Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sorry, but I can't sign this...

A couple of days ago I received an email requesting me to sign an e-petition "to Prosecute women who use false accusations to restrict fathers access to children". The details state:
"It is well know that many women lie to the police to prevent or restrict fathers access to their children. The Police and family courts not only turn a blind eye but their acceptance of this practice only encourages women to keep doing it.

Fathers are not guilty by default! They are usually the more level headed parent, willing to put the childs interests first and yet they are criminalised by the false accusations of their ex partners.

It is often the mothers who are breaking the law and putting their childs interests second to their own selfish and vindictive tendancies."
The email came from someone calling themself 'Justice in-the-family-court', although the petition was proposed by a David Reabow, who has previously proposed a petition "to Give children truly equal parents and bring back common sense to parenting."

Like all family lawyers, I have come across mothers who make false accusations against fathers in an attempt to stop them having contact with their children, but I can't sign this petition. In my experience completely untrue allegations are rare, and where they are made the courts certainly do not 'turn a blind eye'. I also do not think it is true that fathers 'are usually the more level headed parent' - I make no distinction between mothers and fathers, and nor should the law. However, my main reason for not signing is that I do not think it would be at all helpful if more mothers were 'criminalised' in this way. It is already, of course, an offence to commit perjury (perhaps parties should be reminded of this), and involving the criminal law any further in what is a civil matter cannot be to the benefit of anyone, especially the children.


  1. John,

    Surely you cannot have been in family Law for as long as you have without coming across the excesses of Families Need Fathers before?

    One of the biggest hurdles that they, and F4J face is their membership and their distorted ideas of the system!


  2. Hi Swizz,

    Yes, I believe I have heard of FNF!



  3. I agree with your comments - In my practice, I don't see one gender as being, typically, mre or less level headed or conered about children's welfare. Like you, I've come accreoss mothers who make false accusations against fathers, and also fathers who make false accusations against mothers
    Also slightly puzzled by the reference to these level headed, dedicated fathers being 'criminalised' - I presume that they are talking about men convicted of assaults / harrasment on the basis of what they would consider false accusations. . . does it give ny other clues?

  4. No other clues, but I suppose it may also refer to falsely alleging that fathers have committed criminal acts against the children.

  5. I see the petition is signed by the usual protagonists.

    Barry Worrall, of the UK Men's Movemen and Cheltenham Group who say "The situation [in the family court system] for men is so serious, comparable to that of the Jews in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s." Mark Harris, FnF roof protestor, committed to prison for breaking orders intended to protect his children from the harm that they suffered by unauthorised contact with him and his continued harassment of them and their mother. Stan Hayward, former FnF research officer associated with a far right Christian and racist organistation in the States that called for the repeal of the 19th Amendment that gives women the right to vote.

    The sad thing is their sexism fuels a cycle of provocation and retaliation which does nothing to help fathers. Grr...

  6. Thanks, Fiona. Let us hope that for once the Government doesn't listen to those who shout loudest.

  7. I am distressed to read some of these comments. Like any campaigning group, activist fathers are an easy target. Before tarring all, or the majority, of them with the "loony fringe" brush just take a moment to reflect on mainstrean attitudes to Friends of the Earth, say, 15 years ago. And even if you think FotE remain loonies, please take a moment to distinguish their message from their method.

    As for the message, and the facts, let me just say that false allegations (and what they say about the state of the underlying wrangle over children) are serious in the same way that Bird Flu is serious--it's incidence may be low but its effect, where it occurs, is devastating. As for John's confident assertion that where false allegations occur "the courts certainly do not 'turn a blind eye', well, I'm afraid that's simply wrong. In my own case, I have been the victim of numerous and recurring false allegations, leading to the criminal prosecution of one barrister and the disciplining (in connection with a quite different false allegation) of another barrister. Far from dealing seriously with the record the courts have repeatedly pronounced the past to be dead. Unsurprisingly, this has only increased the propensity of mum to redouble her efforts in her attempt to limit my contact further. Thus we are currently back in court for our 31st appearance before our 12th judge in 4 years. The latest allegation is of violence. Fortunately, there are 2 witnesses to the alleged event and a recording of it. But when my counsel pressed for time to make a finding of fact the judge flatly refused, saying it would only serve to escalate the hostilities and increase the temperature. Such is the sorry, sorry state of things.

