Guest blog Post: Hunger 4 Justice

The post that follows is a guest blog post by Nick Langford. Nick is a regular commenter on this blog. He and I have disagreed about many things in the comments threads, but always (I think) in respectful if robust language. I am happy to extend the opportunity to Nick to write a one off post – as per usual I don’t agree with all of it. Nick has asked for a debate, and so to kick it off my comments, are at the end of the post.

Hunger 4 Justice – Nick Langford

I am extremely grateful to Lucy for allowing me to write a guest post on her blog; I hope it will provoke some interesting debate.  We need a debate.

 

On Sunday 10th July Matt O’Connor, the founder of Fathers 4 Justice, commenced a hunger strike outside the house of the Prime Minister, David Cameron.  Such an action is clearly a dramatic departure from the style of campaigning normally associated with F4J, featuring middle-aged men in lycra.  This is campaigning of a more serious, sombre character, and O’Connor’s supporters wore dark suits and black ties.

 

The action was prompted by two factors; the first was Cameron’s failure to honour the commitments made by the Conservatives prior to the Election regarding the family justice system.  The second was Cameron’s Sunday Telegraph article on Father’s Day.

 

The Conservatives’ pledges – not widely reported but presented to F4J in a meeting with Henry Bellingham, Shadow Minister for the DCA – conformed closely to what F4J had been campaigning for.  They began with moving parental disputes out of the courts and promoting early intervention and mediation through “Australian-style” family hubs, a proposal also made by Sandra Davies of Mischcon de Reya and by Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice.

 

There would be a legal presumption in favour of automatic shared parenting within a context of equal parental responsibility and a new definition of cooperative parenting to ensure parents knew clearly what was expected of them before they entered the courts, denying them the option of prolonged litigation.

 

Contact orders would be made enforceable and there would be zero-tolerance of excuses, delay and false allegations, including (controversially) the withdrawal of benefits from parents who unreasonably withheld access.

 

Above all the Conservatives committed themselves to reducing the intolerable cost to the economy caused by family breakdown and prolonged litigation at taxpayers’ expense and to ending the ruinous destruction of children’s aspirations and potential.

 

What impressed F4J was the clear grasp of the issues Bellingham demonstrated, and the work and research which had manifestly gone on behind the scenes.  He promised an urgent and thorough review of family justice with an interim report in the Autumn of 2010.  In an email to F4J on 3rd May Nick Clegg gave his backing to this review.

What the Coalition delivered, however, was a continuation of the very restricted review already set in motion by Labour.  As MP John Hemming expressed in an EDM, the panel was “dominated by the family justice establishment” and failed to “challenge the status quo”.  Sir Paul Coleridge told the charity Care it was concerned only with procedure and not with principle; “The law in this field is in desperate need of comprehensive, root and branch overhaul after prospective – i.e. forward looking – review of family policy by a non political grouping.”

 

The family hubs were reduced to a website and helpline, the promise to remove the requirement for grandparents to apply for leave to make a Section 8 application was dismissed, and the commitment to introduce the presumption that parenting should be shared was rejected.

 

Though the Report met with approval from lawyers’ groups and social workers, it was universally condemned by parents.  Perhaps its worst failing was its refusal to countenance views – plainly submitted to the panel – with which it did not agree, or to grapple seriously with the arguments presented.  The case against a presumption of shared parenting, for example, was provided in Annex P, presented as the Panel’s conclusion, and set against a background of similar conclusions by other writers.  No argument was advanced for the position taken, and the evidence cited was ruthlessly selected to support a position opposed to shared parenting.

 

In a meta-analysis of the available evidence Robert Bauserman (2002) found court-ordered joint custody promoted better child adjustment than sole mother custody. He found no evidence that having to adjust to two households harmed any aspect of a child’s wellbeing, and evidence that joint custody could reduce levels of parental conflict over time.  In a survey of over 100 studies Linda Nielson (2010) concluded “the research is abundantly clear on this: only allowing fathers and children to live together 15 or 20 percent of the time is not in most children’s best interests.  Our society and our legal system can – and must – do better than this”. These surveys, and the studies they are based on, were omitted from the Interim Report.

 

On Father’s Day Cameron wrote, “We need to make Britain a genuinely hostile place for fathers who go AWOL.  It’s high time runaway dads were stigmatised, and the full force of shame was heaped upon them.  They should be looked at like drink drivers, people who are beyond the pale.”

 

Cameron believes the epidemic of family breakdown and fatherlessness – which no one denies – is driven by irresponsible fathers abandoning their families.  Fathers 4 Justice believe it has been driven by decades of anti-family legislative change and by the family courts themselves.

 

Following the Russian Revolution the Bolsheviks introduced unilateral divorce, the separation of sex and child-bearing from marriage, the legalisation of abortion, the legal equivalence of marriage and cohabitation and the approval of formerly outlawed sexual behaviour such as adultery, homosexuality and even polygamy.  Family life almost ceased to exist, 7 million homeless children, the besprizorniki, roamed the streets, joined gangs and sold themselves for sex.  Society lost its capacity to sustain itself: when crises struck there was no family to turn to for support.

