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The UK's leading Shared Parenting charity

Read Me First

This page is the best place to start and find out some answers to your initial questions. To use this page click on the 'Q' to reveal the answer 'A'. To clear the answer click again on the yellow 'Q'. If there is something you don’t understand please call the FNF National Office on 0300 0300 110 or the National Helpline 0300 0300 363.

General Enquires

How do I join?

Joining is easy and you can do it by the click of a button. Go to Join Us to find out more.

Anyone can be a member of Families Need Fathers. Our members include fathers, mothers, resident and non-resident parents, grandparents, new partners and friends as well as people who agree with what we do.

What do I get if I am a member of Families Need Fathers?

• Access to the members’ area of the FNF website
    o Download all our factsheets for free
    o Download court forms and read instructions on how to fill them in and make an application to court
    o Download parenting plans
    o Access to workshop videos and much more!
• McKenzie magazine - keeping you up-to-date on all developments in the family law field 
• List of local telephone contacts and referral to panel of members with in-depth knowledge on matters ranging from child maintenance to CAFCASS
• Discounts on publications and books
• Access to our online forum
    o Receive support and advice from other members
    o Share your story and hear from others in similar situations

Members help us to get changes made so that both parents can share the care of their children after they separate.

How can you help me?

Have you separated from your partner or do you think you will? Are you worried about not seeing your children or about the effect the breakdown of your relationship might have on them? If you are, Families Need Fathers can help you with the support and information you need.

We help mothers, fathers, grandparents, new partners and extended families. We are here to help parents and their families go on giving the love, care and support that their children need after separation - and we support parents and families to do this - especially if you are having problems in coming to an agreement on your own.

Support and information is available in a number of ways:

  • National telephone helpline - available from 9am - 10pm Monday to Friday, 10am - 3pm at weekends on 0300 0300 363.
  • Local branch meetings - where you can get face-to-face advice, talk through your situation with others in similar circumstances and be with other people who know how you feel and can give you ideas. (You can always take someone along with you i.e. your partner, parent or friend).
  • Factsheets and publications - from dealing with CAFCASS, making decisions about money, getting welfare reports and how to represent yourself in court which means you don’t need to pay for a solicitor.
  • Online forums - where you can 'chat', ask for the advice and experience of other members and get feedback all the time.


There are more things you get if you are a member. To find out more click here.

There are other places where you can get the information, services and help you need. Click here for links to other help and support.

Where is my nearest branch?

We have branches across the country from Newcastle to Exeter, click here to find out where your nearest one is. You can always take someone along with you i.e. your partner, parent or friend.

Can I talk to someone?

You can phone the helpline on 0300 0300 363 (9am - 9pm Monday to Friday, 10am - 3pm at weekends). If you are a member you can also call one of your local contacts.

 

I need help with the law, the courts etc. How do I find this?

the helpline, visit your local branch meeting, post a question on the e-mail forum or go to law and information section on this site.

I don’t understand some of the terms and phrases used. Where can I find out what they mean?

Resident parent – parent that the child lives with most of the time.

Non-resident parent – the parent that the child doesn’t live with most of the time.

Court order – what the judge decides at the court.

Child Arrangements Order – an order made by a judge saying that sets out who the child lives with, when they spend time with the other parent, and so on.

Contact – the time the non-resident parent spends with the child, also called parenting time.

Direct Contact – is when you see your child face-to-face.

Indirect Contact – is talking to your child on the phone or sending them letters.

Contact issues – are problems with contact or parenting time

Interim contact – contact before a decision is being made at the next court hearing.

Mediation – is talking to the other parent with someone else there to help you make decisions, and not always in the same room.

Parental responsibility - a legal definition, and means you are able to make decisions about your child and get information about them from schools and doctors.

Shared Parenting – means both parents look after the child for some of the time.

Cafcass- Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service

Hearing – going to court so that a judge can make a decision.

First directions hearing – the first time you go to the court.

Interim hearing – when you go to the court, not for the first time, but before a judge makes a final decision. This might be while the judge is waiting for a Cafcass officer to write a report.

Final hearing – is the last time you go to court. The judge will make a decision about you and your child.

Cafcass or Section 7 report – the judge can order a report about you and the other parent before he makes a decision.

