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Indirect Contact Orders

Indirect Contact: On what basis do such orders promote the welfare of children?

We regularly hear from many dads and some mums about judges and Cafcass Family Court Advisers proposing indirect contact only with children after separation i.e. sending and receiving of letters, cards and gifts, without any parenting time at all. Often they express the view that this will consequently lead to direct contact developing. What, we ask, is the basis for such optimism? A survey we carried out suggests that there is no basis for this at all, with just one out of 154 respondents saying it led to direct contact. The May 2019 issue of legal journal Family Law Journal published an article by barrister Sarah Phillimore and Families Need Fathers exploring the issues further, sharing some of the detail of our survey results and calling for the Ministry of Justice to publish data on how often these orders are made by family courts and to commission research into their outcomes.

Our survey also found that 58% of respondents were either told by Cafcass of the family court judge that indirect contact might lead to the restoration of visitation. Cafcass were more likely to suggest this (37%) and judges slighlty less liketly to (34%) - the figures add up to more thatn 58% due to overlap where both made such comments. If you have not taken part in this survey already then feel free to add your experience for further updates of this work.

If you have experience of this, please contact your MP, ask to meet with him/her and describe to them of your experiences. Tell them about this article and ask them to make representations to the relevant minster, currently Paul Maynard MP and David Gauke MP, calling on the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to start capturing separately data for cases where only inidrect contact is ordered.  This will help to distinguish between when the order is made because of safeguarding risks to the child from the parent, and when it is because previous orders for direct contact failed to take place, or even because of the assessed risk of harm to the child of ongoing proceedings (as opposed to anything the applicant parent has done wrong), or for other reasons e.g. non-compliance with previous contact orders, parental alienation, etc. Currently MoJ data only states whether there was a contact order and does not distinguish between direct contact and indirect 'letterbox' contact. Please also ask them to ask the minister to request that MoJ or Cafcass commision in-depth, independent research into the likelihood of indirect contact leading to direct contact.  Our figures suggest it is barely better than none at all and therefore a very poor basis for Cafcass and judges to base making such orders. You can find out who your MP is online. Please feel free to share any responses you receive with us at admin@fnf.org.uk.

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  • If Theresa May can make non-transferable, funded, parernity leave happen it would be a hugely important and positive step. Countries that have such policies demonstrate a high take-up. They also have better child welfare outcomes, less pressure on mothers and a greater likelihood of joint parenting whether together or when parents separate. If Theresa May makes this happen it would, rightly, be an achievement she could be proud of. The detail of proposals is, as ever important, but this is a good start. Please support us by sharing, liking, following us, registering for free, becoming a member or making a donation. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7171695/Fathers-12-WEEKS-paid-paternity-leave-Theresa-Mays-legacy-plans.html
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  • Over 80 per cent of respondents in a YouGov survey said the law should be reformed so that judges have a presumption in favour roughly equal time with each parent after divorce or separation, excluding cases where children were deemed at risk. The survey was commissioned by Families Need Fathers BPM Cymru and reported by The Times (sorry that the full article is behind a paywall). Equal care may not be practical to best meet a child's best interests in every case, but where all else is equal, the presumption of joint care is a desirable starting point. The results support what we have been saying for years and clearly it is what most people want. There is a big gap between that and the reality of people's experience when they seek arrangements for their children through family courts. Several Scandinavian countries now enjoy equal care as the most common arrangement with joint care (at least 35% of time) representing the vast majority of separated families. Please support us by sharing and liking our posts, following us, registering for free, making a donation or becoming a member. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/fathers-call-for-equal-access-to-children-after-divorce-n5cp9xdxq
  • New Advertising Standards Authority regulations came into force yesterday that prohibit harmful gender stereotypes in advertising. An examples offered includes 'An ad that depicts a man or a woman failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender e.g. a man’s inability to change nappies; a woman’s inability to park a car' Another example is 'An ad that seeks to emphasise the contrast between a boy’s stereotypical personality (e.g. daring) with a girl’s stereotypical personality (e.g. caring) needs to be handled with care.' It is important in furthering the cause of shared parenting that advertising does not cause harm by promoting such stereotypes which infect the culture, including professionals in the field. To support our work, please share and like our posts, follow us, become a member, register for free or make a donation. https://www.asa.org.uk/news/ban-on-harmful-gender-stereotypes-in-ads-comes-into-force.html
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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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