 

Ideologues are trying the experiment again.  We have the highest rate of youth crime in Europe, the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world, an epidemic of abortion.  Unlike Russia we have a welfare state which we expect to pay for it all, but already our welfare bill has exceeded income tax receipts.  The situation is not sustainable.

 

Cameron’s evasion is criminally irresponsible.  There is no evidence to support his position.  A study of non-resident fathers by Jonathan Bradshaw of York University concluded, “There is no need to enforce parental obligations – they exist and are accepted already.”  They just need to be enabled.  “Financial obligations cannot be imposed.  They have to be negotiated in the context of other issues – contact, property, capital.”  The capacity of fathers to pay more child support is over-estimated; Cameron’s policies are unlikely to extract more money, but they will cause hardship and erode contact.

 

Fathers 4 Justice spent 3 years doing what people asked.  We did the political dialogue.  We did the talking.  But it is now time to hold David Cameron to account over his comments, and over the promises made last year to reform family law.  We are no longer prepared to live in a country that treats fathers as drink drivers, as cashpoints, that thinks it tolerable to allow children to be separated from a parent.  This demonisation of fathers is as wicked as racism or sexism, and it is more dangerous because it has become acceptable.  And David Cameron is its cheerleader.

 

O’Connor says, “Perhaps the only way he is going to understand the pain, the misery and the suffering being inflicted on parents separated from their children… is for us to bring the campaign home to him, to his home: from my home to his home, father to father.”

 

Lucy’s Comments (Familoo)

Ok, let’s get this debate started. Shall I play devil’s advocate?

This is the first I’ve heard of the Bellingham pledges, and I must say I’m surprised that such apparently concrete pledges would be made (and given credence) in the context of the Family Justice Review that by then had already been announced and was creaking into action. Personally, I’d have taken such pledges with a spoonful of salt myself, but then I’m not predisposed to trusting the Tories.

In any event, once in office they endorsed the FJR. It has now reported – on an interim basis – but I am slightly mystified by cries of “Betrayal!” at this juncture. There will be a final report in the autumn. It may reach different conclusions. It’s conclusions may be accepted by the coalition. They may not. Legislation may follow. It may not. But my gut reaction is that it might be a little premature to put the padlock on the O’Connor’s cookie jar: they’ll need all their energy for the several hurdles ahead. I would have focussed on a response to the interim FJR report and a response to whatever final recommendations come out of it. If at that stage the pledges are not honoured then they should complain.

I doubt that the FJR interim report was universally condemned by parents. I am sure that it will have been roundly condemned by some groups of parents, or by some campaigning groups.

I doubt also that the Bolshevik analogy is of much assistance to anyone. I’m no social historian, but the parallels seem limited to me.

I agree that the tendency to demonise fathers is to be decried (and I wrote about that after the unfortunate Father’s Day remarks by the PM). I wonder though at the wisdom of an approach that says in effect – “We’ve behaved like grown-ups for three years and you’ve still not given in to our demands. So now we’re going to play up again.” Engagement in dialogue is only likely to be fruitful if it is entered into wholeheartedly and in good faith – just like mediation between ex partners, it will either fail or produce unfair results unless all parties respect the fact that there is more than one perspective. You’ve got to take part in the process to come out with an agreement (one weakness of mediation though, is that sometimes the bully does gets what s/he wants, and the vulnerable party gives in for a quiet life – is that a paradigm that is either desirable or applicable here?).

I struggle with the idea that the kind of theatrical actions that F4J is now engaging in (albeit more serious on one level, particularly for the O’Connor family) are really evidence of a matured organisation – the lounge suits are a means of dressing up what remains in essence a petulant act of foot stamping. It might now be a law abiding stunt, but I wonder if it will enhance the ability of fathers’ rights groups to achieve political and legal change or drag it backwards. The danger is that it will damage the legitimate political capital that F4J have worked over recent years to acquire.

54 thoughts on “Guest blog Post: Hunger 4 Justice

  1. Through the Centre for Social Justice and their sensible and rational reports, “Breakdown Britain” and subsequent analyses of so-called “Family breakdown” and the role played by the legal system it should be clear to everyone that the PROBLEM is that the legal system creates a dysfunctional Family where there existed a Family which was in distress and in need of assistance.

    Both Spouses of a Family founded on Marriage entering the Family law courts have a duty to Reconcile any differences between them that might threaten the stability and/or continuance of the Family as a unit. Before the various Family Law Reform Acts enacted in the past fifty years these differences were accepted (by our Chief Justice) as “normal wear and tear of Family life”. We got over them – because we had to – and moved on to either a better relationship or a tolerable one. We did this by both spouses having to compromise.

    The stability shown by every study of the Family founded on Marriage is not based on the fact that people stay together because they “get on”. It is based on the reality that people “get on” because they know they have to stay together.

