Are the family courts biased?

Family Law|May 19th 2015

I was mildly amused by two contrasting news stories that appeared in the national press over the weekend. One told us that a men-only divorce law firm was to open in London for fathers feeling let down by the family courts. The other story informed us that a group of women who feel that the divorce courts have left them short-changed have joined forces to help other in their position.

I don’t want to comment upon the specifics of the two stories, but they do raise the obvious question: are the family courts biased against men or women?

Now, one might say that the mere fact that both men and women feel that the courts are biased against them suggests that they are biased against neither, but I thought I would at least give some credence to each side by looking a little deeper.

The job of the family courts is of course to apply the law and the starting point must therefore be the law, as laid down by Parliament: is this biased? The answer is a simple and resounding “no”. There is nothing in our family law that discriminates against either men or women.

Looking closer, our divorce law does not discriminate between husband and wife: either party may commence the proceedings, and either party may be the respondent. The ground for divorce (irretrievable breakdown) says nothing about husband or wife, and nor do any of the five ways of proving irretrievable breakdown. As to disputes over arrangements for children, the law says nothing to favour mother or father – the welfare of the child is the court’s paramount concern. Similarly, the law relating to financial remedies following divorce does not favour either husband or wife.

Of course, the law must be interpreted by the courts. However, so far as this is concerned, the courts surely come out well. Whereas at one time, following the norms of society, there may have been some bias, for example in favour of mothers in children disputes and against wives in financial disputes, in recent times the courts have moved on. Now, for example, the courts are quite clear that in financial remedy cases the contribution of the homemaker, usually the wife, is equal to the contribution of the breadwinner, most often the husband.

And that is the point: the law reflects society. If there are biases in the law, that is because there are biases within society. In other words, it is not because the law is biased, it is because society is biased.

Happily, we now live in a much more equal society than previously, and therefore the law is much more equal than it once was.

Having said above that I will not comment upon the specifics of the two news stories, I will say a couple of things about the claim by the wives that the courts are allowing husbands to get away with not disclosing assets. Firstly, it is extremely difficult to get to the bottom of complex financial cases, especially when the time available to the courts is probably more limited than ever. Secondly, what about the cases (and there are some) where the wife is the one with most of the capital assets? Any complaint about non-disclosure must surely apply equally to them.

The argument about whether the family courts are biased against men or women will no doubt run and run, with neither side being able to show that they are right. What both sides do show, however, is that whatever a family court judge decides, the judge can’t win.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. Guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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Comments(48)

  1. Rachel says:

    There can be no doubt at all that the courts are biased against men. Women often receive more lenient sentences in criminal law and in civil law, the case law is littered with cases in which the ‘poor, helpless wife’ was at the mercy of the ‘bad husband’.

    The family courts treat men and women with inequality. The courts almost unilaterally favour women in child custody and contact cases, even denying access to fathers on the grounds that ‘it would upset the Mother’. The courts do not take a hard line on women who deny fathers access or who actively poison children against their father. Many lawyers advise their clients that a court will prioritise that children will remain with the mother at all costs, provided their is no physical abuse. This is the unwritten law.

    In financial cases, inequality is overwhelming. Men are always made to provide and women are free to take. The courts place so little responsibility on women to use their spousal maintenance to lessen dependence over time. The only time the Courts see sense is when the woman is the main bread winner (as reported earlier this year) or when the woman has the fortune. It took the fortune of Karen Radmacher for the courts to decide that pre-nips might be fair after all!

    • Katherine says:

      I agree family courts are very biased against men and don’t take hard line on mothers denying access to their children. In a case close to my heart the mother broke 4 court orders and the judges never once reprimanded her and all she has done wrong she has got away with total disgrace in my opinion!

    • m . thompson says:

      I read this piece and found my self asking does this person live in the real world, Ostensibly the question about legal doctrine and the practice of law lies in affordability, In today’s society legal aid only pays for the court fee’s and not legal representation. This puts those that can’t afford representation at the mercy of the courts, as self Representatives we do not know the law which leaves us open to exploitation.In most cases Women are at an advantage because traditional law plays a great part in cases involving children: the general concept is “if a child between 0-6 can’t speak for themselves the court does it for them ” what in the best interest of the child” the tradition is that the child will remain/reside with the mother( any solicitor will tell you that in as much as a man does not stand any chance of residency)
      The other factors raised in child custody/residency cases involve Cafcass or social services and if you them involved then your doomed! because they are bias and prejudice in as much as they make up there own rules. The hard part is getting courts to exercise equal rights because believe it or not discrimination based up on gender is being advocated by the courts all the time! and article 6 ECOHR the right to fair and equal justice which is recognized in UK law doesn’t make a blind bit of difference because the courts ignore it! Family courts have been moved to Magistrates courts and have the same powers as a county court however this has been done for a particular reason, A magistrates court practices law in the interest to be seen to be doing justice “which by definition is a kangaroo court” meaning no man will ever succeed in residency battles! and the practicing of which is outlawed by the UN and ECOHR and democracy it self!
      As men we take it as our god given right to be seen as equals however women battled for there equal rights! giving them legal p residence.Gay people battled for equal rights giving them legal p residence! recognized by the courts, heaven forbid that the courts would contravene those rights!So as men we do not have a voice despite the conjecture in the press ect.
      One thing is for sure baby P scenarios are on the increase as a result of traditional justice, evidence in child cases is actively suppressed which isn’t in the interest of the child! and there is nothing you can do as man to change the concept of a woman can do a better job than a man, even if your like me, I am a single father of 2 and have been for the past 8 years and I have found to my dismay in the case of my 1yr old that the world and justice system can’t be beaten, believe me I’m trying and I have evidence that proves Social services lie! that my child has and is at risk and even up on learning the truth about her mothers actions they persecute you as a result! so is the social justice system a cancer that need cutting away YES! are changes needed to prevent prejudice against men? YES!
      As parents we are capable of anything, but it’s our sense of morality that dictates our actions (equally)then and only when the courts realize this then the courts will be truly impartial.

    • The Devil's Advocate says:

      Bleat…bleat bleat…the moon is made of cheese and SS never lie..get real. This bleating will go on for ever. ..Get on to Jeremy Kyle and all of you reading this with similar stories. If enough of you do this he will bring down the system.
      Only one thing is going to stop this debacle is legislation. Parity or equality of the comprehensive right to fully engage in parental responsibility with your child or children. Nothing else you bleat about will make ANY DIFFERENCE.
      Get the Mum’s of Middle England on side with actions of J. Kyle and 324 MPs and Bob’s Your Uncle. All these comments will be history then.

    • Derek Pang says:

      TRUE. AND FALSE ACCUSATIONS IS A NEW WEAPON IN FAMILY COURTS.
      WHEN WILL THE JUDICIARY AND THE COURTS PROTOCOLS TO BE REFORMED AND MONITORED. WE NEED A FAIR SYSTEM NOT A BIAS SYSTEM

  2. Wistilia says:

    For those of us who have worked in the family courts for many years and who keep an open mind, it is obvious that there is a general bias against fathers.

    However, you don’t have to believe me, how about these top Judges and lawyers for starters:

    guardian.co.uk/society/2004/apr/02/childrensservices.uknews

    Lord Justice Munby – 2004

    Judge backs angry fathers over contact with children – Call for sweeping changes to family justice system after ‘shameful’ court failures
    A high court judge yesterday launched an extraordinary attack on the family justice system for failing separated fathers and their children.

