Updates, news and events
Welcome to October's Newsletter of Families Need Fathers, because both parents matter.
In thise edition, we provide updates around the branches and, nationally, some guidance, interesting and useful research, and a new section, News From Around The World.
The national office focus has mainly been on our upcoming Annual Conference and AGM, which promises to be an extremelly informative and positive event, with the focal point very much in the next few years- we encourage you all to attend.
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ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND AGM 2023
A reminder that our annual conference and AGM is taking place on Saturday 4th November in Manchester, including online. Places are limited and on a first come first served basis, so book fast to reserve your place using the link below.
Those attending in person will have the opportunity to book a free 20-minute consultation session to discuss their case with our Headline Sponsor, Anthony Gold Solicitors LLP. We are delighted to have their support sponsoring the conference and AGM.
There are separate booking for the conference and AGM, so to attend both, please book for both.
We are once again honoured to have Sir Andrew McFarlane, the President of the Family Division, address our conference. Other speakers include Sarah Parsons, CAFCASS Principal Social Worker and Deputy Director for Improvement, Dr Sue Whitcombe, Counselling psychologist and Chair of British Psychological Society Division of Counselling Psychology, and Professor Ben Hine, Professor of Applied Psychology, University of West London. Ben will present his ground-breaking report, Lost Dads: The Fathers and Family Breakdown, Separation and Divorce Project.
Please use this LINK to register and to put questions to our speakers.
Although I reckon I’ve attended close to 200 branch support meetings as service user and then advisor (and of course some reading this will have attended many more!), some things this month really struck home about the reality separated dads face when fighting and struggling to see your children. Following an approach for a possible BBC documentary on the negative health effects for dads separated from your child, I put out an email for people willing to be interviewed about their case. Over a hundred of you responded, sharing often heartrending stories of the personal toll suffered from contact denial, false allegations and parental alienation in particular – “negative health effects” doesn’t begin to describe it. I would like to thank everyone who responded. As is often the case with the media, the documentary got pulled, at least for now, due to journalists getting pulled at the last minute to work on events in Israel; however, we are hopeful, knowing we have the case studies to show, that either the BBC or another media outlet will follow up with us on this serious public health issue.
GOOD NEWS FROM OUR BRANCHES
Four parents with the support of the Twickenham (LINK) and Harrow (LINK) branches and the Alienation Support group (LINK) have been awarded 50/50 time with their children. We are happy for the children and their parents and pleased that our support had a role.
No stats are kept by the courts of this kind of thing – that we are aware of – nor indeed of how the procedures allocate parenting time.
But equal shared care orders, used to be exceptional, unless by voluntary agreement. They seem to be becoming less so. Excellent.
Nor has there been any research that we are aware of for nearly twenty years. One done by the Joseph Rowntree Trust was relatively small scale but reported that the majority of the children they spoke to who were cared for equally by separated parents liked it, though not all did. The same research found that a clear majority of children wanted more time with their ‘second parent’ than they were allowed. Children’s Views of their Changing Families, JRF 2001.
The Harrow group in London now organises meeting that are purely social in addition to the support meetings. Attenders enjoy them. They are of course open to everyone, including a Xmas dinner. 4.12.23 at the Beefeater, Ickenham Road, Ruislip. Contact Bahi 07825614477.
Long ago, one of our branches used to have joint social meetings with their local Gingerbread group. We never heard of any successes or disasters!
Thank you BJ. More snippets of local news, especially any ideas that others might take up!
NEW RESEARCH SHOWS FATHER’S INVOLVEMENT WHEN CHILDREN ARE YOUNG GIVES THEM A SIGNIFICANT ADVANTAGE.
New Research shows father's involvement when children are young gives them a significant advantage (LINK).
Research at Leeds University lead by Dr Helen Norman shows fathers have a unique and significant effect on children’s outcomes. This will not be news to many FNF members but is a further additional weapon in our armoury when arguing in court and with social workers on the value of fathers in children’s lives. Further research by Dr Tsuguhiko Kato in Japan reinforced this finding (LINK). It explains why children find roughhousing so appealing and how they learn gross motor skills, self-confidence, self-regulation, problem solving and prepare children for school.
GOVERNMENT PROPOSE PLAN TO PREVENT PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY TO THOSE JAILED FOR KILLING THEIR PARTNER.
Alex Chalk, the Justice Secretary, announced at the Conservative Party conference this addition to the Victims and Prisoners Bill, to be introduced to parliament later this year. The new law, called Jade’s Law, named after the case of Paul Ward convicted of killing Jade Ward at their home in 2021. The law currently allows all adults with parental responsibility to obtain school reports, progress reports and medical records, including those jailed for murder. The new law will remove PR from these parents. The option for an aggrieved parent to remove PR already exists in the Children Act 1989. Our legitimate concern is whether this tragic and terrible case is the thin end of wedge, with the principle applied to allegations and non-criminal acts. We will be keeping a close eye. (LINK).
NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD - JAPAN PONDERS SHARED CARE, AS AUSTRALIANS WELCOME THE CHANGES
Japan ponders shared care, as Australians welcome the changes (LINK).
Japan’s justice ministry has proposed introducing joint parental custody, in what would be the first step towards reforming the country’s century-old system that has resulted in thousands of parents, including dozens of Australians, blocked from seeing their children.
Meanwhile the Australian Government are writing to abducted children in Japan who may not know they are Australian, advising them they can apply for an adult passport.
The 100-year-old Japanese law makes it quite legal to kidnap your own children. For more clarity on this distressing situation watch this video. (LINK)
Disappointingly this proposal will not apply to same sex couples. (LINK). In fact, Japan is the only G7 country where legal protection for same-sex unions does not, and has never, existed. However, the future is not as bleak as it appears. Some municipalities have introduced partnership certificates (LINK), while a recent survey found 57% of the population supported gay marriage and only 37% against. The support is much higher in younger people.
‘I am instructed by my solicitor to tell you this. You are just my childminder. but with these differences. You have fewer rights, and it’s your job to pay me.’
Pretty blunt. But actually true. The only right a father (normally) has is to embark on litigation.
WEB LINKS – THIS MONTH’S CHOICE OF INTERESTING ITEMS FROM THE WEB
Do You Actually Need A Father To Raise A Child? - Dr Anna Machin | Modern Wisdom 680 - YouTube (LINK)
Dr Anna Machin, evolutionary biologist from Oxford University discusses the role of fatherhood across time with Chris Williamson on the You Tube Chanel Modern Wisdom 680.
Amicable's guide to talking to the school about your separation | Gingerbread (LINK).
Gingerbread, with their charity partner amicable, have produced a useful guide on how to talk to your children’s school about your separation. Katy Daly also blogs here (LINK) with Dr Ann Howard-Webkinz about the effects Separation on children.
The Identification of Parental Alienation by Amy Baker
Dr Amy Baker leading academic describes the four-factor model for identifying Parental Alienation (LINK).