Bias against fathers: exercising my right to reply

Family Law|August 17th 2017

OK, so I’ve broken my rule about not reading comments on my posts. I have read the comments on my post here on Monday in which I argued that I am not biased against fathers, as many seem to think. A lot of points were raised in the comments, and I felt that it would be better to respond to them in a post, rather than piecemeal in the comments section. Please note that I am writing this post on Tuesday evening, when there are currently 24 comments on the post, and there is therefore no disrespect if I do not reply here to any subsequent comments.

Please also note that nothing I say here is intended as a personal criticism of any commenter. It is a rule of this blog that personal remarks are a breach of the comments policy, and I will follow that rule in this post.

OK, so where to start?

Well, ‘Mr T’ was the first commenter. He actually began by saying that my post contained ‘fair comments’, so I can’t argue with that. He then goes on to make some suggestions about how the system might be improved. I’m not sure that I agree with those suggestions, but I’m not going to respond here, as the subject of my post was whether I am biased against fathers, rather than about the ways in which the system can be improved (with respect, this is an error of many commenters: writing comments that are not really relevant to the post, in order to get across their own message, which may be nothing to do with the subject of the post).

Commenter ‘Andy’ also falls into this error. The only relevant point he makes is that he thinks the comments I made in my post were made simply to justify the position that I hold. I’m not sure what that position is (I haven’t been practising for eight years), but whatever it is, I feel no need to justify it. The only intention of the post was to put right an apparent misconception.

I move on to commenter ‘Paul’. He seems to think I am blasé about the problems faced by fathers. I don’t know why. Certainly, nothing in my post was intended to be blasé. I have also not said anywhere that problems are really hard to fix, so we shouldn’t bother trying. I did say that sometimes they simply can’t be fixed, but that is just the reality, not complacency. And, as pointed out by the moderator Cameron Paterson, I did say that I have always been open to reasonable suggestions as to how the system may be improved. Just because I may not agree with your suggestion does not mean that my mind is closed to all suggestions. In a later comment Paul says that my argument that I am a father and it would therefore be illogical for me to be biased against fathers is a “Silly hollow argument”. However, he subsequently says: “You are a dad and as such you really should be more sympathetic to team ‘dad’ I would say.” This seems to me to be a non-sequitur. Either I am sympathetic to ‘team dad’ or I am not. Leaving that aside, Paul makes, as Cameron Paterson points out, some sweeping allegations about my career, suggesting that I exploited fathers for financial reward. As Cameron points out, the allegations could just as well be made against any other service provider. I didn’t ‘exploit’ anyone – I just tried to provide a service to all of my clients, no matter who they were.

I am grateful to commenter ‘Johnny’, who does his best to defend me against the tide of opposition. A beacon of common sense 😉.

And finally we have commenter ‘JamesB’. I’m sorry James, but you have written so many comments that I can’t possibly respond to all of them. Perhaps it might be better if you were to just write one comment, succinctly setting out all the points you wish to make that are relevant to my post. Having said that, it seems that the essence of your argument is that you think the system is biased against fathers, and therefore I, as a representative of the system, must be biased. This is another non-sequitur. Even if the system was biased (and I don’t think it is, save to the extent that it reflects how society is generally arranged in favour of mothers looking after children), it does not follow from that that I must be biased. If I felt the system was biased I could quite well be working within it against that bias. And then you say: “To regard non resident fathers as nothing more than a potential source of income as the courts and you do is out of order, bang out of order and very wrong and bad.” Cameron has quite rightly pointed out that I have never said any such thing.

John Bolch often wonders how he ever became a family lawyer. He no longer practises, but has instead earned a reputation as one of the UK's best-known family law bloggers.

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  1. spinner says:

    When you write you lack any form of empathy with the topics you are writing about. It’s would be like me trying to write on the struggles of growing up as an ethnic minority in the inner city as a white male who grew up in the country side. I could do it but it would likely lack any realism as it would be clear I didn’t understand the struggle these people have gone through and it would likely be very offensive to ethnic minorities who grew up in the inner city.

    Given your lack of understanding or seemingly any ability to empathize it would be better if you stopped writing about these topics as you are often very offensive to people who have been through severe trauma and your blase writing style on these topics is, to be honest really disgusting to read.

  2. Paul says:

    Well thanks for responding John. It is in the best spirit of blogging to do so.

    1: I have also not said anywhere that problems are really hard to fix, so we shouldn’t bother trying. I did say that sometimes they simply can’t be fixed, but that is just the reality, not complacency

    Myself and other commentators don’t accept that ‘reality’ John. Nobody has tried to fix it. From my perspective there are loads of differnt solutions. The one we have is possibly the worst one.
    Its like the old wives saying ‘there is no such word as ‘can’t’.
    To say that we have to accept things cannot be fixed is the very deffinition of complaintancy lol.

    2: Even if the system was biased (and I don’t think it is, save to the extent that it reflects how society is generally arranged in favour of mothers looking after children), it does not follow from that that I must be biased. If I felt the system was biased I could quite well be working within it against that bias.

