Shameful indeed

I see F4J have launched yet another campaign (they seem to launch PR campaigns like rabbits breed) – this time to name and shame “contact deniers  - parents, solicitors, judges, Cafcass officers, MP’s and any other parties involved in contact denial and the forcible separation of children from their fathers“. Barristers are exempt it seems, but probably only because F4J haven’t worked out we aren’t solicitors. I am confident that although none yet appear on the name and shame list, nor are members of the bar on the O’Connor Xmas card list.

Given the fate of Solicitors From Hell, Social Workers from Hell and assorted other similar websites I’m wondering how long this site will last before before being pulled or injuncted. Shall we start a sweepstake?

Although the site says entries are moderated there are already around 30 entries on there since launch earlier today, many naming mothers, some citing case numbers, others giving details of evidence and court proceedings. Some name children who appear to be or have been the subject of proceedings and others accuse professionals of dishonest or corrupt conduct. And the website appears to invite the sending of court orders from Children Act proceedings to F4J for some kind of verification purpose (significantly of course, a court order verifies there are proceedings but not the accuracy of the comments – and I would think even more significantly it also puts F4J on notice of the fact that the provisions of s97(2) CA 1989 and s12 AJA 1960 apply), although some comments are posted by “helpful” members of the extended paternal family who presumably have been permitted to post without providing a court order. Readers of this blog will know that publication of the above information raises a number of potential legal issues for both the parent disclosing and the publisher of it – and that the assorted “from hell” sites were challenged because of their defamatory content and the charging in some cases of fees for removal.

I’m wondering how many of the dads who have plastered the full name and accusations of their ex on that website are going to find that they miraculously obtain more contact or a warmer welcome from the court at the next hearing. As Paul Daniels would say with a cheery grin “not a lot”. Particularly not the ex of the mother who is named and identified as having made a rape complaint which is said to be false.

As David Allen Green (@jackofkent) would say #carefulnow

PS No, I’m not linking to it. For reasons which the astute amongst you will divine without difficulty.

[Update : 10.20am Thurs 20 June : the website is now password protected. Dang. Haven't made it to the bookies yet...]

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118 thoughts on “Shameful indeed

  1. Robert Whiston

    Condescending and pompous though your post may be, rest assured F4J know exactly the difference between solicitors and lawyers. It may shock you to learn that they also know legal terms, and what a Guardian ad Litem is and what a McKenzie friends is all about.
    What would be true to assert is the flip side, i.e. barristers not knowing what the differences are between FNF, Men’s Aid, F4J, Mankind etc, etc. There’s where the shame lies ! !
    Arrogantly assuming F4J does not know the basics leads to blinkered thinking in the profession and such a mindset richly deserves the contempt many of the public have for the law as a consequence – and those that earn their living from it.

    • Oh I’m pretty confident they know exactly what they are doing, Robert. I don’t take them for the fools you think I do.

  2. There is a difference between that which is legal, and that which is morally right or justifiable. You mention their act is legally dubious, and that may be correct. The issue however for many thousands of parents (dare I say children) is the moral matter of being denied a relationship by the family courts for no good reason. There is a danger of spending so much time practicing law that one forget the very people whom it is meant to protect. My teenage daughter was delighted when she saw the site; a means by which she might at long last redress the hell she was put through by multiple judges, solicitors, CAFCASS workers. Social Workers and expert witnesses all of whom are otherwise untouchable. They all made their money, good for them. What of my daughter and others like her? On balance, I’d rather we did not have to see such efforts but I fail to see what the alternative is. Clearly the legal profession knows no bounds in attempting to spread further still it’s icy claws of income generation, regardless of the cost to children it purports to protect. I’m sure there are good solicitors / barristers, equally I know from personal experience their are many many bad ones, and bad parents, judges and other experts. I think perhaps it’s time those who profit from this game saw a little sunlight shone down upon them. As I saw elsewhere on the matter, if you have nothing to hide what’s the issue? And if you’re going to say the best interests of the children, why haven’t we seen much needed and long overdue reform for that very reason? In truth, I think we all know that’s a fallacy. A fallacy far too many come to believe to justify their positions on the matter.

