For immediate release 04/08/2017
Families Need Fathers (FNF) the UK's leading shared parenting charity are today releasing the transcript of Sir James Munby's speech at FNF’s recent 2017 annual conference.
In his judgment published yesterday, Sir James said in the case of child 'X' “we, the system, society, the state … will have blood on our hands”.
At our conference, Sir James – President of the Family Division - went further, identifying many flaws in family justice itself that must be fixed. He observed:
that 'family courts are [becoming] a lawyer-free zone'
(More and more people are forced to represent themselves if they can’t afford lawyers)
that we need to recognise 'the reality of parental alienation'
(Children are being deprived of a parent by the other parent’s malicious or undermining behaviour)
‘One of the greatest vices of the system… is the unfounded allegation [of violence/abuse] which festers around and poisons the process.‘
‘we know that people game the system, and the classic example of that is one of the bits of LASPO [Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012] is you do get legal aid if there’s an allegation of domestic violence…’
Sir James is using of his position as the President of the family courts to improve outcomes for children of which this most difficult case is just the most recent of many examples.
Speaking to Families Need Fathers he recently identified some of the key deficiencies of the current Family Justice System that remain to be addressed e.g.
· Dealing with unfounded allegations (something that has become commonplace in family disputes)
· Avoiding situations that result in parental alienation (the poisoning of a child against a once loved parent). CAFCASS recently recognised publicly that parental alienation (PA) is child abuse, however, neither they nor the family courts have so far developed adequate responses to prevent the horrendous damage caused by such behaviours – Namely the permanent loss of parental relationships (in 90% of cases with fathers) and consequent increased likelihood of children grown up with reduced self-esteem, poorer mental health, damaged ability to form healthy relationships and often quite serious damage to their overall well-being.
· The President also highlighted the difficulties of individuals navigating the complex family law system without a lawyer (since Legal Aid was removed from private family law in 2013).
· Providing legal aid to one side where malicious allegations are made against ex-partners that cause delay and distress to those against whom they are made.
Chair of Families Need Fathers, Jerry Karlin says “These are difficulties that typically feature in half of cases that people come to FNF for. The list is not comprehensive, but the issues discussed by Sir James point to a Family Justice System that is increasingly unfit for purpose. Without urgent action to take these factors into account, thousands of children every year will needlessly continue to lose a parent from their lives.”
Full details of The President’s speech and Q&A session can be found here.
The judgment of the 17 year old child ‘X’ can be found here: (www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/x-a-child-no-3-2017-ewhc-2036-fam-20170803.pdf)
Please address any queries/requests for info to FNF (firstname.lastname@example.org) - 0300 0300 110.
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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