As one door closes another opens

You might have presumed I would have done my consultation response on shared parenting ages ago. But that starting point would have been the wrong starting point. Had you taken all the circumstances into account it was not safe to assume that I would do so, because although it was likely I would have had the fullest possible involvement with the consultation throughout its life (without of course specifying the amount of time I have spent on it), in fact I have not exercised my responsibility until the eleventh hour, although I have lived with the consultation throughout its minority, nurturing it and thinking about it all the time. I have sadly been unable to prioritise this particular baby over my other needs.

Ok enough. I’ve wanted wanted wanted to get to this shared parenting consultation response for an eon, along with my response to Stephen Twist’s post on a related topic, and along with my half drafted and rather dusty epic post on shared parenting in general. I have given all of this a massive amount of thought and have been reading, ruminating and generally worrying about it for some time but have just been too busy to actually get down to it.

And in the meantime the Government have published their proposed amendments to the Children Act 1989 (H/t Family Lore), so just as I tick one thing off my list I have something else to replace it with. Plus ca change. Thankfully, Suesspicious Minds has covered the public law aspects of the draft legislation here – there are no surprises in it really. I have touched on the private law aspect of it (child arrangements orders) in my consultation response. Since I am all private lawed out after the consultation response frenzy today I have little energy for a blog post on child arrangements orders, but I have attached my consultation response. I’ve tried to focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the comparative proposals but it was pretty tough to stay on the straight and narrow. I confess I had begun to warm to the idea of a presumption or some kind of legislative “we take dads seriously” flag, but the more I looked at the actual wording in Options 1 -4 the more difficulties resurfaced. I want it to be a silver bullet that makes things better but I don’t really think it will be. I tried to think of better wording but failed…I shall now probably be shot down in flames by people who say I’m defending the status quo with my gravy train politics, or who say I’m a feminazi. I’m really not. I just think the problem is a social not a legal one. I do think that one can impact on the other but I don’t think that statutory amendment in itself will fix a social problem. And statutory amendment in the absence of resource to back it up (court, legal advice / representation, CAFCASS, information or anything else) is just a recipe for more disillusionment and injustice.

The consultation is here by the way. It closes tomorrow.

My response is here.

 

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38 thoughts on “As one door closes another opens

  1. How can the fact that judges consistently “award” fathers little more than alternate weekends – 2 days in 14 – when they have the option to provide for much more meaningful “contact” be a “social problem” rather than a legal one?

  2. Double-standards.

    Its OK for legislation to be championed for gay marriage and domestic violence by Lucy and other lawyers (coincidentally producing lots more work for lawyers), she does not suggest leaving it to the gods to fix these social problems?

    However, legislation is not an option for her when it comes to the mass failure of the family courts regarding children and their fathers.

    Hand-wringing about how complicated it all is and kicking it into the long grass is the sum of it.

    The fact that litigation went down 30%+ in Australia after the introduction of Shared Parenting laws has nothing of course to do with her and the Law Society’s objections to shared parenting laws.

    Pull the other one…

  3. Wasn’t anti-social behaviour tackled by a change in law with the introduction of ASBO’s. Sometimes doing nothing is worse than doing something.

    “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”
    Beverly Sills
    US opera singer (1929 – )

    • I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t try. We do already have law, albeit law that isn’t operating perfectly. My point is that a mere change in the law (or a rewording of it) will not fix an attitudinal problem which is far more deep rooted. For example, many parents just don’t GET the benefit to children of maintaining contact, and struggle to see the harm they might be doing to their children. The law can be used to educate through expectation, but without a wider approach to changing social expectations and practice I think a presumption is unlikely to be much more effective than the existing law.

  4. I think Lucy’s response is a bit worse than ‘double standards’. It’s gender-stereotyping at its worst, and what in legal terms is called ‘lying by omission’.

    I’m referring, of course, to the typically unimaginative rhetoric of domestic violence with which she begins her consultation response.

