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CAFCASS Betrays the Trust of Fathers

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION 27 July 2017 (Updated)

In an extraordinary move the Ministry of Justice agency CAFCASS (Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) have opened confidential case files to Women’s Aid to undertake a study of allegations of domestic abuse.

Family justice charity Families Need Fathers is very disappointed that a Government agency has published a press release favouring the views of a lobbying charity relating to women and girls without any reference to balancing views regarding the widespread abuse of men and boys in the context of the family courts. This is a one-sided publication that is clearly intended to influence practice in the Family Courts.

The biggest issue is the ‘perception’ of bias. CAFCASS is a Government agency while Women’s Aid campaigns for recognition that ‘Domestic violence and abuse is a devastating form of violence against women and girls’. Understandably given their remit, Women’s Aid is not an obvious advocate for the experience of men and boys who are also victims of abuse – including the deliberate making of unfounded allegations against fathers in the context of family disputes.

This problem was identified by the CAFCASS Board when the study was first announced in June of 2016. However management reassured the Board that training for their frontline staff does not place a sole focus on women as victims and they claimed that the organisation worked with Mens Aid (an inactive small charity) and others on the issue of abuse and domestic violence committed against men.

A second major problem with the ‘research’ is that it is focussed on allegations of abuse rather than the reality. Organisations that primarily support men have been raising concerns about the prevalence of unfounded and, increasingly often, obviously malicious allegations, made in the Family Court and a complete lack of any form of deterrent or consequence for making such claims – despite these technically being a criminal offence of ‘perverting the course of justice’ – understandably a serious offence carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Making allegations of abuse is already a motorway to obtaining Legal Aid and many within the judiciary openly acknowledge that fact. Now we learn that almost 2/3rds of cases are ‘alleged’ to involve allegations of abuse. The joint report itself stated that

‘The purpose of the study was to look at the types of allegations present in family law court proceedings, including safeguarding concerns other than domestic abuse, and what happened within the proceedings. It did not seek to make findings on the allegations’

Increasingly, the absurd notion of on the one side requiring the acceptance of any allegations by women as true, regardless of evidence, and at the same time promoting the belief that fathers are too dangerous to be trusted with their own children, is severely undermining today’s political agenda. The result of such malicious, unfounded allegations has been that thousands of children each year have been denied time with their much loved dads for many months, in many cases leading to the permanent loss of a good and loving parent.

Many fathers in difficult separation cases already have very low confidence in the result of interventions of CAFCASS. If they are to have support of mums AND dads CAFCASS need to demonstrate the kind of leadership that will lead to the confidence of both.

Sadly an opportunity has been missed. CAFCASS need to be seen to be calming rather than fuelling gender-based conflict.  A radical change in approach is required to rebuild the trust with the 50% of litigants in the Family Court who happen to be fathers - because both parents matter.

CAFCASS/WA press release is here

ENDS

Please address any queries/requests for info 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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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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