    Mr Justice Munby, a respected judge of the Family Division, said he was going public with a judgment following a private hearing, while keeping the parties anonymous, because judges needed to “face up honestly” to the failings of the system so as not to forfeit public confidence.

    He called for sweeping changes to the system after a father had to abandon his five-year battle for contact with his seven-year-old daughter following 43 court hearings in front of 16 judges. The “wholly deserving father”, who last saw his daughter in December 2001, had left court “in tears, having been driven to abandon his battle for contact”.

    The delays in the case were scandalous, added the judge, who said he felt desperately sorry for the father, whose case was “far from unique”.

    business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article3850658.ece

    Lord Justice Ward – 2008

    Vengeful mothers leave good fathers powerless to see child, says judge

    A senior judge spoke out against child access law yesterday, saying that the courts were powerless to help decent fathers to see their children if vengeful mothers stood in the way.

    “The father complains bitterly, passionately and with every justification that the law is sterile, impotent and utterly useless – we have to acknowledge there is a degree of force in what he says,” the judge told the Court of Appeal Civil Division.

    “But the question is what can this court do? The answer is nothing. This is a truly distressing case. It may not be untypical of many, but in some ways it borders on the scandalous. It certainly is tragic.”

    telegraph.co.uk/relationships/divorce/6575997/Third-of-family-break-up-children-lose-contact-with-fathers-in-failing-court-system-poll.html

    Lawyers said the study showed that the court system itself was making family break-up more acrimonious with children used as “pawns”….
    Opposition politicians said the poll presented an alarming picture of a system “in a mess” which was all too often leaving fathers “shut out”.

    The poll of 4,000 parents and children was carried out to provide a snapshot of the workings of the family court system exactly 20 years after the implementation of the landmark 1989 Children Act…..

    A quarter of the children said that they had been asked to lie to one parent by the other and 15 per cent said they had even been called on to “spy” for their mother or father.

    Meanwhile half of parents polled admitted deliberately drawing out the legal process for maximum benefit and more than two thirds conceded that they had used their children as “bargaining tools”….

    “The adversarial nature of the system invites people to come and use the courts system as a punch up and the children get used as pawns,” said Sandra Davis, head of family law at Mishcon de Reya, for whom the poll was conducted.

    “It polarises parents and it puts children in the middle of the antagonism.

    “Some fathers back off because it is too painful to carry on litigating, they give up.”
    Tim Loughton, the Tory Shadow children’s minister, said: “This is alarming evidence of the very detrimental impact it is having on the welfare of the children themselves.”

    “Clearly, the court system is failing and is positively encouraging conflict – and continuing conflict.”

    Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader and founder of the Centre for Social Justice, warned that young people were bearing the scars of a divorce “boom” and a resulting lack of father figures.
    “It is a mess, it needs a complete overhaul,” he said. “It is an organisation locked in secrecy and deeply unhelpful to the parents and the children and all too often able to exacerbate the problems that they are about to face.”

    David Laws, the Liberal Democrat children’s spokesman, added: “In too many cases the children become caught up in the crossfire between two warring parties in a system which sometimes encourages the parents to take entrenched positions.”

    • Dr. Nigel Miles says:

      Ditto the the last respondent.

      As a practising Samaritan l have provided a listening response to.both men and women in these situations In the latter case they are by far in the minority of parents treated with derision by those who provide so callled evidence for Courts in family matters. Yes it seems that in one client’s particular case and as part of the 10% of all such cases being a mother who is dsfavoured by CAFCASS and LA, Children’s Services. One client was even in the midst of questionig by the Police and the CPS for criminal abuse based only on conjecture provided by the child’s father and the child nodding to the CPS when interviwed by a CPO. Although trained to a certain level of interview with minors child psychiatrist they are not, nor General Practitioners with medical professionalism in child psychology. It is not for them to make assessment, nor CAFCASS or other LA public servants. As such their evidence is not relevant upon which Courts can make evaluation and judgement.
      This is often the mistake Courts make without any professional empirical evidence. This is what is both illogical, irrational, totally indicriminatory against the parent who is supposedly a respondent in malicious abuse allegations based on a “witchcraft” irrationality of the 17th Century.

      Excuse me this is the 21st Century and without such evidence as according to the Chief Justices of the Famity Division of 21/04/2015 how can parents activate engagement of parental.responsibility. Yes parents have to act as such but when one actively promotes for the other through false allegations not to allow the Court to allow such responsible engagemen, in which universe are we living and now we understand the actions of petition by the Pilgrim Fathers for responsible parity of parenting in law in England and Wales.

      So to stop children being abused and one client of mine told me that such children number 3.8 million or 1/3 of all minors in the UK, there is only one outcome. Change the law as is recommended…only politicians can do this. Judges interpret them…but citizens can take such actions. CAP has failed children and families. Only the support for the actions of the a Pilgrim Fathers will stop this current child abuse which is not in their best interest of our abused children.

  3. Bolchedik says:

    The author of the above article says he doesn’t want to comment on the specifics of the two stories. Of course he doesn’t, because that would show up how foolish is his point. The two stories are about very different things. One story is purely about the obscenity of greed, and specifically women complaining that they weren’t awarded 40 million as opposed to 20 million. The other is about children, and about the way the courts abuse them by denying them a relationship with their fathers – something that will probably only increase with this country’s fascist rejection of Europe and human rights. As usual, the author appears to be struggling to say nothing, or just to obfuscate the issues with yet more smokescreens.

  4. Luke says:

    ===============================================
    “As to disputes over arrangements for children, the law says nothing to favour mother or father – the welfare of the child is the court’s paramount concern. Similarly, the law relating to financial remedies following divorce does not favour either husband or wife.”
    ===============================================
    .
    This is so misleading it is jaw dropping – we know (because it has been stated by the owner of this blog amongst others) – that where residency exists to one parent it is in favour of the mother over 95% of the time – so regardless of what the law actually says it is how the law is applied that matters.
    .
    Once residency is applied the court decisions pile in against the father on the financial side.
    .
    =============================================
    Of course, the law must be interpreted by the courts. However, so far as this is concerned, the courts surely come out well.
    =============================================
    .
    Yeah, you should try being a stand-up comedian John…

  5. Vincent McGovern says:

    I can only assume the article was written in jest as it is embarrassingly detached from reality in the majority of cases. Wistilia has written excellently on systemic failings as recorded by the most senior professionals in the family courts above. I add a few observations.

    Access to family courts available to mum but not dad! DV agencies which in constitution and practice discriminate on grounds of gender. MARAC process follows from the DV agencies which enable mum only to obtain ex parte non mol injunction etc. Cafcass Domestic Violence Intervention Project which is for male abusers? only. Cafcass DVIP does not accept women because I quote * mothers only resort to violence when abusive controlling men have driven them to it, therefore the course can only be for male abusers”. DHSS stats show 70.2% of child fatalities are when the child is in the mums care, 29.8% when in the dads care. Office of National Statistics British Crime Survey published February 2012 states that male female violence is approx 60/40 as it has been for years.

    Family law and it’s myriad apologists have a Pontius Pilate approach which is depressingly successful, the WRITTEN law is gender neutral, the law in practice is systemically BIASED against fathers. Undoubtedly there are mothers who get a raw deal, 5% in custody contests. A dad who is the primary carer is blocked from access in the UK to most childrens and DV services because of gender. Makes a mockery of the Paramount Principle. As does the above article which I assume was in jest or agent provacateur to elicit response.