    She not only makes the radically illogical assumption that domestic violence is perpetrated by men most of the time. (Anyone with a bit of life experience will know this to be blatantly false.) This is a ‘big lie’ that is just about as disgusting as the myth that Jews are mostly misers or that most women are manipulative whores. Yes, it’s that disgusting, and men in this country have had enough of this misrepresentation of their gender.

    She conveniently leaves out the politics of domestic violence in Britain. She leaves out the fact that men do not report this when it happens to them, that it is taboo and a source of shame for men, and that consequently there is virtually no real support for men, and no meaningful statistics on the subject. She conveniently leaves out the fact that there are very powerful organizations and support networks set up for women, not to help women, but to advance a political agenda. She conveniently leaves out the fact that it reflects poorly on men to make allegations in court, whereas women are virtually encouraged to make false allegations.

    This is all ‘lying by omission’. Sadly, it’s something that the less healthy feminists in our country have stooped to in recent years.

    I won’t comment on the emptiness of her endorsement for fair treatment of fathers here.

    • To However:
      I don’t think that domestic violence is a mainly male perpetrated crime. And neither did I say so. It is often perpetrated by women, although I think most of the statistics suggest the majority i.e. more than half is perpetrated by men. I accept that there is a difficulty in assessing that with any degree of accuracy because of underreporting. So I think that you are misrepresenting my position. There IS domestic violence and it IS raised as a barrier to contact – sometimes legitimately and sometimes tactically or maliciously. That happens in cases where women allege violence against men and the other way around, albeit in lesser numbers in my experience (which is in part a function of the fact that more women are primary carers and more men therefore seeking contact orders).
      It’s not lying by omission. It’s a different viewpoint from your own. Can I suggest that you read this blog to get a fair understanding of my views about domestic violence before mischaracterising them in such strongly worded terms?

  5. I think one of the difference between issues such as domestic abuse and marriage equality, and a presumption of shared parenting is the impact of wider social norms:

    It remains much more common for it to be mothers rather than fathers who are the primary carers for children, even when parents live together. it’s more common for mothers than fathers to take career breaks / work part time / take lower paid/more flexible jobs to facilitate childcare. It’s more socially acceptable and so easier for mothers than fatehrs to take parental leave and to be the one who takes time off work / works flexibly to accommodate school holidays.
    These are some of the practical, societal isses which make shared care (50/50 share) more than *just* a legal / legislative issue.

    where parents were sharing care equally when they were together (e.g. both working part time / working felixibly) then that is likely to continue following a separation.

    Where the reality before the separation was that Mum (usually) was providing the majoirty of the care and Dad (usually) was working longer hours, relying on Mum to cover the 3-6 slot each day and to arrange or provide chail care during the school holidays, that pattern is likely to continue after a separation, too. A sudden change at that point would usually mean dad (likely to be the higher earner) having to reduce his working hours, and therfore his income, which has major consequences for a family already struggling to support 2 households instead of one. It’s rarely possible for the other parent (normally mum) to be able to make yup the shortfall, as often the previous pattern of care has meant that she has taken a career break, and even if she can increase her hours this will often be at a lower rate of pay than Dad was earning for the hours he may have given up.

    Another option of course is to rely more on outside child care, and then you have an issue of children being looked after by a child minder or after school clubns, rather than being with a paretn, which is not necessarily in their best interests (and which again has costs implications)

    These are some of the things which add to it being a societal / culteral issue not merely a legal one.

    There are simply not the same kinds of barriers to the other changes, such as marriage equality and protection from domestic abuse.

    I have yet to see practical, workable proposals – I suspect that if fathers were taking a greater role in child care whiile they were still married/with their partners then some of those culteral issues would be resolved. More men seeking to work felxibly to allow them to participate in caring for their children, more men using their rights to parental leave etc would perhaps help to move things more towards an environment where care was shared more eqaully after separation as well.

  6. Your views about domestic violence are patriarchal, and have nothing to do with reality. They assume the male aggressor/female victim stereotype that has been used over and again to support outdated views about parenting, and set up a power imbalance among parents that is hurtful to children. Money going around in the divorce industry very much depends on one party being pawned into thinking they should have total control. This imbalance is defused when you introduce a shared parenting presumption. That is why you don’t like it. Let’s talk straight.

