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FNF 2018 Conference - A Delegate's Report

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It was my first time.  Although a current member of, and long-time supporter of the National UK Charity Families Need Fathers, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I rolled up to their 2018 Annual Conference.

My first relief was that I wasn’t the only woman there. Not by far.

I was fascinated.  Here I was first hand seeing clear evidence that what ‘should’ happen in court - often doesn’t happen in practice.  It was impossible to ignore the fact that much of what the law provides in legal orders and decisions - are ignored.  They have no teeth..  What came across loud and clear is that the current - and any potentially future - laws that protect the children's rights to see both parents, are just not properly enforced. 

Keynote speaker Lord Justice McFarlane was busy making notes as he came face to face with the massive gap between what should be happening and what actually happens in the family courts.  And he was listening and taking notes also about suggestions of what could be done.

This was not a conference full of angry parents denied access to their own children, sharing their woes. It was a conference of parents who didn’t want other parents to suffer like they have done. Parents who want change and are prepared to come up with good ideas based upon what works in other countries.

One of the best ideas came from a member of the audience, which was to use something similar to what they do in Monaco - which apparently is to have a lawyer who represents the child and has an inquisitorial role, rather than parents having two barristers bashing out their respective arguments. 

Within our current system, there seems to be little to stop one parent lying about the other with often no real consequences (and none for the legal firms supporting those lies it appears) - and yet countries like Sweden have very few couples using the courts and mostly they even sort things out without even needing mediation.  We are so behind in this country, and it seems to stem from a lack of action with regard to protecting the rights of the children.

A great deal of discussion was about parental alienation, and as I sat there I wished that the whole conference was being recorded as a podcast.  Many of the messages of today's speakers - founded on facts and quality data - need to become public knowledge if anything is to really change.

The Telegraph reported after the event that keynote speaker Lord Justice McFarlane, the next President of the Family Division and chief family judge for England and Wales, acknowledged the pain of the fathers - and mothers - who shared their stories of endless court battles, vast financial costs and a family law system that doesn’t work properly. The Rt Hon. Lord Justice McFarlane acknowledged that something had "gone wrong". He also said that claims of parental alienation should be tested in family courts in the same way as domestic abuse accusations.

“But when will these changes happen” urged one of the parents - a mother, who had spent over ten years with the family courts being used as a way to bully her over child contact issues.  Any changes will be too late for her as her children are now teenagers.  But for the sake of other parents in similar situations - and the room was full of them - she continued to relentlessly but politely demand a commitment from the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice McFarlane of when these changes will happen.  No date was given.

Suzy Miller

Divorce Strategist
Creator of the Best Way To Split Retreat

 

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  • Today's Metro reports on actress Anna Friel's struggles with work-family balance. Great to see her say she sacrificed an LA career as "it would have taken Gracie away from her father and friends". Previously it had been reported that she said of her ex “He’s a great dad and lives just across the road.". Parents working together and prioritising their daughter! Hope it continues to work out. https://www.metro.news/anna-friels-struggles-with-work-family-balance/1664320/ Help us to make family separation better for children by following us, liking and sharing our posts, making a donation, becoming a member or registering for free.
  • The third case reported in a month or so of children killed by a mother with a range of difficulties in her life. On the face of it the father's opportunities to be involved with the children were limited. Another tragic case that adds to the weight of evidence that the narrow focus of the current review of child protection in family courts, focusing essentially on risks posed by men, is too narrow to address the underlying and wider issues around child safety. The Ministry of Justice called for the review following a Victoria Derbyshire show in May focusing on four selected child homicides where the father was the perpetrator. Our thoughts are with all the family. You can support us by registering for free, following us, liking/sharing our posts, becoming a member or making a donation. https://www.rugbyadvertiser.co.uk/news/crime/father-of-girls-murdered-by-louise-porton-speaks-after-she-is-found-guilty-1-9019617
  • Parental Alienation - A great interview by RTE1 in Ireland with Brian O'Sullian, Consultant Systemic Family Psychotherapist who deals with PA cases. Please support us by following us, liking and sharing posts, registering for free, becoming a member or making a donation. https://soundcloud.com/user-194293915/brian-osullivan-parental-alienation-rte-1-ryan-tubridy-show-30-07-19
  • Yet another tragic case in the space of weeks that challenges the mistaken gendered narrative about child homicides being at the hands of fathers. The bereft dad told the court the mother was emotionally controlling "she knew it was the ultimate punishment" he said and "How I wish I had never taken them back to her. I only did this because I thought every mum deserves to be with their kids." Our thoughts are with the father and all the family. Please support us by following us, sharing and liking our posts, becoming a member, registering for free or making a donation. https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hull-east-yorkshire-news/hull-dad-samantha-ford-drowns-3141789
  • Families Need Fathers shared a post.There’s going to be a debate on the CMS (Child Maintenance Service)on Tuesday next week in the House of Commons. The MP leading this wants to hear about your experiences of it. Please comment on the House of Commons post for your chance to feed into the debate. The post contains a link to a private platform if you wish you submit your comments in private. The deadline for responses is midday on Monday 22nd July 2019.
  • A couple of weeks ago a 'guest blog' by, self styled 'feminist' barrister Charlotte Proudman was posted on the Transparency Project's Website. Her comments follow on from her appearance alongside FNF on the Victoria Derbyshire Show on 15th May 2019 when she said that Parental Alienation "really turns my stomach", the existence of which she questioned. Child Protection Resource website published our response to the Family Inquiry Panel and the feelings and dogma that are being promoted in this discussion. Please support us by sharing and liking our posts, following us, becoming a member, registering for free or making a donation. http://childprotectionresource.online/feelings-and-dogma-cannot-set-the-agenda-in-family-justice/

FNF HSSF Kite Mark Award

Families Need Fathers has been awarded the Help and Support for Separated Families Kite Mark which is a new UK government accreditation scheme for organisations offering help to separated families.

Families Need Fathers work with a range of family law professionals, including Family Law Panel

 

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