    Vincent McGovern.

  6. Nordic says:

    John,
    As I haved noted previously, the award of residency to mothers in over 95% of cases is totally out of line with court practices in places such as the Nordics (e.g. 55%/45% in Denmark according to official surveys of actual judgements). Given that you don’t think the English courts are biased, I can only conclude that you regard english fathers as much poorer parents than their Nordic counterparts. Otherwise, how explain such stark inconsistencies in judicial treatment of fathers between different jurisdictions?
    .
    I also assume you see no bias in the way child benefits are awarded and hence how residence for the purpose of child maintenance under CMS is determined. Only one parent can claim child benefit for a child and, according to HMRC’s rules, that parent is the mother if the parties are married or cohabitants. Hence, every divorce starts with mum having, by default, the child benefit status and with this also the right to child maintenance. Under the HMRC and CMS nomenclature, she is by default the PWC and dad equally by default the NRP. These are the designations attached to the two parents as they first enter the court room. I guess you would regard this as a level playing field? Maybe on the grounds that both “PWC” and “NRP” contain three letters?

  7. Bruno Ditri says:

    I would accept that English family law is not explicitly biased against either gender. However, it is, in my view and experience, biased in practice for the following reason.
    The law seeks to establish what it deems to call a ‘primary carer’. This is generally the parent who effects 51% or more of childcare duties. The ‘winner past the post’, if you like. In most cases, this is the mother.
    The law then ascribes to this ‘primary carer’ a disproportionate degree of power and control over the child.
    This power is shown most acutely in relocation cases, in which the primary carer is often given permission to remove the child to far off lands, thereby severing or severely damaging the close bond between the child and the left-behind parent.

  8. Mike says:

    My charges against the divorce regime are extremely serious, and the language I use to describe it is strong. But all my allegations are backed with documentation and have never been refuted. The publications in which they appear are respected and credible journals with solid reputations, and their editors are not known to be extremists. Moreover, I am not the only one making these charges. Even aside from the testimonials of parents who have directly experienced its depredations (but who are seldom believed), here are the views of other eminent figures. None of these are “fathers’ rights” activists. Shouldn’t any area of government activity about which such prominent people are making such serious charges be the subject of an investigation or at least some public debate?

    “It is remarkable that such a grossly unjust system has not been noticed. One explanation is that no one knows what happens…until it happens to them – and even then they can’t believe it. Any objections are dismissed as implausible.” Melanie Phillips, The Sex-Change Society: Feminised Britain and the Neutered Male (London: Social Market Foundation, 1999), p. 282.

    “In the beginning, insiders dismissed [the stories], assuming them to be made up of disgruntled fathers who must have done something unspeakable, or else why would their children’s mothers have taken such extreme action? Because if things were as bad as these people say, wouldn’t we know about it already?” Maureen Freely, “A Secret World of Suffering Children,” The Independent, 18 October 2001.

    “In recent years, fathers have been the subject of a tidal wave of critical thinking and punitive action…. If the past few decades have seen a systematic war against parents, the battles waged against fathers have been particularly ugly and fierce.” Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Cornel West, The War Against Parents: What We Can Do for America’s Beleaguered Moms and Dads (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1998), p. 173.

    “Virtually every aspect of what I call the ‘bad divorced dad’ image has turned out to be a myth, an inaccurate and damaging stereotype. Not only is this myth seriously inaccurate, it has led to harmful and dangerous social policies.” Sanford L. Braver with Diane O’Connell, Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths (New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1998), p. 6. This book has been described as “probably the most important work of conservative social science in a decade.” Robert Locke, “Deadbeat Social Scientists,” FrontPageMagazine.com, 2 July 2001.

    “Women are lone parents in 84% of cases not because men abandon their children, but because… the fathers have been constructively banished, with the collusion of the state, which encourages women to abuse the grotesque power we have conferred on them.” John Waters, Irish Times, 6 October 1998.

    “Open season appears to have been declared now on men. The British government treats all absent fathers as feckless, even though some may be the blameless victims of destructive behavior by women…. Most divorces…are initiated by women. Many divorced fathers have their homes and children taken away from them and are all but destroyed. They are then clobbered by the Child Support Agency, which treats them as if they are the guilty party….
    “Even if a father shares childcare equally with his ex-wife, he will have to pay the mother for the child’s upkeep. Moreover, the mother’s income won’t henceforth be taken into account. So even if she’s gone off with a man earning £100,000 a year, scooping up the family home and the children en route, her ex-husband will have to pay her – thus supporting behavior he may even believe is damaging his children….
    “He may be deprived of all contact with his children by courts which stack the cards against him. The lord chancellor’s advisory board on family law has said that if wives allege domestic violence against their former husbands, the courts should stop them seeing their children. It is not uncommon, though, for women to make entirely spurious charges of violence against their ex-husbands just to prevent them from having access to their children. Lawyers say the courts are overwhelmingly disposed to believe them, even when there isn’t a shred of evidence.
    “The amount of violence in marriage is small (most violence takes place between cohabitants or lovers). When violence does occur it is balanced between the sexes…. Most physical abuse of children is perpetrated by women.” Melanie Phillips, “The Rape Reform That Makes All Men Guilty,” Sunday Times, 4 July 1999.

    “Another troubling new issue is Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, the federal government’s child support collection and enforcement program. Originally designed to track down the welfare fathers of illegitimate children, the measure has increasingly targeted middle income households affected by divorce. There is mounting evidence that the system now encourages marital breakup and exacerbates fatherlessness by creating a winner-take-all game, where the losing parent–commonly a father wanting to save the marriage–is unfairly penalized by the loss of his children and by a federally enforced child support obligation. Here we find objectively false feminist views–the assumption that men are always the abusers and women are always the victims–driving public policy. And here we find still another newly indentured class of citizens–noncustodial parents–being squeezed financially by the state. If you think this an exaggeration, I refer you to no less an authority than Phyllis Schlafly, who calls this runaway federal law the most serious danger facing American families today.” Allan Carlson, “Indentured Families: Social Conservatives and the GOP: Can this Marriage be Saved?” Weekly Standard, 27 March 2006.

    “Our common desperation seems to have produced the common delusion that experts actually exist who really can determine with the unerring instincts of a homing pigeon exactly where the best interests of the child lie, where the child should live, whether and how a child has been hurt, and who is unfit to be a parent at all, who should have the right and the duty to care for a child, who should see the child only under restricted conditions, and who should be kept away from the child altogether.
    “Acceptance of their expertise has led us to trust professionals to make these decisions for the family court system. That means ultimately that we also grant them the power to make these decisions for our own families. The abstract need for society to protect its children becomes inevitably the rape of the rights of the real parents of individual children. Once again, the institutionalization of society’s desire to “do good” results in terrible harm for those in the path of the ‘do gooders.’
    “The marriage of law and psychology has reached the heights of disproportionate power for the psychologists not just in the family courts but in all legal disputes in which a psychological matter is at issue. Judges buy the validity of the expertise of the confident psychological practitioner and no doubt welcome the opportunity to make their own decisions on some foundation other than personal opinion and bias.” Margaret Hagan, Whores of the Court: The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice (New York: HarperCollins, 1997), p. 234.