  7. @However:
    You are right that more women are primary carers of children whilst more men are financial providers and it is also true that more women stay at home and clean and cook whilst more men go out to work.

    But are we not agreed that in these so-called modern times that we (and the law) all at last share a presumption that this should not necessarily be so?

  8. Thank you for including your response to the consultation. I used it unashamedly as a template for my own submission.

    Much of the debate seems to revolve round whether the law should be changed or whether there is a problem with the process.

    Whilst it may be possible to argue that the law is already sufficiently specific, it is nevertheless quite obvious that considerable evidence of case outcomes shows a heavy bias.

    In a broader context, this is the case with many gender-based issues and a key question is how best to promote change without becoming too prescriptive.

    The reason that outcomes lag behind our good intentions, is that it can take generations to truly implement change in the minds of a majority. There are still golf clubs around who do not allow women members and the related debates still tend to shed more heat than light. But as the elders fade away, newcomers with more modern views replace them and indeed new applicants who may have the (erstwhile) “wrong” gender will have different and more contemporary attitudes too.

    On the other hand, in contact cases even where there is rough agreement on what constitutes appropriate target outcomes, the most glaring shortfall is in their implementation. For example it is currently possible for a hostile parent to completely ignore contact orders with impunity. Such delinquent behaviour must stop.

    I have a personal example which is worth noting for both debates. In my case, we might have greatly benefited from shared parenting. Before and for several years after the divorce, the kids were happy, there were no significant disagreements on parenting style, generous finances were agreed, and we had “only” a divorce to get over. Being 2002 we had had to settle for the then “standard” 2 days per week arrangement. But that is only part of the story. Despite no substantive issues arising there was implacable hostility and increasingly ignored contact orders from the outset. There is now no contact at all as my children’s mother has “not encouraged” contact, to put it very mildly indeed.

    If we were getting a divorce now, ten years later, I believe it would be likely that I might request and indeed expect to obtain a shared parenting order. That (if true) is progress, and we need more of it.

    But that is still only part of the story. I went round recently to drop off a birthday present for my son. There I met a gentleman who reliably informed me that the “family” had moved out the previous October, nearly a year ago. Needless to say I was shocked, hurt and concerned. Where were my children? I wrote to my former wife (with her monthly payment advice) advising her that under the existing circumstances she is obliged to let me have their (my children’s) address. Her response was that as I had not had contact for three years now, it was “not imperative” that I have their address.

    I spoke to two friends of mine to help me to decide what I should do. One is a County Court Judge and the other a family solicitor. Both of them advised me not to bother! There would be stress, emotion, costs, a great waste of time and the overloaded courts would take a long time to get a result which would do me little or no good. All very likely, I thought, being a reasonable man. But these are views of people who have given up on justice, whose expectations are stale from working with a defective system. That is why we need change – when even the priesthood of the law are losing faith.

    I did go on to wonder though. If I had been assaulted or even had I been a woman who having drunk too much at a party found that technically she had been “violated” by a friend (the r-word I originally used was zapped by your blog software), the courts would be taking huge steps to catch and convict the offender (I use this example not to criticise technical “r” but to underline the broadness in the apparent severity of the range of crimes of assault). Fair enough I say, these are serious crimes which can and do affect the entire emotional and physical lives of the victims, not to mention their civil rights. And the break the law.

    Assault and “violation” should be punished. But at the same time, the failure of other parts of our legal system often results in even more damage to children’s lives (and to their parents’ lives and to their children’s children’s lives) because somehow, this kind of abuse is not considered a crime. For my part I feel that given a choice between what has actually happened to my children and, instead, being assaulted myself, it’s a no-brainer. I choose the pain, but just give me back my children and give them back their dad.

    Incidentally, for a mother to state she will put up with the worst in order to support her children is considered fairly normal. Why not for men? Should men be automatically treated so differently from women? Is this not a blatant form of discrimination?

