Friday, August 28th, 2015
A recent study shows that divorced fathers do not get discrimated by family courts when it comes to access to their children. However, through KNBP’s case studies and research of the experience of many men suggests otherwise. The journalist Glen Poole has helped dads nagivate the complexities of the family court for over a decade. In turn, he too was shocked at the findings. He was shocked as his experiences of repeatedly seeing discrimination against dads and professionals claiming it doesn’t exist, baffled him.
According to the study, in 96 per cent of cases, the parents who apply to court for ?access? to their children are men, with the average case taking between six months and two years to complete. Evidence shows in just under half of these cases, the most common arrangement for dads with their children is every other weekend. Just under a quarter will be restricted to seeing their children in the daytime and the remaining quarter will be given little or no opportunity to be the dad. Provided circumstances were positive, and the dad wanted to be fully involved in their child’s life, is this right? Would it not be fair to say good dads need more than a weekend with their child? According to the University of Warwick, the lead researcher on the project, Dr Maebh Harding, looked at this data and ?concluded that contact applications by fathers were in fact overwhelmingly successful?. However, the basis for this claim is that 88 per cent of dads who applied to court for contact with their kids were awarded some kind of access. For example, 10 per cent were restricted to ?indirect contact? with their children via phone, post or Skype; a further five per cent were only allowed to see their children in the company of a supervisor and 23 per cent were permitted to spend a few daytime hours with their children. Considering this, I would not agree that the contact applications by fathers were ?overwhelmingly successful?. Contact is highly restricted and trust becomes an issue.
This is where the problem lies. Our expectation of the role a separated father should play in his children?s lives is so low, that when half of dads who win ?access? to their kids can?t even sleep under the same roof as their offspring, academics declare this to be an overwhelming success. This should not be acceptable, there should be the need for better shared parenting, with better communication and arrangements. It is not only about the father’s needs but the child’s needs. The child needs stability and quality time from both parents. Would this be deemed acceptable if 96 per cent of women applied to court to see their kids and half of them weren?t allowed to have their children sleep in the same house?
The family courts may well apply their rules fairly, but this is not the point. The main issue for separated dads is that the rules that shape family life in the UK are unfair and unequal and any system of law based on those rules can only ever be biased against men.
KNBP believe that both parents should share responsibility of their child when separated. There should be positive communication, fair arrangements and better relationships. Both parents need to understand that this will only benefit their child.
Let us know what you think and comment on our forum!