Call our National Helpline on 0300 0300 363
Check availability times

The UK's leading Shared Parenting charity

FNF 2018 Conference - A Delegate's Report

FNF Conference Virgin

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

 

        Forgot Login?  

Join us now...
Consider a small donation...

FNF will receive 5% of anything you spend with Amazon using this link.

Try it now and bookmark it for future use!

 

  • It is often assumed that there is a stigma associated with men admitting physical or psychological abuse. However, there are two other important factors. One is that they will not be believed when they do complain. Another is that fathers fear reprisal action of preventing access to their children. These issues combine to be a powerful deterrent to seeking help from authorities. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6053177/Police-ignore-psychological-abuse-males-unconscious-bias-say-campaigners.html Please support us by following us, sharing and liking this post, registering with us for free, becoming a member or making a donation.
  • It's not too late to complete our survey for parents prevented from having direct contact and confined to writing letters, sending cards, etc. Please share if you know anyone this applies to. Click here to complete this short survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FNF_Indirect_Contact_2018
  • It is good that Mel B and Stephen Belafonte will be jointly parenting their six year old daughter. It's not fair on his step-daughter that they could not agree arrangements for her too - Mr Belafonte had been parenting her for most of her life and this will apparently be the second father figure she's lost in her life. A shared parenting agreement should have been reached for both children without these proceedings and with less damage to them. It seems doubtful that this was what they really, really wanted. https://www.standard.co.uk/showbiz/celebrity-news/stephen-belafonte-celebrates-as-mel-b-is-ordered-to-pay-his-350000-legal-fees-in-divorce-battle-i-a3905596.html
  • We believe in transparency in family courts, but having a public slanging match over child maintenance is excessive. It is good that they appear, to some extent, to be sharing parenting after separation, but their six children won't wish to read or have their friends read how their mum and dad bicker over who pays for what. They are, reportedly, each worth handsomely in excess of $150m and with earning potential for much more. https://www.standard.co.uk/showbiz/celebrity-news/angelina-jolie-pushes-for-divorce-from-brad-pitt-as-she-accuses-him-of-paying-no-meaningful-child-a3906296.html
  • Indirect Contact Survey We are carrying out a short survey of parents who had Child Arrangement Orders (previously called contact orders) for indirect contact i.e. for writing and receiving of letters, cards and gifts, phone calls, Skype calls, emails, etc. See: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FNF_Indirect_Contact_2018… There is little evidence as to whether such orders lead to anything positive or are even complied with. This survey should take only 5-10 minutes to complete and will help us to provide feedback to you, to family justice professionals and to the media. Please share this with anyone you know who it might apply to.
  • Today's Daily Mail reports on the horrendous experience of child abduction from the UK to Poland, with a comment from Families Need Fathers. The Foreign Office needs to intervene and make sure that friendly Hague Convention countries comply by their obligations. What is more, they need to do this on a child-appropriate timeframe i.e. fast. It is simply wrong that a child can lose a parent as a result of unilateral action of the other with no consequence. Neither is it just that a father's life and finances can be destroyed in this way. The government must act to ensure that these agreements between nation states have teeth and are honoured. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6024775/British-psychiatrists-Polish-ex-partner-kidnapped-daughter-UK-courts-helpless.html Please support Families Need Fathers by sharing this, following us, liking the page, registering for free, becoming a member or making a donation.

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

 

Upcoming Events

16/08/2018 Thu: Wakefield Meeting
16/08/2018 Thu: Aberdeen Meeting
18/08/2018 Sat: Harrow Branch Meetings
20/08/2018 Mon: Glasgow Meeting
20/08/2018 Mon: Reading Meeting
20/08/2018 Mon: London North Meeting
20/08/2018 Mon: London Central Meeting
21/08/2018 Tue: Manchester Meeting
21/08/2018 Tue: Hastings Meeting
21/08/2018 Tue: Harrow Branch Meetings
23/08/2018 Thu: London East (Tower Hamlets)
30/08/2018 Thu: Exeter Meeting
3/09/2018 Mon: London Central Solicitor's Clinic
3/09/2018 Mon: Edinburgh Meeting
3/09/2018 Mon: Nottingham Meeting
3/09/2018 Mon: Northern Ireland Meeting
4/09/2018 Tue: Leeds Central Meeting