    “The authorities will act quickly to ‘protect’ your children from you. They’ll curtail your visitation during their investigation; you’ll be restricted to being with your children only in the presence of a supervisor, and you’ll be ordered to pay the supervisor’s fees.” Jed Abraham, From Courtship to Courtroom (Evanston: Bloch, 1999), p. 6.

    “You’ll watch them from afar as they grow up with the kinds of psycho-social problems that children who live with their fathers rarely have. You’ll watch from afar, and you won’t be able to do anything about it.” Abraham, From Courtship to Courtroom, p. 6.

    “We see bizarre cases where abusive and violent mothers are given child custody to ‘save their motherhood. One sees fathers kept from the bedsides of dying children because their presence might upset the mother.” Peter Jensen, “New Laws on Child Custody Should Help Fathers,” Vancouver Sun, 18 December 2002.

    “Washing their hands of judgements about conduct…the courts assume that all children should normally live with their mothers, regardless of how the women have behaved.” Yet if a mother has gone off to live with another man, does that not indicate a measure of irresponsibility or instability, not least because by breaking up the family and maybe moving hundreds of miles away from her children’s father she is acting against their best interests?” Melanie Phillips, The Sex-Change Society: Feminised Britain and the Neutered Male (London: Social Market Foundation, 1999), p. 275.

    “We have found that who gets the children is by far the most important component in deciding who files for divorce.” Margaret F. Brinig and Douglas W. Allen, “These Boots Are Made for Walking: Why Most Divorce Filers are Women,” American Economics and Law Review, vol. 2, issue 1 (Spring 2000), pp. 126-127, 129, 158 (original emphasis). Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee found roughly two-thirds of divorces were sought by women “in the face of opposition” from the husband. Second Chances: Men, Women, and Children a Decade After Divorce (New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1989), p. 39. Constance R. Ahrons found “between two-thirds and three-quarters of all divorces are initiated by the wife.” The Good Divorce : Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Comes Apart (New York: HarperPerennial, 1995), p. 92.

    “Fifty-eight percent of men delayed their divorce because of concerns about their children. Far fewer women had this worry. … ‘Not believing in divorce’ was the next most important reason men cited. … The idea of an older man leaving his wife for a younger woman is ingrained in the American psyche — and that has created a misconception about divorce. … But…as this survey makes abundantly clear, women are more than willing to chart a new life for themselves if they’re in an unfulfilling marriage.” Elizabeth Enright, “A House Divided,” AARP The Magazine, July-August 2004, pp. 54, 57; “AARP The Magazine Study on Divorce Finds That Women are Doing the Walking,” AARP press release, 27 May 2004 (aarp.org/research/press/presscurrentnews/Articles/a2004-05-28-divorce.html).

    “Ninety-one percent of women who have divorced say they made the decision to divorce, not their husbands.” Shere Hite, Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress (New York: Knopf, 1987), p. 459.

    “The wife is the moving party in divorce actions seven times out of eight.” David Chambers, Making Fathers Pay: The Enforcement of Child Support (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 29.

    “No matter how faithless, a wife who files for divorce can count on the state as an ally.” Bryce Christensen, “The Strange Politics of Child Support,” Society, vol. 39, no. 1 (November-December 2001), p. 65.

    “In every other area of law, it aims to make people who have done wrong accept the consequences of their actions: Imagine saying if a burglar that he shouldn’t be blamed for his crime because it might stigmatise him and make him upset. Imagine saying of a neighbour who tears down the next door’s fence that he shouldn’t be held responsible and made to pay for the destruction because it would make it more difficult for the two of them to live next door to each other afterwards.” Melanie Phillips, “Death Blow to Marriage,” in Robert Whelan, Just a Piece of Paper? p. 15.

    “What if American law refused to enforce business contracts and indeed systematically favored the party that wished to withdraw, on the grounds that “fault” was messy and irrelevant and exposed judges and attorneys to unpleasant acrimony…so that when disputes arose, thieves and owners would be left to work things out among themselves, because after all, one cannot legislate morality?” Maggie Gallagher, The Abolition of Marriage (Washington, DC: Regnery, 1996), p. 144, 149.

    “The divorce laws…were reformed by unrepresentative groups with very particular agendas of their own and which were not in step with public opinion. All the evidence suggests that public attitudes were gradually dragged along behind laws that were generally understood at the time to mean something very different from what they subsequently came to represent.” Melanie Phillips, The Sex-Change Society, p. 261 (original emphasis). See a similar appraisal by Bryce J. Christensen, “Taking Stock: Assessing Twenty Years of ‘No Fault’ Divorce,” in Robert Whelan (ed.), Just a Piece of Paper? Divorce Reform and the Undermining of Marriage (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1995), pp. 58-59.

    “When someone mentions the best interests of the child, it is code for the best interests of the mother.” Al Knight, “Another Blow to Marriage,” Denver Post, 20 June 2001.

    “I represent your kids, but I don’t want to. Because I don’t love your children. I don’t even know them. It is a legal fiction that the law’s best interest is your children.” New Jersey Family Court Judge Robert Page, quoted in Stephen Barr “Refereeing the Ugliest Game in Town,” New Jersey Monthly, May 1998, pp. 52-55, 71-74.

    “Family lawyers…maintain that justice has no place in their courts where their decisions are driven instead by questions of ‘need. Family court judges thus preside with equanimity over injustice.” Melanie Phillips, “Goodbye Lords, Hello the Dictatorship of the Judges,” Sunday Times, 14 November 1999.

    “There is absolutely no credible evidence that these [methods] are valid predictors of which spouse will make the best primary parent. In fact, there is no evidence that there is a scientifically valid way for a custody evaluator to choose the best primary parent.” Sanford Braver, Divorced Dads, pp. 221-222 (original emphasis).

    “Your average psychiatrist and psychologist are not adequately trained to do forensic evaluations on children. … People with no prior experience are now starting to do this work, holding themselves out as experts.” Forensic psychologist Stephen Herman, quoted in Richard T. Pienciak and Linda Yglesias, “Who Gets the Kids?” New York Daily News, 25 September 1998.

    “Legal or not, a sitting state legislator ought to choose not to profit from state contracts. Legal or not, someone should have been willing to say ages ago that sitting legislators shouldn’t be receiving those regional child-support enforcement contracts.” John Brummett, “The Confession in Nick’s Denial,” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 29 April 1999.

    “A custody fight is a form of child abuse. Our process is about winners, losers, ownership, possession. We have a divorce system that encourages fighting, bitterness, children being caught in the middle.” Hoftstra University Law School professor Andrew Shepard, quoted in the New York Daily News, 25 September, 1998.

    “These systems have become very efficient little cash machines, generating profits rather than working for the best interests of children and their families.” C. Jesse Green, interview with attorney Michael E. Tindall, Michigan Lawyers Weekly (http://www.michiganlawyersweekly.com/loty2000/tindall.htm; no date, accessed 1 May 2002).

    “The system of adversarial attorneys, advocacy agencies, and judges constitutes an industry that deserves to be outlawed for crimes against humanity. … The divorce industry has to be dismantled, burned, and buried like the monster it is.” Kathleen Parker, Orlando Sentinel, 10 February 1999.

    “Divorce is a great destroyer that is eating the heart out of society as well as savaging children’s lives. Its depredations will not be reversed given ever so many mediators or conciliators.” Patricia Morgan, “Conflict and Divorce: Like a Horse and Carriage?” in Robert Whelan (ed.), Just a Piece of Paper? Divorce Reform and the Undermining of Marriage (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1995), p. 32.