    I consider that systematically depriving children of a parent and vice-versa is a crime, and that when it goes unpunished it sets a terrible example for our children as well. It’s too late for my family – but there are countless others who badly need and deserve the protection of the law from vicious and implacably hostile parents. The only way such parents are going to change their attitude and approach to the law – which is currently contempt – is when they know for certain that there will be meaningful consequences for them should they ignore it.

    Another related point is that there should be proper punitive action taken when it turns out that allegations made against a parent are false, leading to contact delays and a waste of the court and everyone else’s time. Otherwise the process is a travesty.

    So shared parenting is not just a proxy debate and certainly is the future norm in an increasingly gender-neutral society where now two men can live in patrimony (sic) and adopt children while a single dad can be discriminated against on behalf of single mothers at the expense of the children. But in the meantime, the extraordinary and shameful anomalies in contact enforcement also need very urgent attention.

    Fortunately the recent consultation also covers this issue and I and many others look forward to a positive result.

    • JerryK132,
      Thanks for your long message. I agree with a lot of it. As far as the main argument is concerned I agree enforcement needs to be improved. The powers you talk about are all there – but they are difficult to use. However, courts could do better and be more ready to use them.
      I have to take issue with your comments on r**e though, even though they are intended to be an analogy rather than the main topic.
      When you suggest it is somehow a less severe kind of r**e where a woman was drunk isn’t that tantamount to an “asking for it” viewpoint? Being drunk, scantily clad etc may increase a woman’s risk to some degree but has no bearing at all on the gravity of the offence.
      Sorry for delay approving comment by the way. Been snowed under.
      Lucy

  9. The single biggest obstacle to the Family Justice process is that of false allegations made by the ‘primary carer’ about the other parent. It’s a very delicate matter as I agree that the safety and welfare of the child is of paramount importance and so, when one parent (usually mother) cries violence or worse, all involved must look to protect the child first. However, the other side of the coin (and it’s a really colossal ‘other side’) is that allegations of aggression, violence and even sexual abuse are the first things that are thrown into the mix to stifle a father’s application/effort to see his children. In my personal experience, and also in my experience of working with countless cases since my own, often what happens is, as the father ups his effort to gain a Contact or Residence Order, the mother introduces further (and often worse) allegations. By the time the fact finding process is complete, the relationship has been severely damaged between father and child/ren. Add some Parental Alienation into the mix and father is on the back-foot forever more. Mothers learn quickly how to play this game and they play it all too often. Why? Because the system allows them too. Nay, it encourages them to.

    If this single issue is not dealt with by legislation and/or the process, no progress will be made. None.

  10. The real disgrace is not so much the initial conduct of the courts dealing with parents disputes as the “aftermath”.Vindictive injuctions are granted forbidding the losing parent( whether mother or father) from all contact with their child or children until those children are 18 year of age. This happens to my personal knowledge to drug and alcohol free parents with no criminal records who have never been accused let alone charged with any criminal act against their children.
    Parents have been jailed for sending a birthday card,leaving an Xmas present on a doorstep,waving at children as they passed by in a car, and of course 3 years for Vicky Haig for talking to her daughter at a petrol station even though she had not seen her for a year !
    These judges belong to the Victorian age except that instead of hanging thieves they now pick on desperate defenceless non criminal parents who they dislike but who should always be allowed some form of supervised contact no matter what the circumstances .What about “Baby P” you cry??Well believe it or not his witch of a mother has been allowed contact with her surviving children whilst still serving time in jail !

    • Forced Adoption – hardly any wonder clients you are acquainted with are barred from contact – if they follow your adoption sabotage advice and other parts of your golden rules. What on earth do you expect local authorities to do faced with parents who are having that kind of poison dripped in their ears?
      Doesn’t the Baby P example you cite demonstrate that there are different answers depending on the circumstances and attitudes of parents. I don’t pretend to know anything about the current circumstances in relation to Baby Peter’s mother or his siblings, and I don’t suppose you know much more than I do but one imagines that if the Local Authority were determined to prevent contact it would have been highly arguable. That they have allowed contact (if what you say is accurate) suggests something other than the pure malicious motivation towards parents you suggest is endemic.

  11. Well, my own case has concluded and the Judge said that Shared Residence Orders are only appropriate when parents have a trusting relationship.