    Thats an achmowledgement that society is bias. Bias in society is what we and especially the courts are responsible for changing no ? –
    Your post do not support the idea you are working within the system and against it. They are almost always in defence of the status quo.
    In the 40’s an 50’s society was generally in favour of women looking after kids. Thats fundimentally not true anymore.
    Walk down any street in England now you will see men pushing prams. You will see men looking after children. You will see men at the school gates and at nursary schools.
    This is the only way we can facilitate women persuing career goals. If men take up more parenting responsabilities.
    Women(femanists) overturned the old order and decided they would like the right to work equally. Equal pay and equal oppertunities.
    As a society we have embraced that. It is becoming a reality.
    In order for that to work effectively men need to be given the right to parent equally. If women have an equal right to work then why should men not have an equal right to parent ?
    You are pressing an old fassioned idea which is nolonger true.

    3. Sweeping statement about your career could only be made because of the bias nature of the system in place. Could easily have been aimed at any other family solicitor.
    However you have put your head above the parapet and wrote some very antagonistic posts towards NRPs or single fathers. A group of people who have been treated torridly by society for decades.
    We are trying to make you aware of issues concerning child support which are putting men in poverty, making them homeless. Trapping grown men at home with there parents and have driven over 4000 to comit suicide. God knows how many more into depression/mental health issues.
    You respond by posting articles clamoring for increased CSA powers.

    These poor John, stop picking on John posts are a bit rich really.

  3. Pauline says:

    Our legal pendulum swings to yet another extreme. Gender bias runs rampant in our family court system. In the 1960’s women, fought hard to get laws passed to protect women against domestic violence. It took many painful years for our legal system to recognize women as victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence, stalking, and sexual harassment laws were passed and enforced to protect “true victims.” Many women lived through domestic violence; many died. Some went to jail for homicide; some were later pardoned. We, as women, finally got society to recognize violence against women.

    Shame on all those women of the 1990’s who now use these laws to their advantage in family courts to bring men to their knees; and to erase fathers from the lives of their children! False allegations by women of child abuse, domestic violence, and stalking are almost never questioned by judges for fear of being politically incorrect.

    Women who feel justified in punishing men use these false charges indiscriminately. Children are forgotten and have become our newest victims with full cooperation from our Family Court system. Children need fathers too.

    Women have become educated in the ways of our legal system. A new study purports women are filing 85% of divorces today. The first person to file usually wins. The unfortunate person against whom false allegations are charged must prove their innocence while a plaintiff proves nothing.

    Today’s women are earning more, and are becoming a majority in our workforce. The stay at home mum of the 50’s rarely exists today.

    False allegations of child abuse by a vengeful ex-wife devastates not only children, but fathers. The wife files first to take advantage of all laws passed to protect true victims of abuse and violence. The wife charges everything from domestic violence to stalking to child abuse. Courts almost always believe a woman over a man today. Family Courts consistently believe, “the mother always makes the best parent.”

    Years ago women had a disadvantage in our domestic courts. Now they can feel quite happy knowing most women win. Yes, we have come a long way. Women can be proud of the laws they fought hard for 30+ years ago. Let us not blaspheme those women who died for the very laws that many women are abusing today. We must stop abusing these laws, or one day our legal pendulum will swing back and our true victims will not be believed again.

    You think you are beating men? You are beating yourself; destroying your children; and making the racketeers in our legal system rich. You are creating a generation of children who think love is conditional and possessive; who learn that violence by proxy and misuse of the law will make you a winner.

    Let’s remember that it is children, not women, who are the real victims of the gender bias in our family courts.

  4. Dolphin says:

    I would like to add to the interesting analogy and hope I can raise a few issues. I have read many of John’s articles and place many with an age perspective, a different generation away from the true reflection upon society. I am of the opinion, that it is every child’s legal right, as per article 8, to hold a real relationship with both parents, not a one sided prehistorical status which is not in any child’s best interest. Sweden has recognised such and countries like Mexico have even outlawed Parental Alienation.

    Regretfully, it is predominately men whom face Parental Alienation and alongside the torment and false accusations, unless you have bucket loads of money, many are doomed and separated.

    I look at the area of family law and it is in total shambles and I think, did a certain minister make it so ? Such a minister advocated adoption and how better to achieve such with no legal aid, no adequate level of social workers to assist with family issues, so hence forth, the goal is achieved of the continued numbers adopted.

    I personally feel, that when ever a case is proved, that parental alienation is shown, legal aid should support the effected parent and the full force of the law and associated professions utilized to root out a most terrible crime.

    It is a hate crime, but thus far, allowed to prevail.

    Family law is far too secretive, unless you have endured the path, society in general is totally unaware.

    We need a system which actually records things, to actually benchmark the outcome of all children.

    How many children have been adopted and then gone onto having a far worse outcome ?

    How many children have been alienated from a loving parent and then gone on to suffer with mental health issues ?

    The system does absolutely nothing to support an effected parent whom is being alienated, realistically, the system is supporting such patterns of behaviour and such is amplified with the massive increase in domestic abuse allegations.

    The actual reality of parenthood needs to be applied equally, unless there are clear grounds to prevent. I do believe, if there are clear grounds to prevent equal parenting, then a plan formed to work to achieve. If the effected parent chooses not to take such assistance, its that parents choice.

    Finally, perhaps John creates sensationalism, it realistically creates more interest and although riles many, justifiably so, this is a commercial platform.

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