    The various Family Law Reform Acts enacted in the past fifty years are an insidious means of allowing the more vulnerable and willful spouse to avoid the compromise that they signed up to when they got Married.

    Cameron and the Conservatives promised that they would return the law and society to the pre-reform days when Spouses were held to the contract they signed up. As for children the primary purpose of Marriage – as reminded to everyone by the Royal wedding – is for the ordered procreation and education of children. The two Spouses become one flesh in legal terminology and neither Spouse can involve a third party without the consent of the other.

    This is what makes the Family founded on Marriage recognised in the Irish Constitution, “as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.”

    The State, therefore, “guarantees to protect the Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State and pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack.”

    The state is clearly negligent and all Matt is doing is requiring the State to act lawfully. How can anyone oppose that?

    Well done Matt and Fathers4Justice.

    God Bless, Roger Eldridge
    Chairman, National Mens Council of Ireland
    Executive Director, Family Rights and Responsibilities Institute of Ireland
    National Office: Knockvicar, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
    Website: http://www.family-men.com Email: familymen@eircom.net
    Telephones: 00353 (0) 7196-67138 00353 (0) 83-3330256

    NMCI – “Doing what men have always done … protecting their Families, Faith and Freedom from attack by the State”

  2. Well, I do agree with the goals of F4J. The most important point is that the Government have done nothing yet and Cameron’s comments were very poor and inflamatory. He should apologise or certainly clarify them. He has certainly, as things stand lost my vote because of them and I don’t think I am the only one.

    I do believe the Communism analogy is an apropriate one.

    Wrt Bellingham, I did receive an e-mail from my local Conservatives association just before the General Election advising me of these pledges and for F4J to vote Conservative in their drive for an overall majority and to get every possible vote out. I did not believe them then and do not now. If they scrap the CSA then I may vote for them, otherwise not.

    Wrt behaving badly, an example is Cafcass, they (F4J) did advise men to withdraw their support as they had some positive engagement. I subsequently found Cafcass was worse (anti men bias and lacking in professionalism or thought) than ever and very poor.

    To show balance though, I did discuss with Anne Begg the lack of Male (especially NRP) representation to the select committee on child maintenance. Her reply was that F4J, FnF or any NRP organisations did provide any response or input into the consultation process. Given that little old me, did even reply in full this was unfortunate.

    Still, I remember they all replied to the Henshaw report in full and in detail saying why was a bad report and the only part quoted was 1 line in 20 pages saying that FnF supported the maintenance disregard.

    A very unfortunate situation and I think all of family law and AR and child maintenance law since 1972 has been bloody awful quite frankly. As a minimum, please scrap the CSA and put the matter back to the courts. Then we might have more families as I agree with David Cameron we should have.

    Don’t blame the NRPs, they are not absent through choice, but because of the Government’s feminist policies since 1972 on this issue. It is poor form to look for scapegoats. We’ve had rascism, sexism, anti single parent’ism, now we have NRPism. David Cameron should apologise, scrap the CSA put child maintenance back to the Courts and then we might have some progress and proper politics and he should gain a few votes in the process. He certainly would get mine. I agree with Matt. It is certainly an extreamly worthy and valid protest.

  3. Lol. Yes.

  4. …”the lounge suits are a means of dressing up what remains in essence a petulant act of foot stamping. It might now be a law abiding stunt, but I wonder if it will enhance the ability of fathers’ rights groups to achieve political and legal change or drag it backwards. The danger is that it will damage the legitimate political capital that F4J have worked over recent years to acquire.”

    Lucy – I totally agree with that sentiment.

    I really struggle to see how someone starving themselves is the right way to promote this very worthy cause.

  5. Well, the NRPs are revolting. I for one (sorry to my girlfriend) am on a marriage strike. I know of at least three other men doing this also. I will also ensure that none of my (5) children get married as the law stands is rubbish and written by the feminazis. You can laugh if you like. Most have stopped laughing and are now upset that the marriage rate is so low. Things need to change. What is it they say in America, “Wake up and smell the Coffee!”. So something like that.

    • It’s a shame that you feel the need to be derogatory about feminism (and about feminists, of which I am but one of many – both male and female), which is about equality rather than doing down men.

  6. From my point of view this debate is no longer productive or worthwhile. So, I will leave it now, trying to get the last word in between me and familoo ;-). Regards, Graham.

  7. Nick Langford

    @ Lucy: we are aware that the Bellingham pledges are not well known and were not well publicised at the time, but we do have a very good paper trail. As for the grain of salt, it is possible to be cynical about all election commitments made by political parties, but if they get voted into power on the basis of those commitments, it is only fair that they be held to account if the commitments are then abandoned.

    I don’t think the protest is premature; we could wait for the FJR full report, and wait for the Government’s response, and wait for new legislation (if any) and wait for the outcome of that legislation, and wait for academic analysis of that outcome, etc, etc. But we would be years further down the line. The Conservatives had analysed the situation, they knew what needed to be done, they pledged to do it and they have failed even to begin. They have accepted the FJR which Labour started – having said before the Election that its remit was inadequate – and are using it to create delay. Labour did the same when in power: wait for this, wait for that, and in the mean time seek to undermine and discredit the campaign. But we all know they had no intention of actually doing anything useful. The time for waiting has passed.