    [edited]
    Whilst I believe I succeeded in not making a fool of myself in Court (I was in person), for all the good my attendance did I feel I might as well have sent along a farm animal or a cardboard cutout instead.

    My ex has no leave to remain in the UK and can now take my daughter abroad without my permission.[edited]
    I least my unfortunate experience with Family Law is over for now!

  12. Hi. I left a rather long post (twice!) here but it doesn’t seem to have appeared. Did it go wrong, or did you not like it?
    Kind regards
    Jerry

  13. Familoo, ‘editing’ is not the word!

    The one point I was hoping to get across was that even though I previously shared 50% care prior to separation (and had evidence to prove the same) the involvement I had previously had in our child’s life was deemed totally irrelevant.

    Many posters on here and elsewhere are constantly banging on that women “are usually the primary carer,” “more often stay at home to look after kids” etc.

    In our relationship, this was manifestly NOT the case. We both worked full-time and we split the childcare down the middle in the hours when we weren’t working. However, when it came to court, this counted for zilch, nothing, nada.

    • Jimbo. Sorry. You had quoted what happened in court. In fact this comment is the right side of the line so I haven’t needed to edit it. :-)
      Lucy

  14. Karen Woodall is one smart cookie and a woman who is consistently committed to the truth. She works with separated families on a daily basis and, if I had my way, she would be the first to be consulted on the FJR.

    Unfortunately, there are too many powerful professionals in the system, who benefit from parents in battle. Until the economics of the situation change, the situation itself will not either. When it costs the state and the legal profession more that it pays them, only then will they look to do what is best for the child.

    The suggestion that the system attempts to protect the child is a farce and a joke. Lest you try to use the old chestnut that I’m just another ‘angry father’, yes I have personal experience but I now have a superb relationship with my child’s mother, and I also have much experience of others’ cases due to the work I do, and the system is broken. The culture among Social Services, CAFCASS, Lawyers and Judges is still in the middle ages and society follows this lead, unfortunately. In no other part of our society would one get away with some of the miscarriages of justice that routinely occur in the Family Court arena.

  15. Well there you have it familoo!Punish the parents not for abusing their children but for daring to “disrespect” the ss !Shades of yobbos in sink estates who react in the same way !
    Parents who have never physically harmed their children(or anyone else) should never be banned from contact (supervised if need be) with their own children.Jailing them for making contact is barbaric !End of story …..

  16. Thank you for your comments. You raise an interesting point as regards r**e. What then does determine the gravity of the offence? Very slightly tongue in cheek, let me pitch my example slightly differently then. If I found myself in a state of alcoholic merriment and then, under the influence, did not turn down s*x with another person (of an appropriate gender) and when I woke up sober and decided it had been a bad idea and that I regretted it and felt I had been led by my partner, it is still highly unlikely that I would bother to push for (nor succeed in) obtaining a prosecution (being a man) even though by your reckoning an offence would have been committed. So who decides? is r**e in the eye of the beholder? of the victim? the law? And are we not perhaps placing modern sexual mores on a gender-specific 1950s pedestal? The law seems to assume that only men can take it without “asking for it”! I’m not sure that is entirely true.

    Apologies if we are headed off topic, but I emphasised that I chose my original example only to illustrate the more benign end of the violence spectrum, but when you put alcohol and scantily clad (which I did not mention) together in the same context, we end up on another slippery slope (and not just because a drunken person of either gender may well literally ask for it!), I have to say the following:

    Being civilised and therefore accepting that we are expected to somehow ignore the ongoing attempts by the fashion industry and the media increasingly to push sexual messages in everyone’s face, fair enough, I can live with that I suppose. But if in your example two people are a little inebriated and improper behaviour occurs, why is it usually the man who gets into trouble with the law even though as one might infer (if no force was involved), the outcome would apparently not have taken place if the woman had not been intoxicated? If she had been driving a car in that state, she would be committing an offence precisely because she was drunk in charge of a vehicle! It seems in one case drunken-ness is considered a punishable form of irresponsible behaviour, but in the other case, the drinker if female, is a victim and only if male is he likely to be considered a criminal!

