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Fathers 4 Justice - An outsider''s perspective

  • mumtoboys
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04 Nov 12 #364599 by mumtoboys
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Ruby - the Norway and Australia examples are interesting. What I would like to know is how that works from a financial perspective, particularly where there earnings are very uneven between parents. What input does the State have financially and how does it work where there are genuine financial disparities between parental income which potentially prevent shared care?

At the time of ''fighting'' for residence of my children I did so because I believed the shared care situation in place wasn''t in their best interests. This was largely due to my ex''s reluctance to engage as a ''full-time'' parent in terms of taking responsibility for taking children to activities or parties or having friends over for tea, that kind of thing, but also his partner of the time was less than decent towards our children and there were in an environment where they were being hit (eldest talks of being slapped across the face regularly) and were subjected to hearing god only knows what about me.

However, had I not ''won'' that case, I struggle to see how I could have survived financially, in the South East, even if I had received full tax credits and child benefit and assuming someone, somewhere, could have ''forced'' my ex to pay for childcare on ''his'' time and a reasonable perecentage of costs such as clubs, school uniform, school meals etc. The figures just don''t add up for me. That''s not my fault - it''s simply the career choices I made and the associated levels of pay that went with that. Not a problem as part of a couple, but most definately an issue as a single person and more of an issue as a single person with children to pay for.

How are issues such as this overcome in Australia and Norway?

  • u6c00
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04 Nov 12 #364605 by u6c00
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Elphie wrote:

But how would this be proved? I, personally, dont know of any HAPPY family''s where the mother leaves the children with the dad to go on a holiday, let aloneunhappy ones, where the mother might well be thinking of the consequences after seperation.....Maybe the dad is left with the children occasionally for a night out, once every few months, and maybe she''ll leave the kids with him for an hour while she does the shopping. But, as a father, how do you prove that in court months after the fact?
In my case, I never left my baby alone with dad while we were together, after finding stbx uncontrollably anger at our baby one day. If I went out shopping I took him with me, never went for an evening out anyway so that wasn''t an issue. But I didn''t tell anyone about it at the time. Partly because I was ashamed and partly because I was still trying to fix our relationship and didn''t want close friends and family to think badly of him. So, as a mother, how do I prove I didn''t trust him alone with the baby while we were together? It still boils done to one word against another.

I confess my own bias on this one, and concede that I may be completely wrong about it. In my case the allegations were spurious but I appreciate in other situations, such as your own they may be very well founded.

Here''s the background to my situation and you can decide what you think:

I had depression, and was taking AD''s for a few months, I also saw a psychiatrist. Things stabilised quite quickly and the relationship continued. About 3 months after I was diagnosed my ex went to visit her family and friends elsewhere in the country for 14 days, leaving me solely responsible for taking care of my son (my step son was with his biological father in this time). 6 months later she takes the kids, claims that my depression (for which I was not being treated by this time) made me an unfit parent and I should only have supervised contact.

I provided text messages, receipts from places I had taken the children alone, witness statements etc, all proving that my ex had felt perfectly comfortable leaving the children with me for days or weeks at a time. Nevertheless, supervised contact was ordered on the basis of the allegations made. No one would look at the evidence I provided for 6 months until CAFCASS did their Section 7 report.

I am not complaining at all about the supervised contact; as a matter of fact my ex''s mudslinging has helped me enormously and her fundamentally unreasonable stance is coming back to bite her now. What I am complaining about is that the burden of proof was reversed in my case; it was down to me to prove that I was not a danger to the children, rather than for my ex to prove that I was.

If, at the first hearing I had been allowed to file a statement with exhibits of evidence then the situation could have been dealt with much much quicker.

I know of a number of fathers on here who have lost contact, or had contact with their children minimised on the basis of allegations - drug use, mental health, violence. I do not personally know of any mothers who have experienced the same thing but I am sure there are many.

It seems to be an obvious tactic in proceedings that parents could follow as a ''playbook'':

1. unilaterally take children elsewhere.
2. make allegations.
3. spend the 6 months it takes to resolve those allegations establishing a new status quo.
4. ''graciously'' take a small step forward by offering a derisory level of contact.
5. For the really evil ones, repeat from step 2 onwards.

Perhaps the courts could combat this by holding fact finding hearings much much quicker? Perhaps they could use some discretion on whether the allegations make that person a danger to the children? One suggestions that was made to me is costs orders for required evidence if allegations are unfounded. For example where one party alleges drug or alcohol abuse, if subsequent scientific testing finds no such evidence then the accuser must pay the costs of the tests. Where the allegation is proven then the accused must pay.

At the very least that might dissuade parents from making allegations unless they are confident they are true?

