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Family Justice Review Final Report

  • mumtoboys
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06 Nov 11 #296429 by mumtoboys
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Tom,
I get what you're saying so please don't think I'm being difficult for the sake of it! What I struggle to understand is what it means in practise for a welfare state and, ultimately, for children.

If you take our situation, living in the South East and the maximum full time wage I could expect to earn in the sector I was working in, even with a substantial settlement, I could not have hoped to purchase a property big enough to house the children and I. Even if I had been able to purchase a house, I'd have struggled to run it with reduced access to tax credits etc. as half would have gone to the ex if we'd shared residence 50/50 (which is what he wanted). None of that is my fault - it's simply about my career choices and the high cost of living in the South East. As part of a couple, my lower earning capacity wasn't a problem but as a lone parent, it is. My ex was OK(ish) - he'd moved on, he earned more than me and he was living with another person so his living costs were reduced. A judge, then, would be awarding me full care of the children on a purely financial basis because it would be the only way I could survive. Or, the same judge could make a decision that the children would be better off with my ex and his new partner because they could 'afford' them and I would have lost care of very young children (including a baby at that point) and knowing my ex, would have struggled to see them in the way that many NRPs struggle to see their children now.

I struggle to see any other outcome other than you give us both full access to benefits/tax credits and we could then have financially managed a 50/50 split of care. This would, I agree, probably have been in the children's best interests. But we were, I think, fairly average in terms of salaries earned, housing and life expectation so if you had to pay out extra for us to live separately, you are also going to have to do it for hundreds of other couples.

And of course, all of this assumes that I could have found a job immediately upon separation that paid out at the top of what I think I am capable of earning. We're in the middle of a recession - how likely is that?! If you recognise that I only worked part-time at the point we were dealing with the financial side of things, then a judge would have had no choice but to award me full care of the children to keep my head above water or again, make a decision that the children would be best off with dad purely on financial grounds.

Whether we like it or not, lone parents are largely dependent on tax credits, other benefits and maintenance payments to survive. If you split this between the 'average joe' couple earning average wages with average housing and life expectation, I struggle to see how a welfare state can support a 50/50 living arrangement because for the average couple, it would have to pay out twice. The system as it stands supports the children, and it supports them only once.

Of course, I understand what you're saying about an equal starting point. I guess what I'm looking at is if we put in that equal starting point, what happens? how many parents are going to struggle even more than they already do in working out how to care for their children post-separation simply because there is a 'right' to be heard on a 50/50 basis? how many more cases end up in court than they already do or will it reduce them? would it really mean that children get to spend more time with the NRP than they do now or will it simply serve to drive an even larger wedge through more families 'cos there are those that will hear '50/50 is possible' and drag it through court to the bitter end as a result?

Weighing it all up, I think I probably agree that the 50/50 presumption is the correct way to go. I just think there's a huge amount of work in other areas of public and social policy that need to be looked at to make it anything other than 'lip service'. Perhaps that's my point?!

  • MrsMathsisfun
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06 Nov 11 #296431 by MrsMathsisfun
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I think all that NRP are asking for is the right in law to be heard and considered equal.

At present the system is definately weighted in the PWC favour. I really think a system in which child maintenance wasnt linked to amount of contact would help.

If contact is in dispute then the amount of CM, being reduced to a position that it is assumed 50/50 contact is in place until its resolved might just focus a few minds. (The whole 100% payment could still be collected but held in an account until dispute resolved).

The present system allows an PWC to withhold contact and still get someone to chase NRP for 100% of child maintenance whilst they are unable see thier children. In what world is that acceptable?

  • hawaythelads
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06 Nov 11 #296432 by hawaythelads
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Women look after the kids blokes pay.
Status quo remains.
Where's the shocker in that.
You change anything there'll be a whole new set of unfair scenarios that crop up so politically it's easier to do nothing,because through history it's always been women raise the kids and blokes earn to provide the money.
Ok granted nowadays it's even worse because all us peasants have such high lifestyle expectations that both parents have to work.
They don't want one married couple claiming no benefits becoming two divorced individuals claiming benefits to provide a house each for kids.It's unfair on the married people who btw never get every other weekend/week off from the stresses and expense of having to pay for kids,and have to live in one house.
Why do divorced parents in general expect such preferential treatment and for the state to pick up the tab for their kids anyway?
The amount of people who bag a very good divorce settlement and then the state top up the income to £1500 a month take home if you have 2 kids.Even when they have a house with a substantial amount of equity in it.Married people don't get that assistance from the state.
Divorced people with kids get a load of free money that wouldn't be available to married couples.
So no they ain't gonna ever make 50/50 the law because as with everything in life it all comes down to the money.

  • dukey
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06 Nov 11 #296434 by dukey
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It is about money, Norgrove who headed the report is an accountant with a background in pensions, he is a guy that historically is used by the powers that be to save money.

The report suggest applications should be dealt with in six months where as right now they can easily take a year or more, so with no new money how can the application be dealt with quicker?, courts are at breaking point right now, pulling legal aid will make a bad situation so much worse.

Judges report the number of people acting in person is growing all the time, right now it is not as bad as it could be because much of the work falls to the side with a solicitor, so next year there will be a huge increase with both parties acting alone, which for a judge is a nightmare.

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06 Nov 11 #296438 by stepper
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Maybe because of David Norgrove's backgkround he was commissioned to come up with a report that fitted the finances. It sounds like money was his top priority.

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06 Nov 11 #296441 by dukey
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Call me a pessimist but i have no doubt Mr Norgrove was carefully selected with the outcome of the report being tailored to a pre determined outcome, that being keep it as it is and no more money.

I can`t remember the number of consultations but it was some thing like 800 and i thus far have seen nothing to suggest any wanted the outcome we now have.

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06 Nov 11 #296496 by MissTish1
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dukey wrote:

It is about money, Norgrove who headed the report is an accountant with a background in pensions, he is a guy that historically is used by the powers that be to save money.

The report suggest applications should be dealt with in six months where as right now they can easily take a year or more, so with no new money how can the application be dealt with quicker?, courts are at breaking point right now, pulling legal aid will make a bad situation so much worse.

Judges report the number of people acting in person is growing all the time, right now it is not as bad as it could be because much of the work falls to the side with a solicitor, so next year there will be a huge increase with both parties acting alone, which for a judge is a nightmare.


Why would people acting alone be a judges nightmare?

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