    “If I complain to the presiding judge about Judge A, the good-old-boy network is going to kick in, and it’s going to hurt my client. … Family Court judges have tremendous latitude in making decisions, more so in some ways than in the other courts.” Attorney quoted in Paul Rubin, “Judge Not,” Phoenix New Times, 31 August 2000.

    “The Domestic Relations and Juvenile Courts of Butler County foster a culture of secrecy, fear and judicial abuse that violates the most fundamental and sacred rights guaranteed by our nation’s Constitution — the rights of due process of the laws. … [Litigants] “are routinely excluded from court proceedings and deliberations, told to wait outside the hearing room in a hallway while their lives, personal property, children, and homes are divided up by strangers. … Nowhere is this judicial hypocrisy more dramatically illustrated than in the Court Rules of the Domestic Relations Court. These rules require placing personal information about people’s private lives in public records, which are easily available on the Internet, while blocking disclosure of what judge is assigned to the case. … The outrage is muted by an incestuous network of insiders who are spared the crucible of public scrutiny by a system that operates behind locked doors, disciplined by a real fear of being punished if the members ever break ranks and rail against the injustice they see daily. Michael A. Fox, A Culture of Secrecy, Fear, and Judicial Abuse: A Report on the Butler County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts (http://www.pacegroup.org/fox_report_without_doc.pdf, accessed 12 November 2004), pp. 2-3.

  9. exInjuria says:

    For years I swallowed the standard fathers’ rights rhetoric about gender bias in the family courts, until I actually started thinking and reading for myself.

    What is interesting is that despite a decade searching I have yet to come across a well-constructed, persuasive argument – WITH EVIDENCE – to back up the claim. Most writers start from the premise that it is so widely accepted there is no need to argue the case. The idea of bias in the courts has become a meme, repeated endlessly, but never argued from first principles.

    Before John gets too smug, the same goes for those who deny bias. They are just as bad, stating there is no bias but offering no argument or evidence in support. The sole piece of research cited, Hunt and Macleod’s 2008 “Outcomes of applications to court for contact orders after parental separation or divorce”, which was commissioned purely to refute claims of bias, proves nothing of the sort.

    Nothing posted above, with immense respect to the writers, actually constitutes an argument. Munby’s comments in Re D, for example, listed eight serious failings of the courts – including delay, lack of judicial continuity, failure to enforce orders – but bias was not one of them. I borrowed a phrase from Re D – “An exercise in absolute futility” – for the title of my book on the courts.

    The fathers’ lobby likes to think there is anti-father bias in the courts because they want to believe they are the victims of a grand civil rights abuse; they like to use the term “gender apartheid”, comparing their victimisation with that of blacks in South Africa. Whatever is going on in the family courts, however, it has nothing in common with apartheid, something that should be obvious from the fact that mothers also can be dealt with very badly by family justice, particularly in public law proceedings.

    There is a great deal profoundly wrong with the family justice system, much of it stemming from the fact that the courts are the worst place possible in which to resolve disputes about parenting. There is incompetence, complacency, an inability to learn from evidence, an unwillingness to enforce orders, very poor standards amongst some lower court judges, endless delay, misused resources, ignorant, stupid and prejudiced individuals. All this will impact more seriously on one party or the other depending on the circumstances and nature of the proceedings. I don’t see any evidence of systemic institutional bias.

    Fathers’ groups which preach to their members that there is bias against them encourage fathers to approach the courts expecting bias, and that they will be discriminated against. This prophecy becomes self-fulfilling and damages many fathers’ cases. When their negative and confrontational attitude causes the case to go against them they feel vindicated and it reinforces their own false perception. A more open approach is often more constructive.

    • Dr. Nigel Miles says:

      Again you are regurgitating the same old chestnut.

      If parity of responsible parenting was enacted then there would not discrimation against any parent. lf any investigations were required it would be undertaken by relevant mediation. And please no silly arguments against this. We don’t live in the draconian times of Judge Jeffries et al.

      If parents from whatever gender do not act responsibly and where criminal evidence is fact against one parent or both then, and only then the State intervenes.

      We are a laughing stock amongst EU nations on this issue.

      Don’t protect Courts when they don’t act in accordance with what is in the best interestts of all our children. Thoae parenst only compare Court actions in the “apartheid manner” if it acts in this way. Bias of decision should anachronisticand and be based on fact and only empirical fact.

      Sorry John you can’t win on this one and as a Samaritan l can concur with the Pilgrim Fathers (and Mothers) on their action to bring both a balanced moral code to enact what us needed for 3.8 million children who are being failed by Courts currently. It is just a shame that you have not appreciated the natural impartiality on this issue.
      Remember from the Strasbourg declaration a deliberation of assumption is assumed on parenting not legal rights.

  10. Aistair says:

    All family courts should be made to make their judgements and associated statistics freely available so we can see for ourselves how equal fathers are treated.

  11. Name Witheld says:

    My initial thoughts after reading this article were I wonder how much the Government and Family Law Courts paid to have this article conscripted.
    After working with the fall out of numerous children from distressed and ‘broken homes’ for many years and in keeping with the prescribed media I had been sadly sold along the rive with ‘men are violent, selfish Fathers’ who abandon their children with nothing more than the promise of a free bar and a sniff of the barmaids apron. My eyes have been widely opened during the last three years since the birth of my beautiful daughter.
    The colosel gender difference I have experienced in just trying to gain equality in parenting my daughter has been nothing short of sanctioned domestic abuse. Having read responses to the the article it is clear there are others that are in clear disbelief of bias due to aleged insufficient evidence. To those I offer a brief insight to my daughters Governmental abuse. I lodged an application for joint residency, 50/50 child arrangement and was awarded only 48hrs despite my daughters tender age and child professional experience. I faced the usual solicitor led malicious allegations in an attempt to ruin character and gain legal aid. Financial ruin and hardship by way of support by the notorious CSA(another domestic abuse tool). Which every single tax paying parent fears as lack of funds determine grounds for an inability to support your own child. Combine this with such prejudiced sexist written court reports by CAFCASS leads the court nicely to keep with their agenda. For to change this would not only bring the family courts into disrepute but also require the NHS, the education and welfare system into a full reform. Just imagine the cost of that!
    Sadly that leaves us with the same old issues…a society growing up learning control between the sexes and young males specifically confused entering into adulthood. To the non believers I suggest research into suicide rates, custody rates and vast increase in domestic violence. Society has changed significantly in the last 50years, men and women now now go to work and keep a home. Isn’t it about time our Family Courts acknowledged that and caught up!

  12. george says:

    “”Looking closer, our divorce law does not discriminate between husband and wife: either party may commence the proceedings, and either party may be the respondent. The ground for divorce (irretrievable breakdown) says nothing about husband or wife, and nor do any of the five ways of proving irretrievable breakdown. As to disputes over arrangements for children, the law says nothing to favour mother or father – the welfare of the child is the court’s paramount concern. Similarly, the law relating to financial remedies following divorce does not favour either husband or wife.””

    Look very very close. Be myopic. “either party may commence proceedings” – 66% of women initiate divorce.
    telegraph.co.uk/men/relationships/10357829/Why-do-women-initiate-divorce-more-than-men.html
    “”As to disputes over arrangements for children, the law says nothing to favour mother or father.”” 80% of women have sole custody after divorce and that includes agreed divorces. When there is a dispute that rises to 95% of children that live with their mother after divorce with contact visits that may or may not happen with the father.