  3. I shudder when reading posts on this website. There is no positive outcome from such actions. Having published items of my own case I found it was detrimental, causing further delays and complications. At no time did I publish the names of the parties involved. I hate to think what would have happened if I had done so.

    Keep fighting to see your children, but always think twice before pressing the send button, it could cause you more pain not less!

  4. I’ve got a feeling it won’t be too long before barristers are up there with the rest, now that you have so kindly offered them guidance with improvements.

  5. Ooh, I know this one.The reason is because you’re a contact-denying solicitor, isn’t it?

    no?

  6. Philip Measures

    An extremely poor website – no details just an opportunity for bile and venom. If this is the best that F4J can come up with my assumption is that they have failed in their Campaign. Perhaps it too is just a money-making set-up with no credibility left when such an Organisation is needed, but one with credibility and ethics.

  7. I don’t doubt that this is a bad idea, both for those who started it and those who post on it, and I equally don’t doubt that it will get shut down (though with the withdrawal of legal aid, someone’s going to have to pay for that injunction first).

    On the other hand, I guess quite often that people have no other route to vent their frustration when all other routes are closed to them. I guess in some ways this relates to the openness debate in the family courts. I don’t see it as feasible (for costs/time reasons), but written anonymised judgments in all cases would be a step in the right direction.

    Personally, my experience so far has not been of contact denial through the family courts, nor a mother bias, but I have seen a resident parent bias, particularly within CAFCASS. Though I would have some stories about my ex if I were daft enough to post to that site, I am happy to say that I don’t think I would have anything to say about the judges, court staff, solicitors or barristers that have been involved. Jury’s still out on CAFCASS though!

    • Matw2, The approach to transparency has changed over the last few years, and is looking set to change further in the coming months – there is more openness than before – although more often in public law cases I think. But until then the default position is “don’t publish stuff about your case”. F4J are no doubt aware of the rules in this area, but I’m not sure whether all the people who are happily posting stuff on the site will be so aware of the potential consequences of their actions. Incidentally the court could make an order of its own motion if it saw fit – whether it will / would / should is another matter – but the probable absence of legal aid doesn’t necessarily afford those who have published material effective immunity.

  8. Interesting article. I remember the Solicitors From Hell (SFH) site quite well. Yes – it did overstep the mark in some ways but closing it down was the wrong decision. Interesting that the MOJ is naming and shaming Claim Management Companies and I think I read that The Legal Ombudsman were also doing this in some capacity.

    Anyway SFH was mainly closed down because of harassment laws on the basis that solicitors felt harassed by being listed on the site. Perhaps the Yorkshire Ripper will sue The Sun the next time his name is mentioned. Anyway the decision by Judge Tugendhat was another in a long list of wrong and arbitary decisions. He said that even if the SFH listings were shown to be 100% accurate he would have closed it down. Quite a revealing admission if you think about it. Like the Sally Bercow case, it is completely at odds with clear guidance used in other cases. The message is that if you upset people who have influence, power and wealth you will be closed down. If you post offensive messages about Joe Bloggs, the judges will dismiss the case as trivia.

    I actually have a large collection of libel/harassment cases which if read and compared, most people would reach the same conclusion. The contradictions are a real opener.

  9. Nick Langford

    I left F4J last year and have little continuing time for them.

    I don’t share Ian’s squeamishness about naming children and agree with Pete that children need an opportunity to express the injustice and cruelty done to them – something which Children4justice could have achieved if the idea had actually been carried through.

    I’m inclined to agree with Philip; I think they have given up hope of ever changing anything and that their campaign now is focused on revenge and retribution. I’m concerned that nowhere on the form on which fathers can post do they mention that they will be breaking the law themselves, just as they encourage fathers to covertly record proceedings without cautioning them.

    Having said that, at least this is an initiative on which they have delivered; most are promised but never see the light of day.

