took the old reports into consideration then maybe things would be so much better and quicker for all concerned. But as i have witnessed in my own case they just DON’T care about old reports and set up new one’s to create revenue, this is it in a nut shell “any split up in a family if it cant be fixed from the inside out, and need to use the filth to fix it for you they have and always will squeeze as much capital out of each side as possible” courts, solicitors, barristers, cafcass are all rotten to the core and until money is took out of the equation it will never change. Facts of life in today’s society :~(

    Like

  20. dermo · May 21, 2012

    we rarely hear the children s voices as adults

    there are no victors. only broken people. it puts the drive to challenge PA into perspective.

    fight it. challenge it. never give up..

    Like

  21. Paul · May 22, 2012

    Karen, Professor Parkinson has made a very useful contribution to the debate on Children Act changes with his presentation to a parliamentary group earlier this month. He has been very clever, I think, with his suggestions as to how the ‘only when it’s safe to do so’ mantra is best addressed within the act, given all the political capital that the domestic violence and single parent lobbies have invested in the issue i.e it’s almost impossible now to rid the act of what I regard as a complete nonsense (in the sense that child safety is a sine qua non of any law, doesn’t need over-emphasising above other factors and certainly doesn’t need a father’s nose being rubbed in it). Patrick Parkinson lists child safety as one of a number of factors for courts to consider and doesn’t single out and highlight the matter particularly.
    Would it be possible to post a link to his presentation on your blog?

    Like

  22. Another Dad · July 9, 2012

    Karen,

    I don’t know if you aware but the women’s charity Refuge has recently released an advertising campaign entitled ‘Don’t ignore it. They can’t.’ which is designed to address the problem of the harmful effect of Domestic Violence on children.

    http://refuge.org.uk/about-us/prevention-and-education/campaigns/dont-ignore-it-they-cant/

    The campaign uses 4 adverts which are children’s letters or diary excerpts expressing the child’s experience of DV. However, each of the 4 adverts and all the language used by Refuge in the campaign is extremely gender biased, misleading and in breach of advertising codes. Firstly, all 4 children talk about ‘Dad’ as being the perpetrator and ‘Mum’ the victim. The British Crime Survey figures (the Government’s own figures) show that men represent about 40% of all victims of DV and this is absolutely ignored in this campaign. Furthermore, even where the man is the perpetrator, it is not always ‘Dad’ and very often mum’s boyfriend who is the problem, so this is another huge misrepresentation.

    While I was browsing the net doing some research, I also came across an article written by Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC which, again, is completely biased and misleading.
    http://www.cps.gov.uk/news/articles/domestic_violence_-_the_facts_the_issues_the_future/

    The link to my document which I am using for the basis of my complaint is here:

    http://www.websitecompany.co/The-New-Refuge-DV-Advert.pdf

    This is exactly the sort of gender bias that we are up against as fathers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was strategically released at a time when the Government is in consultation over the Family Justice Review.