    “”Similarly, the law relating to financial remedies following divorce does not favour either husband or wife.”” Oh yes the law is so fair in England that men are so stupid that they are running to get divorced in the EU.
    telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/expat-money/8817594/British-spouses-race-to-European-divorce-courts.html

    This article is so divorced from the truth that it is unreal. Unless you are a feminist, people involved in the family court system know it is biased. Even some feminists admit the bias.

  13. John Denbigh says:

    When men have to satisfy certain tests which are not applicable to women simply to obtain parental responsibility for their child which can be a long time coming, when fathers will nearly always be both the non-resident parent following separation and the applicant in Children Act proceedings (Ministry of Justice. (2008) Outcomes of applications to court for contact orders after parental separation or divorce. Hunt, J. and Macleod, A) , when around 30% of all children whose parents separate lose contact with their fathers (Office for National Statistics. 2013), when typically fathers only get 2 days in 14 ‘awarded’ by the courts in which to spend time with their children and when the court consistently fail to enforcement their own orders in the face of breaches by recalcitrant mothers, to suggest there is no bias against men shows nothing but contempt for the facts.

  14. Yvie says:

    It is often an uphill struggle for fathers following high conflict divorce. Even if a father is successful in obtaining shared residence the battle isn’t always over. Many mothers (and sometimes fathers) continue with their opposition despite the court order. This can result in ignoring the contact order, or even worse, they may vilify and denigrate the father to the children to such an extent, that eventually the children become alienated and reluctant to see the targeted parent. Sadly after nine years shared residence this has happened with my grandson. He has had a loving and caring father but suddenly aged 15 and in a matter of only a few months, he no longer wishes to see or communicate with his father. The youngest child so far, has been unaffected though he is obviously under strain. It is time the Courts recognised and dealt with pathological parenting. It is very real to whose who experience it and apart from destroying a loving relationship between parent and child, it can have a devastating effect on the child for very many years.

  15. JamesB says:

    Sorry to hear that Yvie.

  16. yvie says:

    Thank you James. It is a very difficult situation to deal with. You can’t do anything to put things right, yet you can’t seem to get on with your own life. Unfortunately it looks as though my grandson’s hostility has also extended to myself and my husband. We do not have his new phone number and he does not wish to visit us.

  17. JamesB says:

    I miss the good times in my family also, I don’t think I am the only one, modern times seems to have resulted in a lot of estranged people and that is sad, there seems to be a lot of posturing going on and its a pity that people cannot work together more effectively for the good of all concerned.

    Unfortunately many seem to see it as a win lose thing. It is hard to be the better person hoping things to change but I think that is the least worse way, I know I go on about the judgement of Solomon a lot but it is relevant under the unfortunate system we have. It seems the side who inflict the most pain on the children or family win as the other side either have to do the same or walk away to stop the fighting and pain so they do so and the other side win, the third alternative of biting lip is really bloody difficult especially when ex is slagging me off to anyone who will listen and most people round where I am think I am some sort of wife beating pedo tight with money who doesn’t turn up to see kids and drags ex through court when she is lovely and never does anything wrong. I have been surprised by the ability of most to live at superficial level and not scratch the surface. I have been doing it for over ten years and I worry about my mental health with the continual piss being taken out of me and me not responding to it at all. If you do respond or say anything you lose contact, if you don’t your kids think worse of you. I like to think that my children will see past it, but I am not sure.

    I think the sad thing is that you have to move on as the legal system doesn’t really care about the non resident parent. The only noise they make is for maintenance so the government can minimise their welfare payments, they do that and it makes the problem worse by making it economically possible to stick it to the caring parent which is wrong and brings the law into disrepute.

    I do think less and less people go along with the clichés and stereotypes of bad husband good wife and will get better over time regardless of the likes of John and establishment telling us how it (the law) is for the best when it so plainly isn’t. I do think it will have to change either the law will change or will become less used. Unfortunately we are in a period where it is so widely abused as it is so bad and only cares about supporting the pwc which is wrong.

    All the best I hope the situation gets better and good over time for you and your family and for me and mine also.

  18. Richarf Hoseason says:

    I never heard such drivel in my life. Forget researching it and try living through it. The Children Act outlays the relationship between the mother and child and allows fathers to contend after mother gets full custody. After that it’s just further downhill for men. Keep your mild amusement to yourself

  19. JamesB says:

    I do know separating couples who have done it well, they did not go to court or use lawyers. They also do not slag each other off to the other parent. I don’t know about the other people on here but my ex does and I try not to. I think it hurts the kids though as they are 50% each of you so they will take it personally I try to stop that and stop my ex with it. The law seems to encourage it, as what I am writing here and in last post is pretty much the story of Kramer vs Kramer which is a thirty five year old film and the criticisms it made then are the same now and are wrong so things haven’t changed when they should and are bad with the legal system.

    I think the real issue is the law pretending that you divorce the husband or wife but not your children from them, I think that is a lie when they say that. A Cafcass person said it to me uncertainly as I looked her in the eye and I think it is a lie. I said I was worried about losing my children and she said you and your ex are divorcing not you and your children, I can’t remember the exact words, but it was a lie. It is not the same and the crumbs you get are a nothing but a token and unenforceable. It would be a more honest system to just have a completely clean break and say if the kids want to see you when they are grown up they can at least the court can deliver that and you aren’t stuck paying maintenance for a family you are not part of anymore and someone else bringing up your children as I am and many others seem to be.

  20. JamesB says:

    The current law in E and W is that the money goes to who has the child living with them and is wrong and bad. The inability of courts to grant shared residency and enforce contact is also wrong and bad. So, the ‘resident’ parent gets an order they can enforce stripping the other for the ‘benefit of the children involved’ (sick lie) and the non resident parent gets an unenforceable contact order. Foul. Unfair. We should have better law than that.

    I put it to my solicitor how come she gets an enforceable order and I get an unenforceable order, she had no response other than to say that the courts can do something about her order but not mine. A mealy mouthed reply as courts could enforce contact orders but do not, plus to be honest the real issue is the unfair distribution of assets and income on the basis of it being for the benefit of the children which is a lie. A clean break including access to the children and all your assets would at least give you the ability to start again as it is the non resident parent gets stitched up and tend to die a lot younger than the resident parent (have seen that a lot, is usual, trying to be an exception to this rule myself) which is bad law.

  21. JamesB says:

    The best revenge you can get is to be happy, but the law makes that very difficult as a non resident parent. Or whatever the terms are these days, I think the terms are current. Someone correct me if I am wrong please with what the terms are if they are not. The points are the same though whatever the terms and the law is bad and needs to be changed please.

    Non-resident parent /paying parent – The parent who does not have day-to-day care of the child and pays child maintenance to the resident/receiving parent.

    Resident parent /receiving parent – the parent or person who has day-to-day care of the child and receives the child maintenance. Resident parents are sometimes referred to as the parent with care.

  22. JamesB says:

    I am tired of it and being treated badly by the law, I can see why people leave the country because of it and know people who have left rather than just be milked for a system they don’t believe in or feel represented by. Its not all bad though at least I don’t have to live with my ex any more still overall the cons of divorce outweigh the pros, it is a con.