    I used the Bolshevik analogy as the only other occasion I am aware of where a very similar social experiment has been attempted based on the same ideology. It is also the only occasion when a country has got itself out of that sort of mess, and that should provide us with a useful lesson.

    I don’t agree we’re ‘playing up’ again, or petulantly stamping our feet; that trivialises a very serious campaign. We have taken part in the ‘process’ for the last 3 years and it has got us nowhere, the FJR is a whitewash and has not addressed our concerns (made in a 1,000 page submission) seriously – we could engage in the ‘process’ for the next century and it would have the same effect: no one is listening. You only have to look at Families Need Fathers: we don’t want government funding, or tea and jammy dodgers in the House of Commons; we want an end to experimentation on the nation’s children.

    I too deplore the use of words like Feminazi – which F4J banned from its forums years ago – but we must distinguish between the sort of feminists who believe in equality (do we really need a special word for them?) and those who don’t, who hate men and boys, bang on about the patriarchal hegemony and want an end to marriage and the nuclear family.

    @ Michael: so what is the right way to promote this very worthy cause?

  8. I disagree, I do not think men and women are the same. It’s like saying a pen is the same as a pencil, they are similar, but they are not the same.

  9. Whatever Bellingham promised F4j, he is a politician, and was after votes.

    You only had to listen to what Cameron said about the subject to campaigner Jeff Skinner, in his question and answers session during the election, to understand what was going to happen to Bellingham’s reform document, there’s a video on youtube of the whole thing somewhere which I watched at the time, I found this article which quotes part of his response.

    http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/David-Cameron-turns-attack-Bristol-s-education-record/story-11257144-detail/story.html
    Snippet “Jeff Skinner, a New Fathers 4 Justice campaigner, asked Cameron if he would give dads 50/50 contact in cases of separation and divorce. Mr Cameron said: “If it gets to court, you have to allow the court to make a decision. What I hope is that fewer cases will have to go to court. We need more family mediation, more agreements.”

    No mention of changing presumptions there, I remember Cameron saying something like, “I am going to disappoint you, you guys will not be getting what you want”, he is savvy enough to known that supporting family law reform is a hot potato and not a vote winner for the mumsnet brigade.

    Thankfully Nick’s post didn’t include attacks on feminism, although the conspiracy theorists in the movement could take comfort with a few references to Marxist policies.

    I fear the movement will never be taken seriously with the attacks on feminism and the Marxism references along with other ‘dark forces at play’ David Icke type theories, just by reading comments left by F4j supporters here, the disjointed arguments get lost in translation, diluted and regurgitated into thinly veiled misogyny.

    The arguments must be water tight and fact based, delivered credibly and centered around the vast research that kids do better when both loving parents are fully involved in their upbringing, no one can argue against that where there are no welfare concerns.
    There’s no debate with me that best way of enshrining that in law is to have a rebuttable legal presumption of equal parenting, the overriding paramount presumption of best interest is so vague when deciding on court ordered contact when ‘how often, how soon and how long’, is a lottery as the judiciary have no guidance to follow.

    I can see how F4j has tried to clean up their act to present a more ‘grown up’ campaign, but think the hunger strike smells of desperation, many who have studied the F4j leader can see through the campaign as one man’s hunger 4 publicity, which is a shame for the campaigners like Nick who donate their time and effort to make a difference.

    Nick accused f4j splinter groups of being humourless last year in comments on the family lore blog, well now the humour and irony has gone from F4j, what’s left is a shell, bereft of the energy and enthusiasm that comes from new blood and fresh ideas, they just haven’t learnt from their past mistakes.

    Thankfully there are still a few groups pulling colourful stunts around the country to keep the issues alive in the press, if a little cack handedly, how much better could they be with a bit of experience and marketing expertise?

    As it stands now F4j ignore every other group, take pot shots and attack groups with broadly the same aims, they remove facebook posts they don’t agree with, they attack the fathers that once climbed bridges with f4j banners and class them as the ‘dark underbelly’, yet hypocritically ask them to help out when they organise a static demo, all the more surprising Nick chose to post and debate here, when F4j have no moderation controls and cannot remove content they find disagreeable, that is to Nick’s credit and should make it a little more interesting.

    Most worryingly F4j recently launched a series of blistering attacks on a charity that help separated fathers, Families need fathers (Fnf) has very different aims from F4j, they provide practical advice for fathers, they hold regional meetings where members can gain mutual support face to face. F4j should be actively recruiting there, but short sighted Matt has a grudge with someone so off he goes on one, making himself look even more ridiculous (if that was possible).

    The campaign needs activists, the protests, the colour, the shock value, the headlines.

