THE REVIEW’S PROPOSALS WOULD INTRODUCE ONLY SUPERFICIAL CHANGES TO AN INHERENTLY UNBALANCED SYSTEM; THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD REASSESS THESE RECOMMENDATIONS BEFORE PROPOSING LEGISLATION
The recommendations made in the final report of the Family Justice Review are inadequate to address the deep-seated problems at the heart of the family justice system, and are unlikely to improve outcomes for children or their families.
The report fails to provide for children maintaining meaningful relationships with both parents and their wider family following family breakdown.
Ken Sanderson, CEO of Families Need Fathers, commented, “Sadly, I believe that the report’s focus on ‘making parental responsibility work’ is far too optimistic when it comes to improving long-term outcomes for children and their families. The problem is not that parents are inadequately aware of what parental responsibility means; the crux of the matter is that it is all too easy for one parent to simply ignore this and omit the other from their child’s life, with a justice system which is unable and unwilling to take firm action to prevent this. The absence of any firm recommendations to strengthen children’s rights to a meaningful relationship with both parents, and their wider family, represents a dereliction of duty on behalf of the review, and we implore the government to reconsider this before proposing legislation.”
The panel failed to appreciate that shared parenting and the right to a meaningful relationship with both parents is not a question of time, but of involvement in their physical, educational and emotional development.
Ken Sanderson commented, “The reduction of shared parenting or a meaningful relationship to time alone in the report is a complete misunderstanding of the issues. Shared parenting is not about an equal share of time; it is about ensuring the full involvement of both parents in a child’s life, with both parents having an equal say in areas such as education and health, as well as routine and leisure time. The adoption of these proposals would continue to deny thousands of children the full involvement of two loving parents following family breakdown, and to do so would be a betrayal of yet another generation of children in this country in family law.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provides children with the right to a meaningful relationship with both parents following family breakdown. This is not a challenge to child welfare, but an enhancement of it to ensure that children are fully supported financially and emotionally. The denial of this by the Review is an opportunity lost, and we urge the Government to properly address this issue before proposing future legislation.”
For comment, case studies or information please contact:
Ross Jones, Acting Director of Policy and Research 0300 0300 110
Vahsti Hale, Policy and Research Officer 0300 0300 110
Note for editors: Families Need Fathers (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.
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