 

 

Contact/Parenting Time

I have just broken up with my partner and I am worried about not seeing my children. What can I do so I don’t stop seeing them?

Families Need Fathers can help you. We can give you general information about seeing your children (these are called contact issues) or help you with your own situation.

 

There are three different ways we can provide you with help:

The best way to receive help from us is to become a member. Then you can get help in different ways including factsheets, information books and our internet forums, where you can 'chat', ask for the advice and experience of other members and get feedback all the time.

Another way to get help and support is our helpline on 0300 0300 363 (7am-midnight, 7 days a week).

 

Or if you go to a local branch meeting you can receive face-to-face advice from local members. Go to http://www.fnf.org.uk/help-and-support/local-branch-meetings to find the closest one to you.

My children don’t have any contact with me, what can I do?

You have come to the right place; FNF can give you help and support. The best way to get help from us is to:

Join and become a member.

Or phone our helpline.

Or go along to your local branch meeting (you can always take someone along with you i.e. your partner, parent or friend).

We may also have information that will help you in our factsheets. These are free to download if you are a member.

 

I have been stopped from seeing my children, can you help?

Unfortunately the parent that the children are living with can sometimes stop the other parent from seeing their own children. You can get help from us.

Join and become a member.

Or phone our helpline.

Or go along to your local branch meeting (you can always take someone along with you i.e. your partner, parent or friend).

We also may have information that will help you in our factsheets. These are free to download if you are a member.

 

My children need to see me, what can I do?

You have come to the right place; FNF can give you help and support. The best way to get help from us is to:

Join and become a member.

Or phone our helpline.

Or go to your local branch meeting (you can always take someone along with you i.e. your partner, parent or friend).

We also may have information to help you in our factsheets. These are free to download if you are a member.

Is anyone allowed to stop my children from seeing me?

Only a court can officially stop you from seeing your children. If anyone else tries to stop you, you can do something about it. Please call our helpline on 0300 0300 363 (7am-midnight, 7 days a week) to get support over the phone.

I am a grandparent and I have not seen my grandchild since their parents broke up. What can I do?

You can get help and support from us by:

Join and become a member. (You can get help for your son or daughter from us.)

Or phone our helpline.

Or go to your local branch meeting (you can always take someone along with you i.e. your partner, parent or friend).

We also may have information to help you in our factsheets. These are free to download if you are a member.

 

 

 

Legal Issues

Do I have a responsibility to see my children?

Yes your children need you to be part of their life. Please read our parental responsibility factsheet: http://www.fnf.org.uk/publications-and-policy/factsheets-and-guides

You can also find out more by:

By becoming a member, phoning our helpline or by going to your local branch meeting (you can always take someone along with you i.e. your partner, parent or friend).

We also may have information to help you in our factsheets. These are free to download if you are a member.

 

Do I have any legal rights as a father?

Do you have Parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility is a legal label tying a parent to their child. For more information please download our factsheet at: http://www.fnf.org.uk/publications-and-policy/factsheets-and-guides

Go to http://www.fnf.org.uk/law-and-information/parental-responsibility for more information.

Or phone our helpline and speak to someone.

 

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental responsibility is a legal label tying a parent to their child. For more information please download our factsheet at: http://www.fnf.org.uk/publications-and-policy/factsheets-and-guides

Go to http://www.fnf.org.uk/law-and-information/parental-responsibility for more information.

Or phone our helpline to speak to someone.

 

Do my children have any legal rights to see me?

Yes they do. Children have the right to see both their parents if it is safe.

Most important is Section 9 of the UN Convention on Rights of the Child:

"Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child's best interests."

 

 

 

What can I do to see my children?

There are different ways of getting to see your child:

- Mediation. This means talking to someone with or without the other parent there, who will try to help you both sort out the problems. 

- A family member or friend could help you talk about problems. You don’t have to be in the same room if it is difficult.

- Contact Relate and see if they can help you.

- Collaborative law is a good idea for some people. This means using solicitors to help you sort out your problems without going to court.

- Try to talk to your ex partner if you can. Or try writing a letter. Suggest what you can do together to help your children. You can get help to write letters from our forum http://www.fnf.org.uk/help-and-support/fnf-online-forum. Solicitors and going to court can cost a lot of money.

I feel like I’ve tried everything. Do I have to go to court so I can see my children?