  23. JamesB says:

    Divorce is a con in this country for the non resident parent. Anyone who advises you as a non resident parent that it is for the best either doesn’t know what they are talking about, thinks you are rich, or has a vested interest in maintaining the current bad law in this area in England and Wales, can we have the Scottish or American system for Ancillary relief please and enforceable contact orders and shared residency 50:50 on demand please. Now I need to leave this as is doing my head in as yvie says its hard to forget about and give up on the subject even more so when you pay so much ongoing.

  24. JamesB says:

    The law needs to change please.

  25. JamesB says:

    The current (unfair and biased) Law in this area Reminds me of a famous Monty Python sketch.

    Well I looked it up and there isn’t one. The one I found is the argument clinic.

    The one we have is, person walks into the department as says, I would like to have an insult please, then they get charged for it then they set up a direct debit for it, its crazy.

    So, I pay to be insulted by my ex and her new husband and them to bring up my children which I don’t get to see and I am supposed to pay for this system both directly and indirectly and to say thanks to the law for this state of affairs. Is illogical, like there should be a Monty Python department of insults.

    youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y

    That link is pretty much how I found family court and the law in this area in England and Wales it needs changing to something better and fair please because it isn’t fair and is biased for all the reasons and more mentioned on this thread.

  26. JamesB says:

    System for me has felt like me paying to have an argument and be ripped off and insulted for minimum of 20 years by first capital sum then losing children slowly and paying monthly by direct debit to finance it its crazy adding insult to injury month in month out for 20 years I have suggested how can be done better and fairer above.

  27. JamesB says:

    If we are doing blame, I blame feminism. We are where we are though (another phrase lawyers have been known to frequently use after a lot of money down the drain to very little effect) and need to look forward on where we go and how we deal with things from now. Change of laws to something fairer as mentioned please.

  28. JamesB says:

    UKIP are the only party saying anything to change this. They say 50:50 shared residency on request by default and that would sort this out and is better than what we have which is a stitchup. If anyone is listening, (especially stichedup) I said to a (family law) Judge once, “I don’t want to be stitched-up” and the Judge replied to me “That’s not what we do here!” and looked upset. I disagreed with him then on that and I still disagree with him now on that and it needs to change. I changed the subject as soon as he said that and the barristers and Judge were staring at me and we calmed the situation down a bit to enable me to be stitchedup some more a bit pythonesque but that’s family law in E and W and it needs to change please.

  29. JamesB says:

    By the way, I use the Pythonesque as a way to describe.

    It is not funny how they mess up so many peoples lives and they should do better.

    I advise people to avoid these family law courts in E and W as much as possible in their present state they need to change please.

  30. Yvie says:

    The way the Courts work enables children to be effectively removed from the parental care of one parent to the sole care of the other, who may have taken determined steps to alienate the children from the targeted parent.. For example, a Court order is in place until the child is 16 – yet at 15 the child choses to disregard his own father, no reason is required, no action is taken, as the child is nearly an adult.. The second child, aged 11, still wants to be part of his dad’s life and comes as per the Court order. Their mother, who has successfully removed the eldest child from the life of his natural father, could be encouraged to do the same with the youngest child. If the youngest child did become alienated over subsequent months, aged 12 or 13, what action would the Court take. Absolutely none. The child being old enough to make his own mind up. No-one would be interested in the fact that children had been removed from the father’s care into the care of their mother and stepfather by skilful manipulation and alienation. No questions are asked as to the affect of this on the children in subsequent years, perhaps for many years.

    As the CSA is payable until children reach the age of 20 or even beyond, perhaps court orders should not terminate at the age of 16. Children of this age are capable of making choices, but they are not always mature enough to evaluate those choices.

  31. nongenderbias9 says:

    Family courts have nothing to do with the preservation of the family. They are the exact opposite. You will be assessed by at least one agency (e.g. Cafcass) and questioned, accused, shamed and demeaned. Then the Judge in his wisdom will determine who gets what (i.e. the spoils). Usually the mother will be sympathised with because by their very nature women need protecting and the children, especially if young will be expected to attach to her, whatever her state of mind.

    A more accurate name for the family court would be the “protection of women’s rights court”. Fathers are simply there to be told what is expected of them. Father will be given a schedule of contact arrangements to visit his children. In so far as the court is concerned the time spent with his children has nothing to do with helping the children and father continue a meaningful relationship. It is so that father has time to appreciate what he is paying for and to emotionally destroy him by reminding him of how his enforced separation from his children is abusing him and his children and his former partner.

    I am sorry I can’t recommend the court for anyone going through family breakdown. What I do recommend is a good therapist/counsellor.

    1. Address your mental health issues. You have to stay mentally fit. The trauma of family separation will have affected us more than we care to admit.
    2. Learn the best possible empathic parenting skills that you can.
    3. Become a clever manipulator and psychologist (just like your ex.) don’t be aggressive, be smart.
    Read about it in the books that deal with co-parenting issues.

    Kind regards

    Remember whatever the courts decide, 50:50 or 90;10, it is the management of those circumstances that will ensure the survival of important relationships, and it will all come from what you do not what your Ex does.

  32. Name Witheld says:

    Hi,

    I am writing this letter in the hope that someone can help or advice me.

    After 2 years of a custody battle, my daughter has been in court for the last time yesterday,
    Trying to get custody of her two boys, she has been let down by Social Services, Cafcass, NSPCC, Children Services, Police and three Judges. She has worked and paid solicitor fees, then another year of tax payers money down the drain as they have left the children with drug abusing father with over 30 convictions who she split up with him well over 10 years ago. My daughter has never been married to this person and has brought them up with help of family for 8 years, until 2 years ago, he refused to let them come home.
    Police would not enforce first order of residence , 2 time judge ordered to go back to original arrangements of shared custody. the children’s father deliberately made the children unavailable, non molestation order was broken, the children’s father felt the need to leave letters on her car window screen, numerous popped tyres on her car, this made family pay 350 pounds for cameras to be put up outside her home, even this approach has not worked he just covers his face up.Police notified on every occasion.

    I have wrote Cafcas of my concerns over a year ago, I do not think they are really interested.

    Picking the children up outside his home became unsafe due to him snatching her car keys from her car and throwing them over a field at the back of house , police were called and due to him telling them that she threw her own keys and having friends who were witnesses.
    Nothing was done even though she had recorded the incident on a Dictaphone, which clearly proves that he did take her car keys out of the car.
    .
    I had told her to purchase the Dictaphone a few weeks prior to this incident. I ended up sat in her car overnight with her as we could not leave it there all night due to the fact that we did not know what he would do to the car, if it was left and she needed it for work.We could not get it moved till the following morning , this cost a further 180.00 pounds, for a new barrel, key and to get the car towed.

    I told my daughter that I do not want her going near his house again, you do not know what he may do next.

    Last time in court the judge ordered a drug test and said there would be serious consequences if the father did not adhere,
    Today there was no mention of the serious consequences, as the father has not turned up for this test.
    Again they have been left in his care.
    One grandsons education as a result of being at his fathers has deteriorated, he has been expelled from his secondary school and his future looks like It is going down the tubes.

    Despite reports from the primary school which raised concerns about the father, this has not been considered by the courts.

    Today my grandson posted on his Facebook that he is to start at a school for Children that are difficult to place anywhere.
    My other grandsons punctuality and absence from school has increased and his grades have dropped.

