Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fathers4Justice response to the Family Justice Review

To get a different perspective, I've been looking at the response of fathers' rights group Fathers4Justice to the Family Justice Review. Their website states that:

In a detailed response to David Norgrove, Chairman of the panel, F4J Campaign Director Nadine O’Connor wrote [my (purposely brief) comments in italics]:

  • This was a review the Conservative Party committed to scrapping before it was elected in a coalition government, saying it was not ‘credible nor far reaching enough’ in terms of its remit. The reports primary function was to look at procedure, not principle. I don't know what promises the Conservatives made, or whether they had to drop a promise to scrap the Review as part of the coalition agreement, but if F4J are saying they want another review, that seems highly unlikely now. 
  •  
  • The review panel was not impartial – it excluded parents and users of the system. Would Sir Bob Geldof be impartial (see below)? I'm not sure that someone who is or has been 'just' a 'user' of the system would have sufficient expertise to be on the panel.
  •  
  • The report has rejected the testimony of over 10,000 parents submitted by Fathers 4 Justice. Sounds impressive, but this isn't a numbers game.
  •  
  • The report supports secret courts and rejects transparency and public accountability. I'm not sure that's true - the terms of reference did mention transparency, but the Review didn't really deal with it.
  •  
  • The report rejects a parents right in law to see their children. Surely, we should be talking about children's rights, rather than parents' rights?
  •  
  • The report rejects claims of gender bias despite 93% of residencies being awarded to mothers. But is this due to a 'gender bias', or other (societal) factors, which make it more appropriate for children to reside with their mother?
  •  
  • The report rejects the principle of equality and shared parenting, saying it was ‘not in the bests interests of the child’. Yes, but I don't think there is any 'establishment' bias here - many family lawyers are in favour of such a presumption.
  •  
  • The report states that grandparents ‘can be a risk to their grandchildren.’ I don't know where it said this, but grandparents can be unhelpful, especially when they 'take sides' with their own child.
  •  
  • Yet the report acknowledges that no records have been kept on the outcomes for children. How can the Family Justice Review panel know what is in the ‘best interests of a child’ without empirical evidence? Yes, but the Ministry of Justice did of course undertake research on outcomes, to provide evidence for the Review.
  •  
  • The report fails to address the massive increase in the number of warring parents going to court and the impact government cuts to legal aid will have in the increase in the number of unrepresented parents going to court. Well, yes (save for saying that the impact of the reforms should be monitored), but the reforms were, of course, announced long after the Review was commissioned.
  •  
  • On the issue of delay, F4J says delay is caused by through the systemic incompetence of organisations like Cafcass who have been repeatedly condemned by Ofted and the court system itself which is run by an ‘unelected, unaccountable and unsackable judiciary operating in complete secrecy.’ I'll make no comment on that, but I do find the Review's proposals for dealing with delay to be somewhat unconvincing.
  •  
  • F4J says the courts are for criminals and are entirely inappropriate for dealing with family cases. Well, not all courts are for criminals, but they may have a point here. Certainly, family cases should not be dealt with alongside criminal cases, as I've said before.
  •  
  • F4J is calling for a full, independent public enquiry into the Family Courts headed by Sir Bob Geldof and former Home Secretary David Blunkett. He may be a saint, but I'm not sure how the Sir Bob is qualified for such a task...

8 comments:

  1. What a load of silly facile (italic) comments. Did you really apply your mind?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Excellent piece of argument, Anonymous. You ever tried mooting?

    ReplyDelete
  3. How are children's rights to be protected when one parent is determined to stop their contact with the other parent?

    Surely the child's right by law to have a full and meaningful relationship with both parents is the only solution in these very difficult situations.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, although the child's right to have contact with both parents is, of course, already enshrined in the law - see Article 9 of the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you John. I will look later at Article 9.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The truth about Fathers4Justice is clear for all to see when you consider this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TeiGZVWnuJA#!
    on the home page of their campaign website it has only received 209 views since 11 November, Ten years ago they could blag their popularity the internet removes that myth.

    The problems in the family courts were never primarily about equality and F4J have only ever represent a very very small proportion of fathers.

    I look forward to the day that this group of unfortunate fathers face up to their own personal responsibility in their divorce and move on with their lives, facing the fact that not although perfect, equality in the UK is very much better than it is in many countries in the world, I personally can think of very few that have a more equitable society.

    There are issue in the divorce process, in my opinion Professional Standards are sadly lacking, there are no credible quality standards, no independent auditing of solicitors performance,scant attempts at measuring quality of outcome. The adversarial process itself is not helpful, the ridiculous costs tell a story in themselves, the suitability of the judges,not forgetting the unrealistic expectations of the divorcing couples, none of these would be improved by yet another legal argument for divorcing couples.

    I am a father and my family was destroyed by the legal process of divorce, in the name of equality my children were spilt up, one to me, one my ex wife, absolutely against my wishes, the judge was hopelessly out of his depth, the whole process cost £40,000 - £50,000, I was once paying 40% tax yet since the divorce I have been totally dependant upon the state.

    BIG PROBLEMS with professional standards,a complete absence of a female judges and that is where the equality issues end

    GIVE IT UP F4J

    ReplyDelete
  7. Never give up fighting for the right for contact with your children. If F4J, Families Need Fathers or any other group can offer support then use their help. A 50/50 shared residency default in the event of divorce is something I would support wholeheartedly.

    Perhaps some may say it is less than perfect but it is far better than splitting children between two parents and £40,000 pounds sliding down the pan.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post. Constructive comments are always welcome, even if they do not coincide with my views! Please note, however, that comments will be removed or not published if I consider that:
* They are not relevant to the subject of this post; or
* They are (or are possibly) defamatory; or
* They breach court reporting rules; or
* They contain derogatory, abusive or threatening language; or
* They contain 'spam' advertisements (including links to any commercial websites).
Please also note that I am unable to give advice.