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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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  • Is Misogyny about to be Classified as a Hate Crime in UK Legislation? What about Misandry – or are men not Worth It? Last month, it was announced that a review by the Law Commission would look at whether offences driven by misogyny - dislike, contempt or ingrained prejudice against women - should be treated as hate crimes. And now it's emerged the same review will also consider the opposite - crimes motivated by misandry - hostility towards men. This is a potentially pivotal issue when the new matriarchy are pressing so hard in all walks of life for special treatment of women. We are living in a fair and egalitarian society in which men and women should expect to be offered equivalent support and protection under the law. Surely it’s a no-brainer to treat all gender hate crimes fairly, regardless of gender? Unless the law is fair and has effective checks and balances to avoid it being abused, it risks being used as a weapon by some parents with less than honourable motives. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45870948
  • False allegations are commonplace in family justice disputes and since legal aid changes in 2013 these have been encouraged by providing Legal Aid in family disputes to just one side when alleging domestic violence. Non-Molestation Orders have become the most favoured route to this and have gone up by 37% since. The figures were boosted by legislation in 2017 designed to stop thousands of people languishing on police bail for months or years without charge - as these orders have the same effect, but are easier to obtain. The Guardian's report on our analysis today. The full report can be downloaded from our website - (link in first comment posted). https://www.theguardian.com/law/2018/oct/15/parents-weaponising-domestic-violence-orders-claims-charity To support us, please share this, Tweet it, like it, comment, follow us, register for free, become a member or make donation.
  • FNF have advocated for more involvement of fathers with care of their children from day one, not least as it benefits children. New research at University of Manchester now demonstrates that fathers caring for babies alone also promotes relationship stability. Meanwhile, the Government rejected recommendations of the Select Committee for Women and Equalities to extend 'use-it-or-lose-it' paternity leave. State support for paternity leave is approximately 4% of that for maternity leave for parents on similar incomes. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/sep/30/hands-on-fathers-less-likely-to-break-up-with-partners-paternity-leave-childcare Please support FNF by sharing, liking, following, registering for free, becoming a member or making a donation.
  • Rogan Productions (who produced this Panorama episode) consulted us and visited our branches to gain an understanding of the situation. We haven’t yet seen the piece but we have already written to them with our concerns that judging by the description and title, the programme is being presented in a prejudicial manner and that the title will upset many vulnerable male victims. Their reply includes the following: “…thank you for sharing your thoughts, I completely understand why you feel that way. Perpetrator programmes predominantly focus on male perpetrators, and statistically there is a higher need in that regard, which is why we have had to present it in its reality for the programme. There aren’t any perpetrator programmes that exist solely for women – I believe there is one programme that operates through Skype. However we have included statistics regarding male victims to try and rectify the balance, and we do know this is an issue that affects both genders.” Our hope is that they have properly addressed not just the issues of the unexplainable and frankly prejudicial lack of appetite for programmes for women, but also the ongoing support for feminist attempts at painting men as un-reformable and even fundamentally given to being perpetrators of violence. More to the point their introduction doesn’t seem to mention the need for both parents to focus on the welfare of the children, rather than on attacking each other in the courts and in front of the children. Having said all that, they may be concentrating on wider issues of DV – outside the arena of children, separation and divorce. Either way, it will be interesting to see how they deal with the significant proportion of W on M violence and abuse. Let’s see what the film shows and we can take it up with the Beeb if necessary. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bn9yzg 8.30pm tonight. Support us by liking, sharing, following, registering for free, making a donation or becoming a member.
  • A tragic story for the family. A son killed and a falsely accused dad who died struggling to cope with what had happened and the allegations against him. False allegations destroy lives. Sadly they rarely get the attention they deserve and are far more common in the context of family separation. https://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/crime/heartbroken-family-of-freddie-stacey-make-emotional-plea-for-help-with-his-funeral-1-9384988 Please follow us and support our work on shared parenting and dealing with false allegations.
  • It seems that in parts of the US attempts at blocking one parent's access to children is treated rather more robustly than here. https://metro.co.uk/2018/10/05/angelina-jolies-bid-for-sole-custody-against-brad-pitt-may-have-backfired-top-lawyer-claims-8007184/?ito=article.amp.share.top.twitter Support us by liking, sharing, following, registering for free, making a donation or becoming a member.

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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18/10/2018 Thu: Aberdeen Meeting
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