    I agree that this won’t help ongoing cases and only fathers who have no further hope should contribute. There will inevitably be some inappropriate cases posted, and I wouldn’t trust the O’Connors to discriminate – they will simply want as many posts as they can get.

    • Well Nick, It ain’t seeing the light of day now, as it’s been put behind a password this morning. So much for transparency. That rather supports your hypothesis about the motivation behind it – behind a password it is surely only for the private consumption of those who already share the views of F4J rather than a PR campaign?

  10. Philip Measures

    They clearly either recognise that they are acting unlawfully / illegally or do not have the courage of their convictions to ‘stand up and be counted.’ – a bunch of cowards who are doing far more harm to their SUPPOSED Cause than good. Their actions are reprehensible and unethical.

  11. I’m no great fan of the F4J leadership and I don’t think they have a huge amount of time for me. I, personally, and the organisation I work for, were recently a target of one of their, somewhat, erratic and incendiary attacks.

    Is this latest stunt helpful; probably not. Is it illegal; quite possibly. Will it help any of the fathers who submit content; definitely not. Will it further the cause of equality; I’d be surprised.

    But, whatever the rights and wrongs of this latest half-arsed piece of theatre or of F4J’s actions in general, the real issue is that dads don’t have a voice.

    The Coalition government promised that they would bring forward amendments to the Children Act to ensure that both parents would play a ‘strong and influential role in children’s upbringing after separation’. It dropped this and replaced it with the wording that courts should ‘presume, unless the contrary is shown, that involvement of that parent in the life of the child concerned will further the child’s welfare’. From ‘strong and influential role’ to ‘involvement’ quicker than you can say Standpoint Academic.

    The government also told dads that they it would do something about the enforcement of court orders. ‘An obstructive parent who seeks to prevent the other parent from spending time with their child, even when the involvement of both is in the child’s best interests, should not expect the court system to legitimise this arrangement’ it said. But, just a minor intervention from the usual suspects has ensured that all plans to toughen up enforcement have been quietly dropped.

    If change isn’t possible through a government that came into power claiming to be the most family friendly yet, then when will it be possible?

    Like them or loathe them, for many fathers, F4J represent at least a buoy to help keep them afloat as they drown in the oceans of discrimination and injustice they face. In the absence of any other voices to champion their cause, it’s no surprise that some dads will continue to express their loss in pain in ways that may not be the most helpful.

  12. However, there are all sorts of calls to name and shame other criminals. If you disagree with this one, I suppose you’d have to disagree that naming and shaming is pathetic and reprehensible in every case.

    When judging though, you might bear in mind the desperation that leads people to do these kinds of things. It’s certainly an ethical dilemma, but coming down on one side or the other is unhelpful and simplistic I think.

  13. That’s a very measured approach Philip, not.

    They are certainly not ‘cowards’, although I guess compared to your heroics on here they might be considered such.

    Unlawful/illegal so what, they are are clearly uninterested.

    More harm than good, perhaps in the short-term and in their own cases – However, in the long-term and wider situation, I doubt it.

    Reprehensible and unethical perhaps but compared to what happens in the family court system very often, it may pale into insignificance to many or the majority of the public.

    But please keep blustering away in furious indignation Philip, it is very heroic and and a wonderful display we certainly need more of from the likes of you.

    P.S. According to their Facebook page:

    “NAME AND SHAME SITE Because of a sheer volume of posts, the site will be down for a few hours today as we make some amendments to it to make it easier for you to use. The site will go live again later today.”

  14. [...] Family barrister slams latest Fathers 4 Justice PR campaign [Pink Tape] [...]

  15. Why has the court published my case. Family law week 1231 if you bother to read you’ll see so far I have lost 4 1/2 years of my ten year olds life through courts incompetence. I will not name the mum however recorder [edited] and [edited] of Cafcass need to be held accountable. As the public pay their wages they should know the service to expect if they fall into this system.

