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FNF are delighted to welcome Erin Pizzey as a Patron

Erin founded Women’s Aid when she opened the first women’s refuge in the world in 1971. Life became more difficult for her when she decided to help male victims too. Erin brings a wealth of experience of the nature and dynamics of domestic abuse – allegations of which are a common feature in family separation.

The growing problem of false allegations, particularly in the context of family separation are neither being investigated nor even addressed by MoJ.

Injunctive orders have soared since they became the only route to Legal Aid in Private Family Law.

Out-of-court resolution through mediation has more than halved.

Delays in family courts are destroying child-parent relationships.

President of the Family Division – Sir Andrew McFarlane acknowledges this.

 

We are delighted to announce that Erin Pizzey, founder of the first women’s’ refuge in the world that started Women’s Aid, has joined ‘Families Need Fathers – because both parents matter’ as a Patron.

 

Today domestic abuse can include anything from a hand on a shoulder at one end of the spectrum to horrendous crimes such as knife attacks or rape. However, today it is also possible for mere allegations of abuse to result in a denial of access to their children – often for months or years as a result of delays in court/Cafcass processes. It can also result in eligibility of the complainant for Legal Aid, but not for the defendant who is left to fend for themselves. These rules are bluntly applied to favour mothers over fathers because of deep and outdated prejudices in the agencies of family justice.

 

The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane on BBC Radio 4’s Law In Action last week[1] reflected this view, saying “I speak regularly with women’s agencies who are, rightly, very keen for the court to take domestic abuse very seriously, which we do. But equally I meet groups such as Families Need Fathers that are a reputable and recognised group of individuals, who feel they have been badly served by the family justice system, who speak about delay, who speak about the court’s inability to get at the bottom of the fact finding process quickly”.

 

In family separation, emotions can run high. The lack of sanctions against those who game the system and exaggerate or fabricate allegations, in order to gain Legal Aid or to prevent ex-partners from being able to parent their children, is making the situation untenable. The collateral damage to good child-parent relationships and thus to children, is enormous. We are not surprised that since the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) was enacted (broadly removing Legal Aid) the number of injunctive Non-Molestation Orders (NMOs) has increased by 9,261 to 28,642; +47.8% (+57.5% based on the latest quarter to June 2019)[2]. Such orders are the primary route to Legal Aid and a signed statement from one party with no evidence is sufficient to trigger this. The escalation of NMOs has coincided with the decline of family mediation from around 15,357 a year pre-LASPO to 6,515 last year (-58%)[3]. In most cases it is not possible for mediators to assist separating parents once allegations of abuse are made.

 

Erin Pizzey FNF Photo min

 

Erin Pizzey says “Of the first 100 women who came to my refuge, 62 were as or more violent than the men they sought refuge from. They all deserved support. However, the gendered view of domestic abuse that today dominates domestic abuse services and influences Government policies, is simply wrong. The roots lie in inter-generational violence and dysfunction. They are not a gender issue and never have been. I recognised this in 1974, at the same time as Families Need Fathers was founded”.

 

Jerry Karlin, Chair and Managing Trustee of Families Need Fathers says “The Ministry of Justice don’t even seek information about the extent to which allegations made in family proceedings are found by the courts to be true, exaggerated or false. Neither do they have an understanding of the nature of domestic abuse, including coercive control and vindictiveness and using children as weapons. Threats of “If you leave (or don’t come back or don’t pay me more money) you will never see your children again” are coercive control. They are also frighteningly common. Delays in courts and ineffectiveness in establishing facts relating to allegations are destroying children’s healthy relationships with parents.”

 

Jerry Karlin continues, “We are delighted that Erin Pizzey has accepted our invitation to be one of our Patrons. Her deep experience of the nature and the effects of domestic abuse is very much valued by us and will help to inform our policies.”

 

Erin Pizzey – Founder of Women’s Aid


Erin established the first refuge for battered women in the world in 1971, but was soon to have a bitter fight on her hands. This was not only with militant feminists – outraged by her discovery that women were often as capable of violence as men – but by councils, social services and courts, which tried to get the over-crowded shelter shut down. Erin’s deep experiences give her unparalleled insights into the issues around domestic abuse, its non-gendered nature, and the motivations of those who fail to see the issues around parental alienation and false allegations – topics she covers as an author of a range of fiction and non-fiction books.

 

Notes for editors:

Families Need Fathers - because both parents matter
FNF is a registered UK 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.

FNF receive approximately 30,000 calls a year to our Helpline and thousands more rely on our local branch network and online support.

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.

Further information may be contacted on 0300 0300 110 or by email at media@fnf.org.uk.

 

A photograph is attached along with relevant data graphs for your convenience. A credit for use of the photograph would be appreciated to: Caulfield/Khan.

 

[1] BBC Radio 4 World In Action 12th November 2019.

[2] Ministry of Justice Family Court Statistics Quarterly: April to June 2019  

[3] Private Law Mediation Starts - Legal Aid Agency 2019

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FNF HSSF Kite Mark Award

Families Need Fathers has been awarded the Help and Support for Separated Families Kite Mark which is a new UK government accreditation scheme for organisations offering help to separated families.

Families Need Fathers work with a range of family law professionals, including Family Law Panel

 

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