    It also needs a political wing that can credibly make the arguments once the activists give them the spotlight, surely by networking with likeminded groups and individuals, being inclusive of other ideas in a joined up united movement is the way forward?

    However much I want to support this action, I just can’t bring myself to, as it is so sad to see what was such a great idea in 2002 lose so much credibility and direction.

    An idea that fired the imagination of the press, inspired countless fathers into activism and into lycra, it now falls so short of the mark and all that is left is a name and a egotistical has been.

    I once read F4j commentator describe F4j as “The mouse that roared” I find that quite apt.
    The issues are still seen as marginal, the campaigners seen as somehow deserving of their fate, unless directly affected, the public largely do not have a clue nor are interested.

    An anti war demo attracts thousands of supporters; Matt’s demo on Sunday managed about 40.

    Looked like a lot of new faces, and got a good bit of regional press, which is something positive I suppose?

    Perhaps if O’Connor does the right thing, maybe fake his own death from starvation and then actually hand over the reins of F4j to a more forward thinking leader, rather than shutting up shop again (for the 5th or 6th time? )after this swansong, then maybe a more joined up inclusive approach could be sought?

    Out of all the campaigning sites calling for reforms in family law, one of the most credible for me is the Custody Minefield, I saw Mike Robinson deliver a powerpoint recently and he is a powerful campaigner, he sets out the arguments best in the relocation campaign.
    http://www.relocationcampaign.co.uk/Arguments_for_Reform.html

    That campaign supported by Geldof seems to have made progress after the MK v CK judgement this week, F4j should take a leaf out of his book.

  10. ah yes; pesky feminists ruining the lovely pre-lapsarian world in which we should live. if they would just shut up and do as they are told, it would all be so much simpler … which kinda strikes me as being the position of the fathers lobby. i just keep wondering why all these relationships broke down.

  11. Well, they say women are better at english and men at maths.

    If something equals something, then it is the same, else it is not.

    • Another foible of certain parts of the fathers “equality” lobby is the tendency to try and express family life in terms of a mathematical equation, to reduce the complexity of family relationships to 50% plus 50% = fair.
      Many many people are better at maths than I, but as you well know equality in the context in which it was being used is not a mathematical concept. Equality of status does not require identikit people.

  12. Bojan Timotijevic

    I’ve read Nick’s post (like it), I haven’t read the subsequent discussion (tired, you see), but comment no. 16 caught my eye. The “complexity” of family relationships is not a mathematical concept, and I very much doubt those dads who have been pushed out of their kids lives would see it as such. However, a dad/child relationship (where the dad has been fully involved in a child’s life before separation) IS a VERY simple concept, unnecessarily complicated by the (rusting and seized up) nuts and bolts of the family judiciary.

    With regards to Matt O’Connor, to me he comes across as slightly narcissistic hence a bit irritating, however in this instance I totally agree with his objective; before David Cameron was elected, he was making all the right noises about overhauling family law. He failed to deliver, and the “absent dads should be stigmatised” interview in the Telegraph was the last straw.

    ‘night all! 🙂

  13. Equality is a mathematical concept.

  14. @ Nick and Melvin. I see no problem with using the word Feminazi. Using it does not make one a misogynist, quite the opposite in fact.

  15. You argue for equality when it suits you but not where it doesn’t (shared parenting), that approach gives feminism a bad name, feminazism.

    • You don’t see any problem with equating an argument for equality (which you seem to align yourself with ONLY where it is in relation to equality for men) with fascism? OK. Well I have a problem with it. This is meant to be a respectful debate, not a slanging match and feminazi remarks have no place on this blog. I will not allow any more offensive comments along those lines through moderation.

      You will not find me arguing on this blog against shared parenting, quite the contrary in fact.

      I struggle to understand the logic of your position which appears to be that equality is a mathematical concept. Women are pens not pencils, therefore cannot be equal. But men are equal. I think you use the term “equality” like an “on – off” switch – as if equality for one sex is incompatible with equality for the other.

  16. Last comment was at familoo.

  17. Why has Lucy attributed to Nick Langford in direct quotation marks “We’ve behaved like grown-ups for three years and you’ve still not given in to our demands. So now we’re going to play up again” when that is NOT what Nick Langford is saying, nothing like it at all.

    Typical of the ‘poor downtrodden women’ brigade to falsely attribute either words or actions of a man to suit their agenda.

    Simple point; If the mother can bring home ANY MAN she chooses to live with her and the children, no questions asked and no court applications required, then the natural father who once lived with the children should have the legal right to see his kids UNLESS he has actually done something wrong to a child. End of.

    But of course, that would involve a degree of ocasional enforcement on mothers and I dare say Lucy subscribes to the view that women are always victims and should be beyond punishment, no matter what they do.

    Visit http://www.dadsuk.com to see how many child killers and abusers are female-and how many unfit mothers bring killer men into their childrens homes and lives.

    • The guest blog post is prefaced with a reference to respectful debate. Again, can I remind commenters to remain respectful. I don’t think your comment passes the “respectful” test, and I will not allow further similar comments through moderation.