    For all family law practitioners who would say that experiences like mine are outside the norm I respond: yes, fortunately their statistical incidence may indeed be low. But probably not as low as your experience might suggest. Because parents who find themselves in these situations often do so after years of wrangling, by which time they have neither the resources nor confidence to instruct representation. So a lot of what goes on goes on below the radar.

  8. You are, of course, quite right that the effect of false allegations can be devastating, and I am not for one moment suggesting that we should be complacent, but I do not think that a petition such as this is the way to resolve the problem.

  9. I’m sure if you hunt diligently enough, and Fiona clearly has, you will find bigots in any organisation. There must be times when Gordon Brown wishes he could disown the batty Hatty Harperson. I won’t defend bigots: it only takes one for someone like Fiona to use them as representative of a whole campaign. It is exceptionally difficult however, as I’m sure she will not understand, when your life has been destroyed by the Family Courts, to retain a sense of perspective.

    She should consider, too, that Mark Harris may have had a different attitude before his 133 hearings ordeal, and that once his daughters were old enough to vote with their feet, they chose to live with him. All that Munby said in his judgement has since proved false (and thereby hangs an argument for public access to the process and not just to the judgements of the courts), which neatly brings us to false allegations.

    It is my experience, which is necessarily limited to the cases which come to F4J and FNF, that false allegations are routine, made with impunity, and frequently very effective. One of the worst cases I know of involved allegations made by a father against a mother.

    Fathers 4 Justice makes two criticisms of the family courts in this context; one is that hitherto the system of penal notices and committal has only served to criminalise parents and exacerbate conflict. I do not think the new sanctions will correct this. John is right that criminalising a civil matter is not helpful.

    The other criticism is that an allegation of what would be, if true, a criminal offence, should be dealt with to the criminal standard of evidence and not to the civil standard. It is entirely possible for an allegation against a father to be dismissed in a criminal court but to be accepted in the family court, with a consequent loss of contact. It is outrageous that a man should be falsely accused, for example, of raping his infant daughter, with no consequence to his accuser.

    Those who signed this petition are drawing attention, however clumsily, to a very serious aspect of the courts which is not recognised and not resolved.

  10. Thanks, as usual, for the input Nick. Your point about standard of proof is particularly interesting.

  11. Just to reply to Nick's points. The bigots do influence the campaign. Stan Haywood's 'research' is widely banded about and Jolly Stanesby (whilst sitting on Harriet Harman's roof) actually said on TV what goes on in 'secretive' courts was the biggest abuse of human rights since the holocaust. In the case of Mark Harris all the judges found the difficulty was in his own attitudes, behaviour and obstinacy.

    I do understand it's difficult to keep a perspective and that's why I think it's important not to fuel anger. Ratcheting up grievances escalates anger and aggression and therefore does a great disservice to fathers.

  12. If something doesn't work, like family court's gettind contact to nrps when faced with hostile pwcs, then what is the point in pretending that it does.

    Ok, criticise the guy, but you do not provide any workable alternative and for that I'm with the groups over the likes of the status quo. Having had this rubbish thrown against me and back in court in a few weeks to hear more. I can think of nothing else but to slate the Mum, PWC for being drunk and under influence in custody.

    If courts imposed their own orders like they do in the US we wouldn't have this rubbish.

    It is just rubbish and fills the vacuums and gives the Judges an excuse to not do anything where they were not going to do anything anyways. Change the law, lock up the PWCs who obstruct contacts.

  13. I accept that the public perception of any campaign can be influenced by bigots within it, but that doesn't alter the validity (or otherwise) of the campaign. We try hard to weed out the bigots, but inevitably only after they have betrayed themselves.

    I have to confess my ignorance is such that I have never heard of Stan Haywood, but I shall try to correct that.

    As for Jolly's comment, it may have been an exaggeration in the heat of the moment, but it's not that wide of the mark, and certainly not evidence of bigotry. And I suppose you could call what kept Mark going back to court 133 times obstinacy, but surely that's to his credit. The judges were proved wrong.

  14. In my experience it is all to easy for a mother to make unfounded allegations against the man, in the family courts.

    What the mother says is taken very seriously, and is rarely questioned.