It’s always best not to go to court, but if you have tried everything to sort out the problems then you may have to go to court. Contact our helpline or go to a localto discuss this.

I can’t afford to go to court again to see my children, what can I do?


You don’t have to have a solicitor. You can go to court on your own. FNF can give you a lot of help if you decide to do this. To find out more information click here.

You can apply to have the court fees rebated, using form EX160 available from the court or from here.

If you need more help, phone our helpline

 

 

 

Shared Parenting

What is Shared Parenting?

Shared Parenting means both parents look after their children and make decisions about them even when they don’t live together. The children don’t have to be with both parents for the same amount of time. Please see our guide to shared parenting.

 

 

 

Child Maintenance and Money Problems

I am having problems with child maintenance; what can I do?

Go to one of our branch meetings to talk to other parents who may be able to help you. Or you can also call the helpline.

You can also get advice from NACSA who help people in this area.

CM Options give information on the maintenance options available to parents.

How do I provide for my children?

The money you pay for your child (child support) can be agreed with the other parent.

It is worth contacting CM Options if you have any questions about how to provide child support.

What is child maintenance?

Child maintenance is what one parent pays the other parent who looks after the child most of the time.

The definition from CM Options:

“Child maintenance is regular, reliable financial support that helps towards a child's everyday living costs. The parent without the main day-to-day care of the child pays child maintenance to the other parent.”

http://www.cmoptions.org/en/maintenance/index.asp

I am separating. When can I sort out what I need to pay for my child (child maintenance)?

Go to a branch meeting to talk to other FNF members who may be able to help you, you can also call the helpline.

See the CM Options website for more information:

When do I stop paying for my child? How long do I have to pay child maintenance?

Usually until the children are aged 16, or 19 if they go on to further education (e.g. A-levels). However ask CM Options about your child.

My children live with me half the time. Can I get any benefits?

This doesn’t often happen. Look on directgov and see if you will be able to get anything.

 

 