      In response to your remarks:

      I think it’s clear from the comment that I am not attributing the words in quotation marks to Nick Langford, but characterising the approach of F4J as it appears to me to come across.

      There are no poor downtrodden women around here, but it seems there are a few misogynists at large.

      As far as I am aware, in this country any parent, male or female, is entitled to begin a new relationship and to cohabit with their partner. And any parent genuinely or seriously concerned about the welfare of their child or of risks arising from the new partner is entitled to make an application to court or to refer the matter to social services. Is your position that women should not be permitted the same sexual autonomy as men?

      You correctly point out that fathers’ rights to contact with their children does unfortunately require enforcement sometimes (in fact it is the child’s right to contact with both parents but let’s not split hairs) and if you read more widely than this post you will often see me arguing for better enforcement and in support of father’s relationship with their children. I would never make the kind of sweeping generalisation that you have, or suggest that either all women are victims or that they should be beyond punishment. However I have met (and represented) many male and female victims who deserve protection, and many recalcitrant mothers and fathers who deserve a bit of punishment.

      You correctly identify that there is statistical evidence that shows a higher risk of harm from step-parents, but I note that you do not seek to cast any responsibility on the male perpetrators of those criminal acts, nor on the absent or disinterested fathers (they are not always absent against their will, although I accept they are often excluded / pushed out).

      I think there are probably other forums where you will be more likely to get the pat on the back for your nasty remarks that you are so evidently seeking.

  18. The problem with blogs like this is when it is taken over by those who are opposed to the Family founded on Marriage exercising its rights. They insist that we talk about red herrings like “equality” and make us believe that it is a fundamental right. None exists. However the right to family privacy and the authority of the family is a fundamental right. So is the right to Marry and found a Family.
    Once a family has been founded the State has no right to interfere by taking the side of one spouse against the other – except where one of the Spouses has deserted the Family and placed themselves outside of the Family unit.
    The State/Courts then has a legitimate role of protecting the deserted spouse and making the deserter pay.
    Cameron talks about men who have deserted their families BUT none of the various Family Law Reform Acts enacted in the past fifty years establish “desertion” so who is he talking about?
    The Children Act abandoned the actual law of the Family by allowing a Spouse (almost always the Wife) to grab the children and gain a court order “settling” them with her. The other Spouse, (by definition the Husband or provider) is then “deemed” to be the deserter without any trial of the matter and ordered to pay maintenance to the Wife for the education and welfare of the children and her.
    There is and always has been a BAR against a deserter being awarded maintenance for themselves. By ignoring there being a test for desertion these so-called various Family Law Reform Acts enacted in the past fifty years have the effect of promoting desertion and benefiting the deserter. This creates havoc as one of the important maxims of law is that “the wrongdoer must not benefit”
    Until courts apply the law of the family and protect the deserted Spouse justice will never take place and Families will be violated for the benefit of the legal profession and those in the State who want control over Families and even the extermination of families.

    God Bless, Roger Eldridge
    Chairman, National Mens Council of Ireland
    Executive Director, Family Rights and Responsibilities Institute of Ireland
    National Office: Knockvicar, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
    Website: http://www.family-men.com  Email: familymen@eircom.net               
    Telephones: 00353 (0) 7196-67138           00353 (0) 83-3330256

    NMCI – “Doing what men have always done … protecting their Families, Faith and Freedom from attack by the State”

    • 1 Your comment completely misrepresents the law, on this planet at least.
      2 I think your position is that there should be no state protection or support for those fleeing domestic abuse since they’ve made their marital bed and must lie in it. Progressive.
      3 Which makes it unsurprising that you think that equality is a red herring.

      The blog has not been taken over by anyone. It is run by someone who disagrees with pretty much everything you say though.

  19. I think you are arguing that it is ok for men and women to behave amorally with no regard to blame in divorce. I do not agree with the Irish chap’s POV on this. At the same time I struggle with your approach also.

    On balance I side with you, although I wouldn’t put much by that as, I note that you are a family law barrister, and it is given the caveat below and that all other things being equal, which is not the case. Given the proviso that we have shared parenting presumption and enforced contact orders.

    Otherwise I think this is not progress but feminazism where men are excluded from the home, a bit sad that (English understatement) and not progressive, hence the subject of this post and the protests. I look at my family over the last 50 years and there is not one successful marriage there. I look at my partners family and they all married foreign nationals. So much for progress.

  20. Quite simply I can’t see how you can argue no fault divorce and no to shared parenting and enforceable contact orders. that does not make sense.

    As they said in the Lords (Northbourne, cross bench pier), on the human fertilisation and embroyology bill, “on one hand the Government are saying that a child needs a father to pay maintenance, and on the other it is saying that a child has no genetic need for a father, these positions are contradictory”. Your position does not make sense.

    You either argue for no fault divorce and shared parenting (which I do) or with Roger. You take your choice. It is not fair to have it both ways and you will destroy what you hold dear the more you try then we end up down the line with Roger’s laws and or Islamic fundamentalism, which neither of us want after you fail. not what I want for my children.

