Press Release: So many Children can't see their Dads at Christmas

PRESS RELEASE – 21st December 2016  - for immediate release 


Spare a thought for Fathers this Christmas as

Family Court Orders Are Cruelly Ignored


FNF Survey of Christmas Parenting Time 2016

Thousands of children are denied a meaningful relationship with their children after separation. This Christmas Families Need Fathers again draws attention to the failures of compliance and lack of enforcement of family court orders made in children’s interests.

FNF carried out a survey of members and supporters to help gain an understanding of their experience of parenting arrangements post-separation last Christmas. We received 402 responses.

Almost half of respondents’ (46.1%) children did not see their other parent last Christmas.

A notable finding is that half of respondents (50.8%) had a court order in place for contact with their children during this period. However, in 56.6% of cases the order was not complied with.

Of those who were not seeing their children, almost three-quarters did not even receive a card or gift from their children (72.9%) or have the opportunity to speak to them on the telephone (76.2%).

These statistics are now echoed in a study by Slater and Gordon solicitors finding that provision for visitation over Christmas was not made for 42% of separated fathers.


FNF’s CEO, Jerry Karlin, said “It is certainly very important to have some kind of written or formal agreement for contact at Christmas, but the bigger problem arises when it seems impossible to enforce the agreement whether ordered by a court or not.  Christmas is a sensitive time for children and parents alike, but that so many dads report that they have not seen their children at all, let alone at Christmas is scandalous”.

The comments made by respondents support this with many saying that “the contact order was worthless” or “she has never stuck to the court order ever and got away with it” or “I wanted to see them or to speak to them but was told ‘no’ by the mother” or “I have no idea if my daughter sees cards and gifts sent”. Many respondents also reported Parental Alienation (PA) being an important factor.

A smaller number expressed joy at a change of heart by their ex “I have seen them for the first time at Xmas for 3 years, it was wonderful” and “FNF gave me the moral impetus to fight for contact and win”.

FNF calls upon the Minister for Justice and the judiciary to address these serious deficiencies in the functioning of the family justice system and in the enforcement of court orders with suitable sanctions such as community service or by granting of court costs against parent refusing to comply with court orders. 

For comment, case studies or information please contact: 


Notes for editors:

Families Need Fathers - because both parents matter
FNF is a registered charity providing information and support on shared parenting issues arising from family breakdown, and support to divorced and separated parents, irrespective of gender or marital status. FNF is NOT a fathers' rights group - we support the best interests of children - namely mature and collaborative parenting by both parents - an objective which is inadequately promoted in the family court system and associated services.

Our primary concern is the maintenance of the child’s meaningful relationship with both parents.

Founded in 1974, FNF helps thousands of parents every year.


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