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  • This is a tragic story of coercive control of a young man by his girlfriend. It is shocking when such behaviour exists regardless of whether the perpetrator is a man or a woman. Domestic abuse against men is considered by many to be far more common than people think and under-reported. There are likely to be various reasons for this, but one that occurs frequently is the fear that they will lose access to their children. The Office for National Statistics says "The most common type of domestic abuse experienced in the last year was partner abuse, with 4.5% of adults reporting this type of abuse. Whilst a higher proportion of women reported experience of partner abuse in the last year than men (5.9% compared with 3%), similar proportions of men and women reported experience of family abuse". Please support us by liking, sharing and following us, making a donation, registering with us for free or becoming a member. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-43799850
  • As the number of applications to family courts reached a new high of 52,168 last year, grandparents are also increasingly seeking to protect their relationships with their grandchildren. Not sure it needed 'experts' to confirm that most of these are paternal grandparents. Please support us by liking, sharing and following us, making a donation, registering with us for free or becoming a member. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/08/grandparents-go-court-custody-battles-grandchildren/
  • We often hear of fathers who are denied time with their children from day one. Sometimes they deny paternity, even when a child looks like their dad. Recently published US research, focusing on separated parents of infants, showed that not only did dads spend more time with their children when they looked like them and they were sure of their paternity, but increased fathers involvement and resulted in significantly better health of their children by the time they were one year old. Mums wishing the best for their children should think twice if they are considering restricting access by fathers to their babies without compelling, unselfish reasons. Please support us by sharing this, following us, liking, registering for free, on our website, donating or becoming a member of FNF. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5479377/Babies-look-like-dad-tend-healthier-study-finds.html
  • The crime wave on London’s streets is shocking. Who would have thought that London would ever surpass New York as a murder capital, even if only for the month of March 2018 (in general US figures remain far worse). The problems of violent crime are no-doubt many and complex. Socioeconomic factors pay a part, but one striking fact keeps cropping up – fatherlessness. Cressida Dick, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, acknowledged this. David Lammy, an MP whose constituency has been badly affected by knife and other serious crime observed “I have sat with too many parents, usually mothers, who have lost their children to knife crime,” and “usually the child that has committed the offence comes from a background where the father has been absent.” Indeed, that is the case in the vast majority of cases where children lack positive paternal role models and these young people are nine times more likely to commit crimes. Other studies support this. One 2014 paper on The Effect of Single Parent Family on Child Delinquency, stated “A very real connection between delinquent behaviour, and single parent families in particular mother-only families, produce more delinquent children than two parent families.” The common assumption is that dads don’t want more involvement with their children, abandon them and are ‘deadbeats’. However, 2017 research by Dr John Barry of University College London suggests that “Men treasure fatherhood. Their sense of responsibility to their own children trumps all other concerns and their own fathers are the biggest influencers on their attitude”. Our experience mirrors this. Thousands each year contact us looking for support in maintaining those relationships after family separation or even when the parents never actually lived together. Some 35,000 family court applications a year are made by fathers who wish to retain their parental roles. They then go through a protracted and emotionally as well as financially expensive process, to get a Child Arrangements Order. Where they are successful it is because a judge has determined that the paternal relationship is in the best interest of the child. Yet when those orders are broken family courts rarely act to enforce their own orders in the 6,000 applications to do so each year. Many other parents give up before getting to this stage. Ministerial assurances that 'judges have the powers' are simply not good enough as, for various reason, courts are not applying them. Ministers demonstrate, at best, an ignorance of the problem and at worst wilful negligence and dicing with children's lives – and it seems with the lives of those affected by the most recent wave of knife and gun crime in London. Support FNF by sharing this, liking our page, following us, registering for free, donating or joining.
  • Isn't it about time in the modern world that we stopped making separate rules for men and for women? Judges already have the discretion to take into account any mitigating circumstances such as child care - when sentencing men AND women. Women want to be believed when they make accusations. Women don't want to be cross-examined by their alleged perpetrators and now they want to be treated differently when they are being sentenced. The CSJ is recommending spending less on (women's) prisons and giving the money instead to services specifically provided for women (usually by women's groups too). It seems, from this report that only vulnerable women deserve more to be spent on them. But there are many more men in prison than women, and whatever we may believe about the gender vulnerability gap, that must mean there are likely to be many more vulnerable men than vulnerable women in prison in total. Assuming they want to, judges are perfectly enabled to being fair to all people already, irrespective of gender, based on evidence. In this day and age, the last thing we want is to promote further discrimination between genders. For the record, abused men also want to be believed in court, nor do they feel safe being cross-examined by their exes, and many men would benefit from constructive alternatives to prison - that's almost a no-brainer. And on the subject of government gender pay gaps - let's have an up to date comparison between the resources provided for helping vulnerable men and resources provided for helping vulnerable women. Let's see someone demonstrate that less than 100 times more is currently being spent on women than on men. Although many more men ask for our support than women (ask yourselves why), we are a gender-inclusive charity, but we have to speak up at some recent trends to ignore such a large part of the population. When they try to make a case for treating women better than men, are the CSJ suggesting women should be given the whole cake and eat it? https://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/library/a-woman-centred-approach-freeing-vulnerable-women-revolving-door-crime
  • Research in one US state shows how judges were more likely to exercise gender bias than the public in determining shared parenting arrangements. All other things being equal, just 3% awarded more parenting time to dads than mums. Support FNF by sharing this, liking our page, following us, registering for free, donating or joining. http://www.spsp.org/news-center/press-releases/gender-judicial-bias

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

 

Upcoming Events

21/04/2018 Sat: Harrow Branch Meetings
23/04/2018 Mon: London Central Meeting
24/04/2018 Tue: Harrow Branch Meetings
25/04/2018 Wed: Cambridge Meeting
26/04/2018 Thu: London East (Tower Hamlets)
26/04/2018 Thu: Exeter Meeting
30/04/2018 Mon: Reading Meeting
1/05/2018 Tue: Leeds Central Meeting
1/05/2018 Tue: Newcastle Meeting
1/05/2018 Tue: Oxford Meeting (check day with branch)
1/05/2018 Tue: Northampton Meeting
2/05/2018 Wed: Manchester Meeting
2/05/2018 Wed: Epsom Meeting
2/05/2018 Wed: London West Meeting & Solicitor Clinic
3/05/2018 Thu: Solent Meeting
3/05/2018 Thu: Liverpool-Wirral Meeting
7/05/2018 Mon: London Central Solicitor's Clinic