    Of course i would accept that this outcome might in some circumstances be reasonable, but either way I hope we can agree that we are caught at the crossroads of the gender revolution and whatever happens we must relentlessly cut through the multiplicity of dated and modern attitudes and stigmas of parts of the judicial system and we must resolutely and fairly cut through to the truth and to the intentions (malicious or otherwise) of all the participants in these cases for justice to be done and tbstbd. Ditto for contact enforcement…

    • Jerry,
      1 Having sex with someone who consented at the time but regretted it the next morning does not equal r*pe. Having s*x with someone too drunk to consent is r*pe. What’s difficult about that?
      2 You can’t run a “but for” argument with a criminal offence. “but for being drunk he wouldn’t have tried to have sex with her”? Turn it around – are you arguing opportunistic sex with a drunk woman is ok? What a man does with what is in his trousers is his responsibility and his alone. If he wants to penetrate someone with it he has to obtain consent. If he can’t find someone who can consent – tough.
      3 Your analogy with drink driving, if taken to its logical conclusion, would lead to the argument that we should criminalise a woman for being drunk in charge of a female body.
      4 The reason its usually the man who gets into trouble is because r*pe is an offence of penetration without consent. There are obvious biological reasons therefore why it is usually the man who is in hot water. If a man is too drunk to consent he is probably too drunk to have sex (although he can still be penetrated or subjected to a non-penetrative sexual assault).
      5 We might be rightly critical of a woman who behaves in a way that makes her more vulnerable than she needs to be (hence my scantily clad example), or that might lead to someone mistaking clothing for consent – but clothing or state of drunkenness are not some kind of semaphore that substitutes for consent. It is objectionable to have to tailor one’s appearance or behaviour to account for the suggestion that men cannot help themselves or can’t understand a simple concept like consent.

      I don’t really see much analogy between r*pe and contact enforcement.

  17. I like to refer to the line…
    divorce and separation bring change for all – for the parents and the children.
    Parenting style inevitably changes post separation and there are many other changes. Pre separation care patterns are no reason for there not to be shared care after separation.

  18. However, Er…I don’t think my views are patriarchal. Whatever else they may be.

    The reason I say your views are patriarchal is because they unashamedly exploit the patriarchal view that women are victims and men perpetrators. Certain camps have done this very well over the past few decades.

    It’s not altogether unlike the way in which racist views were and still are exploited to pin the blame on blacks. You might find it interesting to read To Kill A Mockingbird.

    There should be no place for race and gender discrimination in law, or in anything for that matter.

    • However,

      I think you mean misandrist not patriarchal. But lets not split hairs.

      I don’t subscribe to the view that women are victims and men perpetrators (sometimes they are, sometimes not).

      I don’t want to blame men. I have read To Kill A Mockingbird and don’t really see the parallel.

  19. Very interesting, by the way, that you should have left your consultation response till the very end.

  20. Thanks Lucy, but my point was that the aspect in common between r*pe and contact enforcement (or rather the lack of it), is the gender bias in the courts and other agencies which leads to men and women being treated differently and often unfairly. Worse still, this seems to be acceptable to many women who claim to be arguing for gender equality.

    Personally I think the penetration argument is a little out of date. Isn’t Assange accused of “leaning” on one of the women accusing him of assault? The Swedes seem to accept that s*x is a two-way street these days. The anachronistic view appears to arise out of the popular but outdated concept that men can’t help wanting s*x and women only put up with it. We hopefully agree that this is rubbish in these more egalitarian, liberated and open times (not to mention the consequences of contraception).

    In fact, in item 3, you have made my point for me: Men ARE criminalised for being drunk in charge of a male body – yet you imply it would be absurd for women to be treated in this way. Why should women be treated in a different manner?

    Many men will no longer give women hitch hikers a lift these days, for the simple reason that it is too easy (and tempting) for a woman to claim ra*e. This is analogous to the many bogus claims of domestic violence suddenly made after perfectly good parenting relationships have ended. If people can take advantage of the system, some will do so. The system should factor this in properly instead of (unwittingly) encouraging abuse as it seems to now.