    Best wishes,

    Another Dad

    Like

  23. Stephen callard · July 16, 2012

    Hi Karen i have an update and its good news,
    The prohibited steps order was denied but facebook comments are a no but i knew that already.
    been to core children services to see my daughter and the fist visit was horrible we thats my daughter and i was made to feel uncomfortable about anything spoke about, the gift i gave to her she had to pass to the onlooker who opened it and read the cards and refused to give my daughter the money inside each card and said he will give the money to her mom, the place felt like prison no joke at one point i was told to back away from my daughter and to sit back in the chair all because i asked her if she could sign a form i have from the council for consent to release the file on her to me, she would of been happy to sign this had we been in normal surrounding but she said she didn’t know if she was allowed to sign it and them the onlookers said it was inappropriate at this time to ask her, this goes a little deeper in as much as the courts have said i am entitled to the file on my daughter but is concerned that the council would send a consent form to a child under 16 yet the council have said its protocol that any child over 12 years would need to consent to the file to be released, now the only opportunity i have to have the form signed by her was at our visit at Core children services so i presented it at the beginning of our meeting.
    The fact that the difference between the two Authorities ie: courts and council is astonishing this has never been highlighted before now which the council data lady said she in 15 years on the job has never received a letter from a solicitor representing the guardian about concerns that the child had been sent an consent letter. The problem is here, i have been granted by the courts and solicitors that i am indeed entitled to the file held by the council on my daughter but from the councils perspective they need a consent form signed by the child and as its necessary by their policy i have no option but to take the form with me to our meeting to be signed, i explained the situation to my daughter in an age appropriately way and i just know she would of happily signed it for me had she not been primed before we met in the place she seamed confused about what she could talk about and what was not allowed anyway as it was made into a issue by the onlooker (bouncers) i put the form away and we carried on with our visit, Then my daughter started talking about the guardian and i asked if she and my son liked her and i was took back by her answer which was “no we hate her she is horrible but mum likes her” enough said! the bouncer soon butted in and said we couldn’t talk about that hmmm i thought as it was my daughter who raised the topic, my daughter and me loved seeing each other despite the awful surroundings we have been forced into. our time was soon up and we had a big goodbye hug and left, Dreading our next meeting due to the nature of our first so i never even brought out the from this time but the bouncers had been changed to two new ones, two lady’s they were friendly, kind and considerate it was like a gift from God and the visit couldn’t of gone any better we played many games and the time went so fast 2 hours felt like 20 mins, we were both at ease like we were at home and if we have those lady’s again it will go some way to reassure my daughter that contact will be another good one,
    Being what my daughter said about their guardian i have made an official complaint against her because how i see it is if the guardian that has been appointed to the children is hated by the children who the guardian work for then there is definitely something wrong, at first i was inclined to think it was just me who had issues about her, but now its been made clear that our children hate her but mum likes her. says just one thing to me “me and my children are not being catered for in the children’s best interests, on the contrary quite the opposite in fact. one comment from their guardian that stuck in my mind since April was this, my question to her was “are the children happy to agree to the contact through core children services?” her answer was that my son is refusing to cooperate with her in fact has refused to even talk to her, yet my daughter in the guardians words ” oh yes she was very adamant about contact tacking place defiantly” my thought on this is why has my daughter been put in a position that she felt that she had to almost demand contact taking place? and this is the foundation upon which i am complaining about its factual and shows lack of insight for the children’s feelings.

    going back to the second visit i gave my daughter some gift but at the end of our contact the lady said that mom and cafcass has refused this saying that no presents are allowed, so i said i fail to see how this is in the best interests of the children and the lady’s reply was “yes it does seam a bit mean” so i apologized to my daughter for her not being allowed the pens and paper and Olympic keyring’s and said i will look after them for her and bro.

    So the plot thickens ever more and i continue to bend over backwards to meet every demand that’s made by the mother, and still more conditions are added each hearing.
    any judge with half a brain should be able to see through the mothers manipulations and her using the court powers to cause as much pain for not just me but our children also.

    We live in hope that soon equality can be seen to be done and the children effected can start to rebuild their broken lives.

    Steve.

    Like

  24. Philip · September 13, 2012

    Great reading – lots of food for thought. I’ve been waiting for a year for the Court and Cafcass to decide if it’s safe for my kids to be with me. It’s been exhausting on all levels and a complete emotional rollercoaster that I’m trying to keep from wrecking my everyday life. And now i’ve finally been authorised by the Court to send “appropriate letters” to the kids after a year of complete silence – and instead of rejoicing I’m panicking – what on earth am I supposed to write that will let them feel that their Dad still exists and that he loves them, without reinforcing the alienation and putting pressure on them. What a crazy situation to be in. I would never have dreamed this kind of situation was possible or that parental alienation even existed. I’ve learned the hard way!

    Like

  25. Dean Marciny · September 22, 2012

    A single ( non resident) dad sees one of his daughters has burnt her hand..when he picks her up from school on one of the days that his court order allows for this.
    He questions the mum no avail. He emails her a picture of his daughters hand and yet again asks for a written response to no avail.

    All he has thus far is the version of the 4 1/2 year old who tells him that she got burnt on “a red hot lamp in “aunty so and so’s house” . Aunty So and so is the elder sister and a social worker..has been for about 20 some odd years.