    This is FAILURE on a huge scale. She walked out Court exasperated and exhausted and told them that she would not be going back to court again, she has reached the end of her tether
    What is wrong with these people they do not seem to have a moral compass or any conscience, would any parent be happy with this outcome, of the children being resident with father.

    Not sure if a complaint to the ombudsman would suffice. Any suggestions?
    This man is well known in this area with over 30 Convictions and is what one would call a kunlangeta [psychopath] or charmer who takes everyone in and manipulates them.

    He will now claim all the money he can, with the help of his mother who works at the benefits office, including child benefit and spend it on his habit instead of his children.

    My daughters visitation rights do not exist.

    Any suggestions or advice welcome.

    My daughter who was charmed by this person 14 years ago, maybe gagged, but I am not and intend to take this to the media if I cannot find a solution.

    I think that people have a right to know what tax payers money is being spent on and that the present systems do not work.

  33. MikeR says:

    Reading the comments here I am really dismayed. My wife and I have separated and we have two children. We are going to court and I have applied for shared residency. The children stay part with me and part with her but she has control.
    Should I bother spending the money or just give up? I love my daughters to bits but to get an order that goes against me would be unthinkable.

  34. Name Witheld says:

    My ex-wife unilaterally decided to move my children over 2 hours away without my consent. She pressed forward with the purchase of the property, despite me asking her to find a solution that would allow me to maintain my weekly contact with the children.

    Sadly the court system allows any ‘resident parent’ to uproot children despite there being so-called ‘parental responsibility’ on both sides. A parent can apply for a Child Areangement Order and present it as a fair accompli. When you show up in court and say I have moved house the children and these are the new arrangements whether the non-resident parent likes it or not. No opportunity for the courts to stall the process or allow the non-resident parent the chance to negotiate an equal deal around the children.

    It is not about punishing the other parent for wanting to relocate, but it is about courts having more powers and using them to impose a stop until all the due diligence has been done and any other options exhausted.

    The fact that a resident parent can simply change a children’s life without the non-resident parent or the courts stopping this is beggar’s belief. This is children’s relationships with a parent you are playing with. My experience says that an overhaul of the system needs to be carefully looked at – in Australia (which is a far larger country) courts have the power to impose a relocation that is no more than an hour away from the other parent.

    Family Law around children is more a poorly designed checklist of rules, than law. Decision making is guided by assumptions and myopically thought out rulings. In my experience it just does not work in the children’s best interest.

  35. Sue says:

    Tbh, I can’t believe what I’m reading here in the comments. When I worked as a court social worker in the mid-late 1970s, writing custody reports (as they were then called, where both parents were fighting to look after their kids upon a break up), the overwhelming mantra was that decisions were biased exclusively in favour of “the best interests of the child/ren”, which were considered by absolutely everybody concerned, to be “paramount”. To that end, I always recommended decisions in favour of fathers, where that was appropriate, and to mothers, where that what was appropriate. Iirc, my recommendations were always acted on. Has the law changed so terribly in the intervening years that that’s no longer the case?

  36. Sue says:

    Follow up comments welcome

  37. Paul says:

    How is it just that the people who practise law are allowed to get away with not instigating the very laws that provide their careers? How is it that CAFCASS and SS and housing departments and the whole benefits system, child maintenance system and everything related to familial breakdown is without doubt biased towards mothers?
    The children’s act states that, more or less, the children’s best interests should be paramount!

    It’s that simple.

    By denying a father absolute equality with respect to children, you are denying the children. I don’t know how anyone can sleep at night knowing that a third of little ones across the country have their lives torn apart and that they have a hand in prolonging their suffering. Do any of them understand what it feels like when their parents break up? It’s bad enough for the parents.

    It is up to each and every individual who works in the family law industry to take responsibility for their actions, to understand that their decisions hurt people, children and adults alike. Anything less than equality, unless under exceptional circumstances, should be the norm. It SHOULD be a child’s absolute right to have both parents involved in their lives.

    But even more importantly, our laws should also provide for statistics of family court matters to be readily available. For the people involved in this industry to be accountable for their actions. For parents who make false allegations or who go against court orders to be regularly punished. Yes, it affects the children’s lives, but so does the constant denial of contact from their father’s.

    Aren’t we all about accountability now? Why are the family courts excluded from this?

    The starting point should be equal access, equal benefits, equal housing opportunities, equal parents. Anything less should be absolutely justified in the eyes of the law. If a parent is a danger to their children, or they are neglectful, then with adequate proof the scales should be tipped towards the more responsible parent. The scales are already unequal and I’ll say it again, the children suffer because of this.

    If one third of all children in the UK are affected by this then there are a huge number of adults who should be standing up and screaming THIS IS WRONG. CHANGE IT!

  38. KJD says:

    Depressing for men. Why bother having a family court when the outcome is predetermined? Is the whole system just a business to extract money from innocent victims (men) who are guilty until proven innocent and even then they receive no reward for their innocence? The UK family courts are the only courts that reward perjury, false and unsubstantiated allegations against men, foul and abusive behaviour by women towards their children by granting women custody. No wonder they don’t wish to come under public scrutiny. The family court system in the UK is the single most effective factor in promoting childhood delinquency and mental problems by their bias in failing to recognise the fact that both mother and father have an equal role in the child’s life. Please don’t tell me judges are not out of touch – in the family courts they are still in the era of witch dunking

    • Devil's Advocate says:

      How many millions of times does the fact have to be made known that unless there is a change in legislation to engaged parity of responsible parenting, this situation will continue until the sun burns out.
      We just don’t have the moral responsibility with our Parliamentarians to enact such legislation because they are irresponsible dinosaurs and other Latin based nations do understand what is in the best interests of children. We do not.
      Society knows this but Parliamentarians are not especially those within the rabid feminist pink brigade within the two main crooked political parties.

  39. Michael says:

    I have just come across this rather old blog, and am shocked that any legal professional could make such a basic error as the following:

    “The job of the family courts is of course to apply the law and the starting point must therefore be the law, as laid down by Parliament: is this biased? The answer is a simple and resounding “no”. There is nothing in our family law that discriminates against either men or women.”

    Mothers automatically have parental responsibility, fathers in general do not. There is, therefore, quite clearly discrimination against men in our laws.

    • Joe says:

      As a father, I have recently completed my case where I applied to stabilise things for my child by applying to retain residency with me – my child had been with me since a baby. It was a complex case (but overall in my favour to everyone I spoke to – even Cafcass initially), and there were many factors that needed to be considered, including my genuine and evidenced concerns for my child’s well-being with recent changes brought on by interim orders, and should things change further. However, regardless of this, at the final hearing, my (experienced) barrister came to me to report that the court’s legal adviser (a lady) gave an initial opinion to the magistrates, who agreed that regardless of any further information, this should move to ‘shared care’. My barrister (also a lady – of extremely high integrity) light-heartedly, if there is such a thing in these circumstances, guessed without having met them that the panel was made up of elderly female magistrates. She was right. It has been said by my legal team and other professionals I know in the area of children (e.g. teaching) and child protection that in my case, if the situation were reversed, I would have had to fight very hard to get shared care, and yet my ex-wife did not have to say a single thing.

      The family court is sexist to the point of placing children at risk. The unfortunate attitude of the court is to await evidence of damage to children before they will remove bias, which is quite simply illogical and inconsistent with other areas of law. Each case should be a blank canvass, but it is not.

  40. Joe says:

    Testing – I have just tried to reply, and nothing has posted. (Possibly a wasted effort!)

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