  16. Nick Langford

    It doesn’t seem to be password protected any more, but most of the names originally posted seem to have been removed. On Facebook they are blaming technical issues and asking people to re-post.

    It doesn’t bother me terribly if F4J harm their cause by this (it can hardly harm it any more than bullying Caroline Nokes, getting into bed with George Galloway or vandalising the Queen’s portrait). I am concerned, however, that it will harm the wider campaign for equal parenting and family law reform.

    Whether or not you agree with the campaign, what is needed in the UK, in my view, is an organisation closer to the National Parents Organization in the US (formerly Fathers and Families); it presents its argument through reason and evidence, rather than by trying to bully people into agreeing with it, and, unlike F4J, it has achieved some significant victories.

    Sadly, while F4J hog the limelight they prevent anything similar from happening in the UK.

    • Nick, No not password protected any more. And much of the content they originally moderated through is gone. Quite a lot of the posts remaining appear to be batches from one individual covering various individuals involved in the same case (judge, cafcass, mother etc).
      I agree with you Nick – there is a legitimate and sensible discussion to be had, and a legitimate and sensible campaign to be run and it’s difficult for anyone to do that with this sort of distraction going on. I might not agree with all of it, but I regret that conversation can’t take place.

  17. Fair comment Nick Woodall.

    The handwringing, irritation at and mocking of F4J by some will have little or no resonance with their members or the leadership.

    This is because for those who feel they have been degraded in and/or have lost all/much to the family court system will be from their own personal perspective used to being treated poorly and scorned by those working in the system as they see it.

    Those in the leadership will also wish to attract publicity for their campaign, within certain boundaries and upsetting the authorities with such as this particular stunt will be well within those boundaries and an intentional result. Collateral damage to some of their membership’s particular cases will be a price they may feel worth paying for the long-term hope of change.

    The disparaging comments about their campaign will not be significantly different in tone and content as those directed at the suffragettes a hundred years or so ago, who were far more worrying, as well as violent and life threatening to the public and authorities, in total contrast to F4J.

    Losing your children or not having the vote, which is worse?

  18. A legitimate and sensible campaign does not need F4J to stop their antics to run. That’s a copout and a poor reason to do little or nothing, which fairly often is what happens, while the tut tutting at F4J and the like fills the vacuum.

  19. Nick Langford

    It was F4J’s misguided attack on Nick and Karen Woodall which was for me the final straw; I was asked to dig up the dirt on them (there isn’t any) and refused. I was thrown out, as I knew I would be.

    Chambers talks of the leadership and the membership; in case we are in any doubt we should know that the leadership is Matt O’Connor and his wife, Nadine. There is no ‘head office’ or ‘F4J team’ – that’s it. As for membership, there are about 200 paid-up members.

    They are not, and never have been, representative of disenfranchised fathers, but they do dominate the debate, and they prevent reasoned, intelligent discussion of these issues.

    And I say that as someone who spent 8 years of my life trying to give the campaign some intellectual credibility.

  20. I don’t understand what the problem is with releasing public documents and rulings. This is a perfect way to finally keep parties honest, and to hold legal professionals accountable.

    Without providing evidence of parental gate-keeping and judicial negligence, non-custodial parents’ experiences are reduced to nothing more than unfounded grudges and complaints. If judges and parties don’t want to be ‘shamed’, then perhaps they should not act in ways that would allow for it.

    • Todd, The original blog post was not about whether there should be greater transparency in family proceedings (which I think there should) but rather an observation that the contact deniers site appears to take an approach that is in conflict with the current rules. However, the most senior family judge in England & Wales is understood to be currently considering doing something along those lines – we don’t know the detail yet but he is well known to advocate greater transparency. As it stands a great number of judgments are already made public, albeit usually on the basis that the parties and children are anonymised. Documents in children proceedings are not generally made public but I don’t know whether this will change in some circumstances.

  21. Was it an attack on the Woodall’s, I thought they just wanted clarification of some rather woolly views they had which were in line with the family solicitor also on the Voice of Russia.