    Accusations against the father are usually believed and there is very little burden of 'proof'.

  15. I share Nick's and other's comments about the experience of family law. In my case, there was professional evidence that our child's mum was causing bruising and concussion from her random violence, which supported by child's school's attempt to make a referral for random violence and abuse. The agencies supporting Family Court chose to discredit the professional and threaten me, the father with criminal proceedings for this abuse, ignoring the evidence that the mother is the abuser.

    There are very serious shortcomings in the family law system here. The point that appears to be missed most in the above posts are the biggest victims of this charade of justice - the children. Most creditable research repeatedly shows that children fare best with a significant relationship with both parents post separation, and that the father's role cannot be replaced by a stepfather. It is the parents who are attempting to cut a parent out of the child's life are the biggest problem for a child. I recall a Canadian researcher suggesting that most mothers who are blocking the father's contact would appear to be suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder (I am pretty certain my ex is), hardly the most effective and safe state of health for a parent!

  16. The expectation that a parent should be able to retain perfect composure when their loved ones have been forcibly removed by total strangers is unrealistic, unsympathetic, and demonstrates a low emotional IQ. Allowances should be made for parents who display the most natural of responses in the most unnatural of circumstances. Recommendations for anger management are sometimes given when all that is required is justice.

  17. The legal profession protests too much and is quick to criticise. The creator of the petition has his rights as a parent and has been falsely accused, but the legal system has let him (and others) down. If justice was fair then there would be far less cases in court and many of the legal profession would be out of work. Lawyers are only lining their own pockets and don't care about humanity nor the heartache they may cause due to wrongful judgement of a father. May the falsely accused go from strength to strength. God knows the truth. The wheel turns slowly but it turns and one day the accuser will be punished.

  18. A child born out of wedlock has the right to both parents. One parent does not have the right to shut the other out of a child's life. The child will grow up and eventually learn the truth but does a selfish mother care about the harm that will have been done to her child? A women should be found guilty if she has chosen a man for one purpose only and that being to fall pregnant. The father has every right to be part of that child's life - without him that child would not have been conceived - he is not a sperm bank and nor is he there only to provide maintenance. The mother chose him to father her child - she does not have the right to exclude the father from his child's life when he wants to be, and is willingly prepared to pay maintenance, nor does she have the right to make false accusations against him for the purpose of keeping them seperated. She is causing unhappiness to an innocent man whom she used for her own selfish gain - a child she badly wanted for her own. Fathers have their rights and if it means getting their voices heard by means of petitions and campaigns, and bringing their plight for all to see, so be it. If what they are doing makes the authorities take note of the harm done to children by selfish parents then their efforts will not have in vane. At least they are doing something and their intentions are good - they obviously love their children and have their welfare at heart and want to be part of their lives. They want justice. Can one blame them for fighting for their rights?

  19. Dutch Public Prosecutioner's Office Study proved: Child sexual abuse allegations in divorce cases unjustified in 95% of cases

    Regarding the prevalation of false or unjustified reports or allegations of child sexual abuse made in Dutch divorce proceedings (by mainly mothers), the Dutch Public Prosecution Office has just recently (November 2008) finished and published its research study based on 42 cases.

    The research proved that in 95% of these cases the child abuse allegations made during divorce proceedings were unjustified and further prosecution was stopped.

    For more detailed information and a download link to the full Dutch language report ("Abuse, Deception and Misunderstanding" by the Expertise Group on Special Sexual Misconductcases with the Dutch Public Prosecution Office (OM); By mr. drs. N.M. Nierop and mr. drs. P. van den Eshof; Netherlands, November 2008) see:

    Father Knowledge Centre Europe - FKCE:

    Peter Tromp
    Father Knowledge Centre Europe

  20. John Bolch wrote: "I make no distinction between mothers and fathers, and nor should the law. However, my main reason for not signing is that I do not think it would be at all helpful if more mothers were 'criminalised' in this way. It is already, of course, an offence to commit perjury (perhaps parties should be reminded of this), and involving the criminal law any further in what is a civil matter cannot be to the benefit of anyone, especially the children."

