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Press Releases

Fathers Day 2017

More Support Needed for Fathers

For immediate release 15/6/2017

Why does Mother’s Day always get more attention than Father’s Day? Popular narrative on a mother’s position still casts her as the primary carer, yet all the evidence suggests that the role of fathers is vital, undervalued and in need of far more recognition and support, especially in separated families.

Children born today have a 50% chance of their parents separating before they reach 16 years of age. The consequences are far more pernicious that most people realise. Family separation affects around 180,000 children every year. 90% of these children will end up living with only one parent, almost always mum. According the Office of National Statistics (ONS) 3.8 million children have no paternal involvement at all.  This is hardly surprising given that 40% lose contact with their fathers within three years of separation and only 15% are still in contact with their fathers by the age of 15.

The evidence of poor outcomes for children growing up without paternal involvement is overwhelming. The risks to mental health, school, future relationships and work are doubled for children not enjoying some kind of responsibly shared care by their parents whether together or apart. These difficulties are also linked to higher rates of crime, teenage pregnancy and other disadvantages.

Families Need Fathers are asked by thousands of parents a year, mostly dads, for support with maintaining their relationships with their children after separation.

Some 50,000 a year seek the support of family courts and most are granted contact orders. However in a surprisingly large number of cases, for whatever reasons, mum discourages or eliminates contact despite these orders by the court, preferring to airbrush dad out of their own, and by some cruel and unmotherly extension, their children’s lives. We have seen thousands of such cases, many despite tens of thousands spent on lawyers and court costs (by each family) resulting in little more than more pain for the children.

Jerry Karlin, Chair and Managing Trustee of FNF says: “It’s a disgrace.  Thousands of Parents With Care (PWCs), mostly mums, disregard such orders and treat them as optional. Of the over 5,000 annual applications for enforcement, courts only take action to enforce their own orders in less than 2% of cases. And as if this was not enough, our Child Maintenance, Parental Leave and benefits systems undermine gender equality by offering mothers and PWCs financial incentives for excluding their ex-partners from fuller parental roles.”

Our family support systems are broken. The Relationship Foundation calculated the cost of family breakdown to be £48bn (2016) or £1,820 per tax payer! In many other jurisdictions such primitive approaches are substantively consigned to history. ‘Let dads be dads’ and ‘Men need to be seen as fathers’ said H.E. Staffan Herrstrom, a Swedish ambassador to several countries last week, on a UNICEF blog. He is so right.

A FNF Father’s Day survey carried out last year received 441 responses and given the issues highlighted above, it is perhaps not so surprising that:

    • 60% of respondents’ children were unable to have any direct contact with their fathers last year!
    • This was made up of 47% of respondents said that their children were unable to mark Father’s Day at all last year and a further 13% said that they would only have contact by phone, email or by post.

FNF appeals to all Parents including grandparents, to support children’s relationships with both parents, and especially on this Father’s Day, for separated fathers. Please consider whether the obstacles that are so often put in the way of such relationships are really in the child’s interest.

Jerry Karlin adds: “We call upon the government to review family policies to ensure the family justice system ceases to result, for thousands of children and parents each year, in wicked and damaging injustice. Stop this abuse of children now!”

Please address any queries/requests for data to FNF (media@fnf.org.uk) - 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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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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