Below are several examples of myths which do not apply:
The Courts are anti‐father.
If you are a first timer you will certainly get this impression. In fact the courts are anti‐risk. They will not allow a child to be placed in a situation where they may come to harm. If allegations are made against a non‐resident parent, male or female, the courts will need to know that the allegations are either false, or can be contained to prevent harming the child. The same allegations are unlikely to work in reverse unless some evidence can be provided. If both parents are accusing each other, the court cannot just place the child into care unless there is some evidence to prove they are at risk.
I have a Human Right to see my children
Although everyone has human rights, the child’s human rights are superior to either parents’.
Again, protecting the child is of paramount importance to the court, as it should be to both parents.
Article 8 etc??? [add copyhttps://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/human-rights-act/article-8-respect-your-private-and-family-life">https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/human-rights-act/article-8-respect-your-private-and-family-life>
If I can’t see my children I won’t pay child support
The law requires that parents of a child must provide support for them. The Family Courts no longer get involved in child maintenance which is either dealt with on a private basis between parents, or through the Child Maintenance Service. Paying it may help you to present yourself as a responsible parent. Not paying it is likely to be used to portray you as irresponsible and maybe even to suggest that you are going to court because of your anger or wish to control your ex.
There is no justice
The way the courts work, tends to leave some parents feeling that it is unfair and unjust. Often dads. Protection of the child often means that events run slowly and sometimes situations are impossible to repair, leading to a total loss of contact with a child. Behaviour that is usually acceptable within a marriage, such as arguing, tends to get highlighted, exaggerated and focused upon by the courts, and so can lead to an irreparable situation. The Family Court is not there to mete out justice but to decide what is best for your children.
I will walk away and my children will find me when they are 16
Sad as it will be, some cases, although not many, result in one parent being prevented from seeing their child. If the child is very young, they will not grow up knowing the missing parent, and so are not as likely to know where to go looking for them when they are older, even if they decided that they wanted to and it may not be the happy reunion you expect when they ask why you abandoned them and ask for compensation! IN FNF we believe abandonment is NOT an option.
My son is 10 years old and wants to live with me, so the courts will listen to him
The courts will listen to the views of children, but they will always consider those views in relation to their age. The age of 13 tends to be when a child’s wishes are based on their own knowledge of the consequences of what they say. Depending on the child’s maturity, thirteen years may vary and so is not a definitive cut off point. Unfortunately more often courts rely upon the opinions of younger and younger children who of course are frequently influenced by the parent they live with.
Daughters need their fathers
All children, boys or girls, need two loving parents. Full stop.
The court may make an order giving shared residence. This means that the child has 2 homes of equal standing and lives at both. It is not necessarily, and seldom is, an equal share of time. Shared residence is infrequently ordered. Most orders say something along the lines:
“The child will live with the mother and be made available to the father at the following times:...”
We in FNF are not happy with this arrangement. It appears to make the father a ‘secondary’ parent and this is certainly how schools, hospitals, social services etc. interpret it. We would much prefer the following.
“The child will live with the mother on .... (dates, times) and live with the father... (dates, times)”
Even better, if you are able to mediate with your ex your final order could read:
“The child will live with both parents at times agreed by both parties but not less than a total of XX months per year.”
Domestic violence is men against women
The statistics show varying levels of violence against each gender, and can be initiated by either.
Domestic violence/abuse, in any form, is wrong regardless of gender specially in front of your children. Unfortunately an allegation of DV or a non-molestation order can result in legal aid for the accusing parent. We find more unscrupulous parents and lawyers resorting to groundless allegations in order to obtain legal aid.
My car was vandalised last night, I know it was him
The courts work with evidence. Thinking that you know something is not the same as knowing something. A gut instinct is of no value to the courts.
His friend said he vandalised my car so I know it was him
The courts work with evidence. Being told something is not the same as knowing something.
Gossip is of no value to the courts.
I have never done anything to make her scared of me
People have different perceptions and levels of fear, and you cannot say what someone else is fearful of because you are not them. Only they know what they are scared of however an unscrupulous parent might well chose to say this and demand special arrangements at court or even refuse to attend, just to big up a weak case.
The children don’t talk about him, therefore they don’t miss him
Children will take their cue from you and how you react to things. If you don’t like to hear them talking about their father, they won’t. Children also are very successful at dividing their lives into two sections and know how to behave in each. It’s a tragic consequence of divorce that children shouldn’t have to go through, caused by BOTH parents.
The children cried when they thought he would take them on holiday
In ordinary circumstances, why would a child not want to go on holiday?
It’s in my diary so it must be true
The courts work with evidence, and the more independent that evidence, the more convincing it is. If a third party had written the diary it may have some weight, but your own records, although they may point to times and events, will be unlikely to be seen as convincing evidence. However the keeping of a diary is highly recommended to help you keep track of events and dates as your court hearings progress.
The balance of probabilities.
In a Criminal Court the allegations must be proved “beyond reasonable doubt”. The evidence needs to be secure and unshakeable before it is considered true and a judgement of guilt or innocence is based upon it.
In the Family Court the participants are not called ‘the victim and accused’ but the applicant and respondent. There is no guilty or not guilty judgement and the judge makes his or her decisions about the future of your child based on the ‘balance of probability’. For example, he/she will decide whose story is probably true or whose evidence and story they find more believable. In coming to a conclusion they will look at all aspects of the evidence including your court room demeanour, organisation, how reasonable your proposals are, whether you hold grudges, put vengeance before the children and whether you are willing to compromise for the sake of the children. If both parents lack credibility, judges only need to satisfy themselves by the narrowest of margins of, say, 51% to 49%, so everything you do or don’t do and how you do it can swing decisions in one or other direction.
They are also aware that all children have a right to a relationship with both parents. The court will decide under what circumstances and how often that relationship can develop with the advice of CAFCASS or Social Services.
CAFCASS and Social Services can be .biased towards the resident parent, most usually the mother, so try to convince them of your genuine intentions. Do not treat them as the enemy while at the same time they are not part of your therapy. They are listening for what you say that may give them concerns for the safety of the children.
Courts may make a range of decisions about how you see your children ranging through:
Indirect contact limited to occasional letters and presents
Limited contact in a contact centre supervised by a social worker
Limited contact in a contact centre but unsupervised
Limited contact in the community
A shared parenting arrangement
Any of the above may be combined with contact through Skype or Facetime.
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