Making life difficult for non-resident parents is a form of coercive control, a fathers group has claimed in a response to draft legislation.
The Domestic Abuse Scotland Bill, currently under consideration by Hollyrood would outlaw behaviour deemed to be “abusive of the person’s partner or ex-partner”. Its provisions include so-called ‘coercive control’ – i.e. threats, intimidation, bullying or excessive efforts to monitor or circumscribe a partner’s behaviour. Such activiities are already illegal south of the border.
Despite a popular perception that coercive control is something only done by men to women, Families Need Fathers (FNF) Scotland believes the bill would also apply to the behaviour of some mothers with care towards non-resident fathers.
“From the perspective of the individuals who ask for our help FNF Scotland gives a qualified welcome to the Bill’s proposal to create ‘a new offence of abusive behaviour towards a person’s partner or ex-partner covering both physical violence and non-physical abuse.’ “
The group cites examples of behaviour by angry and vengeful parents with care towards to non-resident parents that could qualify as coercive control. These include:
*Refusing to communicate except via solicitors – or refusing to do so at all.
*Repeatedly making last minute, disruptive changes to previously agreed contact arrangements.
*Failing to consult the non-resident parent about holiday plans.
*Criticising or undermining the other parent to the children.
*Obstructing contact arrangements.
And perhaps most seriously:
“Making unfounded allegations about a range of matters both trivial and potentially criminal to professionals putting the non-resident parent in the position that he is under constant pressure to prove his worth as a parent.”
An eventual Domestic Abuse Scotland Act could help alienated fathers seek legal redress the group suggests.
National Manager Ian Maxwell explained:
“At present non-resident parents experiencing coercive control feel unprotected by the law. If they report it to police they are told ‘There’s nothing we can do. It’s a civil matter’. Or if there is a court order in place the only option is the slow, unpredictable and expensive route of raising a contempt of court action.”