    Think most of us who have been around a while know the setup at F4J, hardly a surprise. Not my cup of tea but they take up some of the vacuum that is out there in relation to this mass issue. Plenty of room for others who think they can do better to jump right in, lets hope they do.

  22. Judgments are worse than useless at telling you what goes on in a family case unless you have complete faith in the particular judge handing it down.

    The balance of probabilities and lack of other views from hacks and people witnessing family cases, means they are a poor sop to what is needed, open family courts.

    Just ask Judge Judy who the public worldwide thinks is a top judge, fair and not discriminatory based on gender.

    “Closed courtrooms only protect bad judges and lawyers” says Judge Judy

    http://www.thejournal.ie/closed-courtrooms-only-protect-bad-judges-and-laywers-says-judge-judy-863648-Apr2013/

    • @chambers : Cor, not sure that all parents would fare well under the Judge Judy “No BS” approach. Not sure she would help calm stormy waters much either…

  23. “Solicitors from hell ” has been going strong for years and only closed briefly some years ago for a week or two due to change of webmaster.Why on earth can anyone be so stupid as to say a site is closed without taking a few seconds to check and find it is open and going from strength to strength???
    As to transparency,openess,privacy and the like my view remains the same and my virtually unchallenged statement as follows:-

    25,000+ families in the UK are destroyed every year by UK secret family courts and the equally secret Court of Protection.What is a democracy? It is surely a country allowing the right of its citizens to protest publicly if they feel oppressed by the State; Elections by themselves are no guarantee. Hitler was legally elected, but was revealed as a dictator by suppressing any form of open dissent or protest. In the UK now secret family courts take newborn babies from their mothers for “risk of emotional abuse”, give them for adoption to strangers, and JAIL any parent going to the media to protest! Similarly elderly folk are snatched from caring relatives by the court of so called “Protection”, and put into expensive private nursing homes, their bank accounts are then looted and houses sold (ejecting their relatives) to pay the fees! If relatives protest to the media they too are JAILED! The democratic right of public protest should be restored to victims of UK secret courts NOW

    • Charming language as ever Ian. Never let it be said it is OTT.
      Yours, stupidly. PS I’ll be featured on “stupid barristers from hell” next week.

  24. #25 Thanks, Nick. We appreciated your stance.

  25. Philip Measures

    Total lack of evidence ‘ian josephs’ – why? Because we have no longitudinal studies along the lines of that initiated back in the 1960′s by John Rutter on the Isle of Wight – so, we have to say, and CAFCASS has indeed said it, that we do not know what works.

    I share the view of my dear friend Ian Merry that what does work, as far as we know, is probably as a result of careful, detailed and ethical work by those ‘good’ practitioners who put the individual above the Organisation.

    If we really care the we will seek to put pressure on Government to initiate those longitudinal studies – especially into adoption and also long-term ‘Care’ and where Contact has been refused legally to parents.

  26. What evidence do you need Philip that a democracy allows public protest and totalitarian State suppresses it as unfortunately do the judges in family courts and the court of protection?.Jailing victims of these courts if they protest publicly is hardly democratic.

  27. Philip Measures

    @’ian josephs’ – Of course the State allows public protest – hopefully of a lawful nature – but that is entirely a different point to the professional issue that I was raising with regard to the needs of detailed studies and long-term research into adoption and long-term substitute care but you are probably on an entirely different ‘wave length’ in that respect.

  28. #28 Chambers

    Just for clarification purposes, I was representing my employers, the Centre for Separated Families, on the Radio Russia discussion, not “the Woodall’s” (I should have known that that things would get confusing if I married my boss!).

    I absolutely disagree that there is anything ‘wooly’ about the charity’s position. It is, and was, very clear and very public. To this day, I’m not sure why the dispute arose except that Mr and Mrs O’Connor decided to latch on to some mischief making from the then Chief Executive of FNF.

    I responded privately to F4J but was certainly not prepared to be bullied by them or, for that matter, get involved in defending their ludicrous assertion ‘that the Centre for Separated Families opposes shared parenting’.