    The Taliban kicked our buts in Afghanistan (note you weren’t on the front line), they seem to have a workable solution. Your (England and Wales Family Law) courts are not.

    You may well cut this post and others. It does show the quality of your argument.

  21. I agree with Bojan.

  22. You want me on that wall! You need me on that wall! ;-).

  23. Quote courtesy of Colonel Jessop from the film A Few Good Men.

    Ctl F it from the below.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104257/quotes

    Regards,

    Graham.

  24. Quote courtesy of Colonel Jessop from the film A Few Good Men. Think he lost in Court, lol.

    Ctl F(ind) it from the below link.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104257/quotes

    Regards,

    Graham.

  25. lol, no, misrepresentation, that’s what barristers do.

    You either believe in equality or you don’t. I do and I am a feminist, you don’t and you are not.

    I have 2 daughters I hold very precious and dear to my heart. I think you are a feminazi.

    I’ll put this simply for you :

    If you don’t believe in shared parenting you do not believe in equality between men and women.

    Now, please explain how that is mis-representing your position. You are beginning to wind me up – if we were in court the Judge would tell me I have lost because I have started shouting (shame on him – or her).

    • Sprinkling “lol” around doesn’t render a remark funny.
      I do believe in equality and am a feminist. As I have also already said I support shared parenting and equality between men and women.
      I’m winding you up by disagreeing with you?

  26. As you cannot reason with people who don’t use reason, I don’t think there is much I can contribute to assist with the ‘feminazi’ debate – only to say that it provides an excellent and near infallible filter mechanism. If someone descends to that level, I can quite happily ignore anything they have to say, secure in the knowledge that what motivates them is personal bitterness and misogyny only.

  27. Roger, in your first comment you said
    “We got over them – because we had to – and moved on to either a better relationship or a tolerable one. We did this by both spouses having to compromise”
    While that may have been the case in some relationships, (and of course it is still the case in a great many relationships that the partners *do* negotiate and compromise and work to make their relationships sucessful) that kind of moving on is only possible where **both** parties concerned are able and willing to compromise. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases people don’t (and didn’t) move on at all.
    Where does your scenario leave the party who is willing to compromise, to try to work at the relationship, where they have a spouse who is unwilling to do so, or unable even to accept that there is a problem within the relationship?
    Where does it leave the partner who is assaulted or subjected to abuse by his or her spouse? Should they simply tolerate the abuse? Should they be expected to “compromise” by submitting even to the most irrational demand made by their spouse in order to “keep the peace”?
    That does not lead to a ‘better’ or to a ‘tolerable’ relationship. It leads to a distorted relationship where one party has all (or almost all) the power and control, and the other simply has to try to put up with it because they are unable to change it.

    If your own marriage has been one in which you and your wife have always been able to work through any difficulties then I am very happy for you, but sadly a lot of people are not in that position.

    Mark you said
    “Simple point; If the mother can bring home ANY MAN she chooses to live with her and the children, no questions asked and no court applications required, then the natural father who once lived with the children should have the legal right to see his kids UNLESS he has actually done something wrong to a child. End of.”
    I would see these as two separate issues. Firstly, EITHER parent, once a relationship is over, has the right to start a new relationship and to live with whomever they wish. Ideally, they will be sensitive in how and when they introduce that new partner to the children.
    On a separate issue, a child has a right to have a relationship with BOTH her parents – again, in a ideal world this would happen automatically, in practice, it often needs enforcement.

  28. And while I’m at it, if you are going to prevent me from seeing my children, please do not expect me to pay for it in maintenance.

    One thing, to calm things down and be more constructive. The Family Justice Review does actually recommend that where contact is unreasonably witheld then maintenance should be also.

    The sticking point of course what is reasonable. Usually the Judges (and Cafcass) regard every other weekend as reasonable. Usually loving fathers such as me think that is rubbish and that there should be a presumption of shared parenting then we go from there, in terms of money and time. Works for the Danish, Swedish, and many others. Our model doesn’t work and causes further family breakdown by chldren being brought up without a proper male, father role model. Instead they get dodgy step parents who treat them badly and perpetuate the problem with the backing of the courts and the feminazis.

  29. One thing I am not clear on familoo. Are you for or against a presumption of shared contact in the Family Courts? We may be disagreeing over nothing. I am not sure you have made your position clear on that.