    • Jerry,
      Unless there has been some recent evolutionary development in the male anatomy I don’t really see how the “penetration argument” has become out of date. I have neither suggested that men can’t help wanting s*x nor that women do not enjoy it. I rather thought that my previous comment indicated that I do not accept any argument (usually put forward by men) that men can’t help themselves – I was arguing for the taking of responsibility not the abnegation of it by some huntergatherer genetics argument.

      Men are NOT criminalised for being drunk in charge of a male body. They are criminalised for penetrating a female body where there has been an absence of consent, and the fact that they are drunk is not a defence.

      I have no doubt many men will not pick up hitch hikers. I would not pick up a hitch hiker. I would not hitch hike (last time I hitchhiked – with University Rag – we didn’t notice the lorry driver had a large cutlass strapped to his cab door until we were underway). People protect themselves. Against r*pe. Against false allegations of r*pe. This cannot drive the criminal law any more than the abuse of the system through bogus allegations of domestic violence can drive a system designed to protect children.

      Where is the statistical evidence that large numbers of r*pe allegations are false? Where is the statistical evidence that large numbers of domestic violence allegations are false? Both often asserted but not often backed with evidence as far as I can tell. I’m sure there are false allegations in both categories, but lets deal with facts not popular belief.

  21. The kind of violence that is so often forced on dads after separation is no less disgusting than r-pe.

    Child abduction of the legal kind that lawyers seem to be okay with is a violation for life that affects one’s very emotional core, and turns one into an empty shell of a human being.

    Any kind of violence is disgusting, without doubt, but we still live in a culture that excuses the multiple forms of violence that women do to men and their children.

    How we sunk to this sexism and barbarism is just beyond me, but Karen Woodall seems to be on the ball here in her latest blog post.

  22. Speaking as a sixty year old abandoned by my father at 13.

    I’m not sure meeting up with father once a week would have been of any help to me or my sister. though we we did maintain good relations with my father’s siblings, which would have helped matters.

    No mention has been made of any step parents. It must be difficult anough as it is to bring up other people’s children without the absent parent interfering all the time.

    Anyway widows with children seem to manage without the other parent being around.

  23. Brian, with respect, I’m not sure what your personal experience with your step-father has to do with family law in general. It’s never that wise to project one’s own experiences onto others and other situations. You seem to be suggesting that you are perfectly okay with a scenario where the child is forced by one parent into not seeing mom or dad. That’s a bit disgusting.

    Also, I’d be a bit careful about assuming that you dad abandoned you. I’ve been around this block a few times, and I know for a fact that this is the big lie that is commonly told to children. It makes for a generation of damaged children that grow up thinking that dads are dispensable.

    Don’t you think that’s a little bit sexist? You wouldn’t say that mothers are dispensable, I hope.

  24. I really wasn’t making any claims as to your views. Could we just agree that there is a profound and excessive asymmetry between the way men and women END UP being serviced by the family courts, even if the system is intended to do otherwise.

    The fact that unjust outcomes of a particular slant are very common means the system is not working properly.

    Many decisions of judges/social services/police reflect a prejudice against fathers or towards mothers – simply by not affording men the same protection a woman can obtain for example, simply by making allegations. If a man alleges DV by a woman, he is likely to be arrested or at least removed from the home, even though the violence may well have been perpetrated against him. The belief seems to be that removing a man from an altercation is automatically more expedient than removing the woman. It is not expedient, it is simply inappropriate.

    In my estimation, a court which enforces orders to be obeyed by fathers and fails to enforce orders which need to be obeyed by mothers is simply corrupt. Just because no money changes hands does not mean they are not perverting the course of justice by complying with their own personal beliefs instead of ensuring a just outcome. That is the elephant in the room! And worse, many mothers know it and take advantage.

    Which brings us back to the original subject – the consultation. Let’s hope progress can be made.

    • Jerry,
      Agree with your first 2 pas. Agree that things often go wrong with police response – I think that is a separate issue from what we were talking about, but of course impacts upon it.
      Disagree with your penultimate para.

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