    Dear John,

    That is an interesting point of view you forwarded (see quote above). I have following related questions to your point of view, that I would like to raise with you and have your view and opinion on:

    1. Regarding your point of view that it is not in the interest of children to "criminalise" their parents in divorce proceedings:
    Isn't the forwarding of (unjustified or justified) abuse allegations in divorce proceedings - like "perjury" - by its very nature also about "criminalising" the other parent, i.e. the (nonresident) father? If so, and making no distinction between mothers and fathers as you say to do, do you consider forwarding those allegations and subsequently "criminalising" their father in divorce proceedings also "not to be to the benefit of anyone, especially the children"?

    2. As to the benefit and best interest of the children you make reference to as your main argument in your point of view:
    What is in your point of view on the scope and nature of effects on both the father-child relation and on children's further lives as individuals, as a result of unjustified allegations of abuse made in divorce proceedings by their mother against their own father and their subsequent exclusion from their father, when they are not unvalidated? Do you consider those effects to be "to the benefit of anyone, especially the children"?

    3. As to your preference for civil versus criminal law in dealing with criminal allegations of abuse or perjury in divorce:
    Do you consider civil divorce proceedings the good and appropriate, or a as good as any, court and law environment for properly and fairly dealing with criminal allegations of either abuse or perjury, whether justified or not?

    4. As a consequence what do you do as a practising family lawyer in civil divorce proceedings yourself? Do you rule these sort of criminalising allegations out in your representation during civil divorce proceedings or do you forward them?

    Wishing you a Merry Christmas with your family,


    Peter Tromp PhD
    Father Knowledge Centre Europe

  21. Swiss Tony said: John, Surely you cannot have been in family Law for as long as you have without coming across the excesses of Families Need Fathers before? One of the biggest hurdles that they, and F4J face is their membership and their distorted ideas of the system! Swizz

    John Bolch answered: Hi Swizz, Yes, I believe I have heard of FNF! ;-) John.

    Hi Swiss, dear John,

    Swiss, you discredit and do not take Families Need Fathers (FNF), a registered and by government accredited civic charity, serious in representating its membership parents (fathers and mothers) in having dealings with the UK divorce and family court system.

    Talking about an accredited NGO, that must have been quite a serious position for you to take.

    I can imagine that you have only taken such a position after extensive consideration and counterchecking of all the available evidence.

    However in your contribution you unfortunately only generally refer to "excesses, their membership and their distorted ideas of the system" without any further specification as to what you have actually based your position on.

    As these evaluations and allegations are serious, could you be so kind to specify to me, as to what your position to deny FNF their legitimate representative function is based on exactly?

    And John, you seem for (implied but not specified) good reason to confirm Swiss's position in your reply. Do I read you right then, when you - being one of the 'partners' in the divorce and family law system yourself - also do not take FNF serious and - contrary to government - deny FNF their representative function as a legitimate 'partner' in the divorce and family court system?

    If so, then also please elaborate the grounds on what this rather serious evaluation and position to deny FNF representative partnership is actually based on?

    I would be most interested to hear your underlying grounds for such a serious position regarding FNF, as I am sure you both have given the matter great consideration and would not have forwarded any prejudiced discrediting positions and opinions like this publicly, if you wouldn't have good grounds to back them up.


    Peter Tromp PhD
    Father Knowledge Centre Europe

  22. from David Currie 12a Keymer Avenue, Peacehaven, East Sussex, BN108NG, UK. Tel:01273 579480

    Dear editor,

    Before an at risk child, (when a mother, primary caregiver, who has custody of the At Risk child), is taken into care, when are all the experts going to ask the following question;

    " In the best interest of the child, would it not be a good idea if we informed the fathers and grandparents how he/they felt about their Abused child/grandchild being taken into care, but, not into their care?"

    Or have they become so convinced by the political correct anti-men/father men only perpetrators, (feminist power dogma) they cannot comprehend that men/fathers/grandparents can and will act in the best interest of the child?

    Unless those involved in the decision that the child be; on the at risk register, or, be taken into care, review the present policies / practices Re: men/fathers/grandparents are regarded as so inferior, they need not be considered suitable for single parenthood, just as black's were deemed so inferior they were excluded from being educated with white's, eating in the same restaurant, sitting on a bus seat?

    Does gender prejudice, discrimination, apartheid, rule the present "primary caregiver" Legal Mind Set?