  • u6c00
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04 Nov 12 #364606 by u6c00
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Thanks very much to Forseti and Ruby for your extremely insightful replies.

I shall look out for the results of the consultation tomorrow, though not with a great deal of optimism it must be said! I''ll be interested to see the F4J response also.

Thanks also to mumtoboys for your questions which were interesting to me to read. I recently had a conversation with someone in the context of the proposed Child Benefit changes (only paying CB for 2 children). His opinion, which I listened to with distaste, was ''don''t have children if you can''t afford to pay for them.'' Your questions reminded me of his opinion and lack of empathy for the various circumstances that might lead to someone to be unable to cope financially.

Hopefully no one minds if this thread ranges around a little in topic :)

  • Justaparent
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04 Nov 12 #364609 by Justaparent
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I''m a member of two popular parenting forums.

On these forums F4J are derided as idiots and dangerous. I think the media have done a great job on putting this portrayal across.

Also if a woman leaves the man and takes the children, their must be a reason.
If a man took the children, call the Police.

I do believe that the majority of Mothers I''ve met and witnessed on the parenting forums see the children as more theirs than the Fathers. And I still think UK society sees it the same.

And I still believe if you want to be equal after separation, you must be equal before.
So share the care from Day 1, don''t become the major earner by a long way, don''t have children with someone who wants to give up their job/career, do the night feeds, change the nappies, drop off at school, take the days off when they are sick, do the dentist appointments etc.

I think it''s naive for someone who spends 10% of their time caring for their children, to then expect 50% after separation.

  • Elphie
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04 Nov 12 #364610 by Elphie
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I do think the burden of proof should fall on the accused to prove their innocence, rather than the accuser to prove the guilt. It is much easier to prove innocence than guilt, and yes, I realise this goes completely against the grain in our uk justice system where in all other ases you are innocent until proven guilty. However, if a mistake is made the opposite way (ie, the accuser can''t prove the guilt, so the person is given then benefit of the doubt) then it could in the worst case cause a child,s death. In your case, you had the evidence to prove you were innocent, in my case may stbx could partake in and complete an anger management course, in a drugs case they can prove innocence by undergoing testing (but if guilty, refuse the testing which makes it impossible for the accuser to prove)

I think the real problem in your case, wasn''t that you had to prove you were able to look after the children, but that you weren''t given the opportunity to prove it. You had the evidence, but no one listened.

I like your idea of taking solisitors away from the parents and just having statements (and evidence) with a judge. A judge who has the time to listen, consider all the evidence bought on the day, and make a decision there and then, quickly at the beginning of a separation. Before solisitors have had a chance to wind things up, before friends and family have stuck their well meaning oar in.
I also agree that with allegations should come cost implications where the accused is found innocent.

  • MrsMathsisfun
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04 Nov 12 #364611 by MrsMathsisfun
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High profile cases of child abuse have made everyone wary of making a mistake and so any allegations are taken seriously just in case.

However I really believe that those parents found to making false allegations need be dealt with.

U6c00 suggestion that fact finding takes place immediately seen a good idea.

We definitely need stronger emphasis on shared care being the norm (nothing to do with time with each parent). First step getting away from any notation of ''''Primary carer, dont think just insisting on the terms RP and NRP help either because it still reinforces the idea that the children live with one parent not the other.

  • Forseti
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04 Nov 12 #364614 by Forseti
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It has certainly become a wide ranging thread, u6c00. ;)

Ruby Tuesday''s post shows that what the government will propose tomorrow (and we all know what it will be) will have little effect compared with the Australian reform if it is not accompanied by other reforms such as the requirement for parents to participate in alternative dispute resolution or the LAT procedure.

The Australian reforms led to a drop in court applications of about a third and this has been hailed - in the Sellar and Yeatman sense - as a good thing. That isn''t necessarily the case, however. Next year the removal of legal aid from most cases in the UK may also lead to a large drop in applications, but this will not be hailed as a good thing at all, since it will mean many parents denied access to justice.

But if we lag some way behind Australia we are very, very far behind Norway. Just how we achieve such a huge cultural shift when we are currently fast headed in the opposite direction is our greatest social challenge.

What heartens me is that the most notable proponents of this shift are all women, like Ruby Tuesday, Karen Woodall and Erin Pizzey. Ironically it is the fathers'' groups, which imagine themselves to be radical and controversial, that are in danger of being left behind by clinging to their demand for a presumption of shared parenting.

Equally ironically, although tomorrow the fathers'' groups will condemn the government''s proposals, it is these proposals which are actually closest to what these groups are demanding.

Perhaps it will only be when the government''s reforms have been shown to have failed - some years from now - that society will begin the slow transformation which more forward-thinking commentators believe necessary.

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