    The man calls the NSPCC the next day pending no response from the mother and relates his fears to them..He’s specific in his request for an investigation and does not state that the mother and her extended family here are actually deliberately hurting his daughter. His fear is that the mother would go out of her way to hide and not tell him the truth thereby putting her own personal vendettas ahead of his daughters health and safety.

    The NSPCC call social services who apparently call the school and then call the father back stating that they have no fears for the child’s safety. The case is thereby closed.
    The father asks for a case number and the social worker instead gives him a telephone number to call in the event there is an incident again.
    The father yet again relates his issues to the social services man on the phone who says he personally agrees that it is wrong however is not his within jurisdiction which is solely the child’s safety…and hes absolutely correct
    The social services man suggests that since the man’s relationship with his ex is acrimonious he should for his own peace of mind-contact the aunt.

    The father does just that and emails the aunt at her work address asking how and why his daughter sustained the burn on her hand. The aunt responds stating she has “confirmation” that the mother has already spoken to the father and has divulged all information. The father writes back stating that were that the case he would not have contacted the aunt in the first place. The aunt by now has given the father a “date” this has happened however nothing else and she insists that the father deal directly with the mother. In that email, The aunt then states that “in her experience, acrimonious parents have a profoundly negative impact emotionally on children both young and older and then suggests that father review his CAFCASS report/final court order”

    The father writes back and states that he could not agree with her more and then invites her to “re acquaint herself with his CAFCASS order /final court order which he quite happy to email her a copies of both or alternatively review these copies with her sister.. He also mentions the aunt’s “reticence” to address the question of “how” his daughter sustained a burn on her hand under her roof.

    The Aunt’s immediately responds in a separate email informing the father that she considers his emails harassment and that she has called for an investigation into him and that email harassment is a serious offence.
    The father responds to this and thanks her and states that he is looking forward to responding to any queries resulting from this complaint…that was almost a week ago….The father is still awaiting a call or visit or whatever from the county officials.

    Personally i think that will not ever happen but what do i know….

    Like

  26. Another Father · September 23, 2012

    Dean, I can imagine how concerning this must be for the father involved, especially when all parties behave so secretly about the whole affair. However, I don’t know who these people are so I don’t know what the risk could be. Only the father could make this assessment and if the mother and aunt generally care well for the child, then it could have been just an accident and the reason for their reluctance to communicate is pure stubbornness, particularly from the mother insofar as she refuses to be questioned by the father due to their negative relationship. I’ve personally been in a similar situation with my ex, where we were both quite stubborn and each had the attitude that we should not need to answer questions about our parenting. This attitude only creates further questions from the other parent, and a vicious circle where the relationship, at best, doesn’t improve and at worst, deteriorates further. We were in a fierce court battle as I applied for SR, with Social Services, Police, CAFCASS and more, involved, and there were some horrible times. What happened is we finally agreed to a Shared Residence Order when I could have kept the pressure on for Full Residence which was recommended in a Section 47 report. After that, we both reached a point where we decided that we must change, so we did. Now we’re not the perfect parents and who knows what the future holds for us but we are doing a MUCH better job as separated parents. We communicate and we trust each other because we have to. Many of the things that happened back then would be easy to deal with now due to the fact that we have a good relationship. I might add that my ex also has a new fella who is a positive influence on her life and I’m quite glad he’s around. The last fella was a huge, huge problem.

    Basically I think the question is – generally, should this child be with her mother? Is she safe and happy with her mother? If the answer is yes, then the father should do his very best to make the relationship as good as it can be and support the mother in every way he can, to help her to do a better job, for his daughter. If the answer is no, then he should approach the whole situation with the intention of getting her out of there, BUT, it’s about being honest with oneself when answering those questions. Sometimes we only see the negative side of our ex-partners’ parenting and we fail to see the positives.

    However, like I said earlier in this post, I don’t know the people involved and therefore can’t assess the reality of any possible risk. It might be that there really is one or it might be that there generally isn’t. I’m not qualified to say.

    I hope this helps, even a little.

    Like

  27. Dean Marciny · September 24, 2012

    Another dad..

    that is indeed sound advice.

    Sadly though…not everyone is of the same opinion and or adopts the approach that you have laid out.

    Thank you

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s