    When the father is not informed that his child is at risk of abuse/violence/death or given the equal opportunity to be primary caregiver to his child, isn't he and his child/wider family, suffering gender apartheid / further abuse, damaging mental trauma / Parental Alienation from their Child / Child Alienation from it's Fit Male Parent / Grandparents?


    David Currie.

  23. Dear John,

    Having twice been the target of false allegations that bore no resemblance to any form of reality I have come to see how the system works. Sadly your view relates closely to the measured responses I have had from discussions with other solicitors.
    Publically you have to defend the system which has built in bias and inequalities. These inequalities may not be represented in the actual laws but it is the implementation of these laws and lack of upholding these laws in a gender biased way that you do not seem to recognise but then go on to promote.
    I agree that the interests of a child need to be protected but in many cases this is simply an excuse for apathy.
    What is law if it is not enforced? Nothing!
    If I was vindictive like my ex and wanted to exclude that ex from my childs life had a way that - although breaking the law - was without consequince, then why should I not use it. If I found out from mates that they had already done so and got away with it, then why should I be deterred?

    The sad fact is that although the word of the law does not distuinguish between parents with parental responsibility, the implementation or lack of it does.

    This inequality and abuse of the system is what drives these cases back to the courts over and over again. This is most definately not in any childs interests and the only people who do profit from this are in your profesion.

    My two older sons who live with me have been traumatised by police invading their house early one morning (Is this in their interest?).
    They have lived for the last two months thinking that their dad could be locked up (how is this in a childs interest?)
    Hearing my son crying in his sleep that "they" mustn't take his dad away must then be what you describe as being in a childs interest.

    Then there is my baby son, now 4 and a half months. After 6 weeks of not seeing him I doubt he recognised his father and now has no bond with me, his father or his brothers. I take it you deem this to be in is in his interest somehow.

    Now why did my ex do this? Because people like you who decide that mothers should get away with it as it is in "someones" (I can't see how it can be the child) interest! Just whos interest it being served here?

    As for your statistics I suppose you refer to actual "findings" of false allegations. Well, if the system doesn't want to know about "false allegations" then it wont find many for the statistics. Sadly even the police refuse to investigate this criminal offence and therefore offer themselves to mothers as weapons to persecute fathers. I was even threatened to be physically thrown out of the police station when I tried to make a claim. So much for justice being fair, I bet they wouldn't do that to a mother, it would be politically incorrect!

    There is even a "school" for mothers who abuse the system, I have heard it first hand. Standing around the corner from a small group of mothers at my sons day care I heard it in practice. While the actual wording has long been forgotten it went something like this "Just say he hit you, it worked for me. Nothing will happen to you and they cant prove it either way..."
    A simple lie "He hit me" is enough to devastate many lives. A father is arrested, treated like a violent criminal, removed from his home and denied access to his children. His children don't see their father for weeks while the court case gets going. Eventually contact is granted but very limited while the father is on bail. Thousands of pounds of tax payers money is wasted on investigating (looking to charge rather than find the truth) and then on legal aid for the mother. The mother gets what she wants (father gone) once again solicitors make money (common theme here) and the children and father and the tax payer lose out!
    But this is all ok and unpunishable as it's in the childs interest?????
    And of course when the mother sees the chance to get away with it again, would she? I suppose all the turmoil this causes is once again ok to sweep under the carpet as it's in the childs interest.

    A recent government responce to a similar petition said it all: "If the order has still not been complied with he or she could then ask the court to enforce the order as a contempt of court, which is punishable by a fine or imprisonment. The judiciary have, however, said that they are reluctant to impose such sanctions because it would often have an adverse effect on the child"

    I guess it's in a childs interest for a mother to repeatedly deny court ordered contact and get away with it.
    I guess it's not in a solicitors interest for a father repeatedly bring a case back to court and spend thousands?
    Who is the real winner here, look at where all the money goes!

    I'd be happy to step up and be a good parent to my son while his mother serves time for her crimes against me, my sons and the tax payer. Of course I wouldn't be so cruel as to not let her see her child. Surely a father cant be that level headed?

    While I'm on here, thanks to all those women, men and friendly "bigots" who realise the injustice to fathers of the family and criminal courts and signed my petition.

    Oh yes, on a last note, it was a mother (surely not!!) and very "level headed", "child interest focused" deputy head teacher who lied to the police in my case.
    Talk about responsibility for children!!