  30. Can we return to the subject in hand. What Cameron promised was for the courts to go back to the position where they had jurisdiction.
    As a barrister you must acknowledge that there is no jurisdiction to apply “equality” in a marriage. In law the Family founded on Marriage is seen as a unit, as a private institution like a club or a private company with its own constitution and authority. The state/public has no interest and is not a parent.
    The state’s interest is simply “to facilitate the better functioning and continuance of the Family as a unit”
    Where a Spouse abandons their duty to put the Family unit before their own self-interest the State can be asked by the deserted spouse to recognise that the new family unit now exists without the deserter. Whereas control of the Family assets created since the Marriage took place rests with the Husband and Wife making decisions jointly, this declaration of desertion by one of the Spouses by the State/court legally places control of these family assets in the hands of the deserted Spouse on their own. Any attempt after that by the deserter to interfere with the new Family is unlawful and can be controlled by the use of a Barring Order (This is the only rational and legal rationale for such “Domestic Violence” orders)
    A court does not have jurisdiction to give control of the family assets – including the most precious, the children – to either Spouse unilaterally unless there is a finding by the court that the Spouse losing control has deserted.
    Proof of desertion flows from the fact that every Spouse is under the duty to Reconcile any differences that might threaten the stability or integrity of the Family unit. Proof of desertion is achieved by providing as evidence to the court a letter asking the deserter to resume co-habitation and consortium and there being a failure by the respondent Spouse to do so.

    Without such evidence the court does not have jurisdiction to make an order for the Respondent to pay money towards the maintenance of the other Spouse.

    This law worked successfully for hundreds of years and is common sense. A return to it would end all claims of injustice and bias by the courts. The so-called “welfare checklist” is devoid of any reference to which of the Spouses has ended the marriage by their misconduct and so completely fails to vindicate the rights of the children who retain their right to be brought up in a Family (now the deserted Spouse and children).

    Furthermore the court has no jurisdiction to deprive a deserted spouse of any family assets. This can only happen “lawfully” where a deserted Spouse is tricked by their lawyer into accepting the desertion of the other Spouse and not making any claim themself.

    God Bless, Roger Eldridge
    Chairman, National Mens Council of Ireland
    Executive Director, Family Rights and Responsibilities Institute of Ireland
    National Office: Knockvicar, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
    Website: http://www.family-men.com Email: familymen@eircom.net
    Telephones: 00353 (0) 7196-67138 00353 (0) 83-3330256

    NMCI – “Doing what men have always done … protecting their Families, Faith and Freedom from attack by the State”

    • I do not recognise your description of the legal environment in which the family operates, but I very much hope that the scenario you describe never comes to pass.

  31. What do you recognise as the court’s jurisdiction to involve itself with a Family founded on Marriage? On what basis do you believe the court can supervise a Family founded on Marriage?

  32. You seem to be saying that as long as the women and children are happy, then that is equality and fine. That argument does not make sense. You have no place for men in the policies that you propose. Like the Government (for example with the CSA).

    In your utopia the woman has the kids and the money and the house and you forget about the bloke. Not a very endearing image of feminism or equality imho. Hence why so many are voting with their point and not getting married.

    It doesn’t wind me up that you disagree with me, it winds me up that you do not propose any workable solution other than arguing against the likes of the way things were in the 1950s or Roger’s view or my view or the Taliban’s view.

    Reminds me of my ex-wife. You want this bit and that bit and that bit but not this bit, etc. from marriage. What you propose is not workable as you casually disregard the men.

    You can’t legislate people to behave the way you want them to. That is the marxist point. You can’t stop men being put of by feminism and the courts and not marrying. You can’t marry them against their will with a co-habitation bill; that would stop men and women living together.

    I think it’s time you come up with an idea that doesn’t involve Dad living in the gutter and paying maintenance while the ex sleeps with Uncle Bob who brings up children that he can’t see.

    Shared parenting has been suggested as a way out of the impasse and the horrendous situation I have illustrated (talking from personal experience). Yet you provide no suggestions but to poo poo men, no, not a shining example of feminism and hence my 1st point.

    Lol, yes. Until your brand of feminists (whatever you want to call them) comes up with a workable idea, Please, we are sinkinging with this broken society as Cameron says. He doesn’t suggest anything either.

    The way things are going people won’t be married and your women and children will be completely unprotected, like you that is what I do not want. We want the same thing yet you suggest nothing. That is what winds me up.

    The preference to women and children where douby exists in the Ancillary Relief law / Matrimonial Clauses Act is also another shining example of this inequality and unfairness that you promote as equality.

  33. Voting with their feet I meant.

    And before you go on about you supporting contact, in practice you are suggesting every other weekend contact, and that is rubbish and I find it deeply insulting to suggest it is a sufficient role for a father.

  34. lucy

    armed with your poor tools of logic and reason you will never convince those wielding the lethal combination of sexism, religion and the superhuman ability to insert their fingers in their ears and repeat ‘i’m right – god says so; you’re a feminazilalalalalalalalala’.
    simples.
    sarah at 37 sets out a test so simple and effective it should be in the cpr.

  35. Lucy – I’d stick to blawging if I were you!

  36. Statute is there to be interpreted within the principles of law. What do you think they are?

    For what good reason can a court draw a line in the sand in a marriage and allocate the family assets (including the children) to one of the spouses?

  37. The “hunger strike” lasted a week. It was a shameful and pathetic attention grab, mostly ignored, but treated like a victory by F4J goons.

    Interestingly, Nick Langford is no longer associated with F4J.

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