  24. Hi John,

    Hope i haven't sent the e-mail squad any reason's of concern, i'm sure you are very busy in your profession.

    Steve Bayliss
    F4J Wales-Cymru

  25. Perhaps the deputy head teacher who lied to the police should be named and shamed.

    How can we expect our children to grow up to be level-headed citizens and an asset to this country if they have a teacher such as the one that Anonymous describes. But because she is a deputy head, she will get away with murder.

    If this is how she behaves and the example she sets to the youth of this country, she should not be allowed to teach. I am pleased I don't have children in school who may be in this individual's classroom.

  26. Dear John,

    Five and a half years ago, my ex-wife and her mother actually injured my daughter in the genital area and alleged that I sexually assaulted my daughter.

    The false allegation was made to the local Hospital, only one and a half hours after my children's first overnight visit with me since I had granted her interim sole custody. (There's the "opportunity" part of her crime.)

    Her "means" were clear... she is their mother and the system, especially in London, Ontario, where I live, is incredibly biased against fathers, as well as EXTREMELY forgiving of abusive mothers.

    Her "motive" was also easy to distinguish, since she had stated the same thing to me numerous times, prior to my leaving her: "I'm gonna make your life a living hell."

    When her first attempt failed, by the way, she tried the same allegation with the Family Doctor (two days later, as soon as his office opened on Monday morning), which attempt also failed.

    For five and a half years, the Children's Aid Society, the London Police and even the Crown Attorney's Office have covered up her assault (and numerous other assaults of hers - although not as heinous as her first false allegation), despite the fact that the evidence clearly condemns her.

    (A court recently ordered that I get access to both the Police files and the CAS files, so I have absolute proof of that which I speak.)

    I believe that your heart is in the right place, so I will not make derogatory comments about your allegation that false allegations are rare and very rarely founded on nothing.

    The case involving my ex-wife (and many, many others) proves you wrong.

    Brad C.
    London, Ontario, Canada father

  27. Time and again we hear of abusive mothers and what thay do, yet they are always seen as the innocent party.

    When will the legal profession and the courts remove the wool from their eyes?

    Never! They lining their pockets with gold.

  28. Hi John,

    On Nov 25th you stated that "the effect of false allegations can be devastating" and "not for one moment suggesting that we should be complacent, but I do not think that a petition such as this is the way to resolve the problem."

    Pray tell us, how to solve the problem which is on-going.

    You can't, because the prolem is being caused by people such as yourself, who give women who falsely accuse innocent men who are fighting for their rights as a parent/father, to do so as the women are always seen as the innocent party and the man judged as the guilty party.

    If people such as yourself were genuinely intereted in the welfare of children, you would say enough is enough and put yourself to better use by fighting for the rights of the innocent and not for the guilty.

    Get your act together - stop and think what you are doing. You are guilty of causing a lot of hurt and harm to innocent children, siblings and fathers, simply because you think women are innocent and men guilty. What you are doing is victimising the innocent. The harm you cause does not last for a few minutes while a man is standing in court having sentence passed over him - it is lifelong damage to him, his family and all who love him, including the child/ren that the woman wants to prevent him seeing. Inevitably, the child/ren will grow up and learn the truth - and even more damage will be caused.

    The legal profession are the guilty party for allowing the situation to deteriorate to what it currently is and the guilty women are making fools of you.

    All your years of study have made you foolish leaches living off the innocent.

  29. Fiona and John to my mind are typical of the system that exists. What they will never accept is that this system that allows to exclude fathers harms the children as much as it does the fathers.
    The contempt for fathers lies at the heart of ferral Britain essentially, and those that support it are no better than those that excluded blacks or women from voting in generations gone by. They are not only barbaric but time will clearly show what we all know, they are in fact child abusers, robbing children of their childhoods and screwing up their adult lives as a consequence.

  30. I see the vested interests bullies are on this forum as well.

    He doesn't want to sign the petition. Why can't you people understand that when someone does not want to sign something, no-one can bully them by force to do so?


  31. John, it is disconcerting that you respond "Thanks" to someone who defends you and calls those with differing opinions from yours as "bullies", yet you have not even taken the time to acknowledge the pain endured by those who truly are victims of false allegations.

    Sad, really.

    Brad C.


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