    The Centre for Separated Families is, primarily, an organisation that offers advice, information and therapeutic interventions to help families to parent together after separation in ways that respond to children’s emotional and psychological development.

    I understand that people get upset that the charity does not believe that a presumption of 50:50 shared care would resolve all of the issues association with dads and mums getting pushed out of their children’s lives. You only need to spend a couple of hours with us, working with parents who have shared parenting orders but no relationship with their children, to understand that there needs to be more than a change to the Children Act.

    Anybody interested in listening to the debate can find it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TCXeHouLFg&feature=plcp

  29. @familoo : The calming of stormy waters which is a mantra in the English courts often is perhaps not what is needed. It becomes a reason to do nothing frequently.

    A judge telling an obstructive parent what has to happen and the consequences of not doing so, then importantly following through on any threats if ignored, is what we need more of. Our legal system allows the flouting of Orders because that is what is easiest for the Courts.

    In New York for example if you did not follow a family court Order for custody, you would find yourself very quickly in jail. In France the gendarmes would enforce an Order for contact rather than telling the hapless dad to re-apply to the courts.

    The English legal system has become almost worthless to many when considering trying to maintain a relationship with their kids after separation/divorce. It is a system that costs far too much, is ridiculously lengthy and ineffective for the most part when faced with intransigence of a primary carer.

    • You’re right Chambers, what we need is judges who’ll ramp up that conflict. *sarcastic look*
      I wasn’t really talking about tough enforcement action, which is sometimes required, but about the impact that the tone and behaviour of professionals can have on the confrontation between parents (as I think you have previously observed of lawyers).

  30. Just checked F4J’s site and they have a 100+ entries in their so-called name&shame contact deniers site, which is open and not password protected.

    • Chambers – yes, as noted previously it wasn’t down for long. Lots of the entries disappeared and new ones have appeared in place.

  31. Philip Measures

    Re. the F4J Contact deniers site – also includes multiple same-person postings and also reference to non-professionals. About as effective as the proverbial chocolate fireguard!!!

  32. @ Nick Woodall -

    Yes you made it clear on the VoR that you supported the family solicitors view that there was ‘no’ need for a presumption of shared parenting/further shared parenting laws.

    The FNF chap asked you if you supported new shared parenting laws and you said something along the lines of there not needing to be any new laws. I can’t be bothered to listen to it again unless you disagree with this summary of course.

    You were opposed to new shared parenting laws but were supportive of shared parenting – Some might say confused or woolly perhaps.

    I see you are raising the familiar ‘straw man argument’ that is used by opponents of of shared parenting laws, the old 50:50 presumption of shared care. This is mischievous because I am sure you are aware that the primary supporters of a presumption of shared parenting in legislation are ‘not’ asking for a presumption of 50:50 at all e.g. the government – It may be fitting for some cases but most cases because of work, distance and other individual circumstances, all sorts of schedules of shared parenting are a possibility.

    Nobody is saying either (another straw man argument) as you say that a presumption of shared parenting in law would resolve all the issues. It would be a huge move forward and a starting point to change the thinking in society and with the authorities.

    Of course we need more than a change to the Children Act but we need that as well and as a beginning.

    There are no such things as ‘shared parenting orders’ as you mention but if you are talking about ‘shared residence orders’ – Then yes some parents do have SRO’s and no relationship with their children, some parents have contact orders and no relationship with their children, some parents don’t have any orders and have no relationship with their children – In other words the type of Order or No Order does not make much of a difference to ‘some’ parents. However, for many parents having a ‘shared care schedule’ in an Order or agreement whatever it is called is very important to them and their children. Throwing the baby out with the bath water as you argue and blaming shared residence orders or a presumption of shared parenting (should it come in) is nonsensical.

  33. @ familoo -

    We don’t need that as you say but we do need judges who follow through on their threats should one parent continue to ignore Orders and/or behave atrociously. Happens too little unfortunately.

  34. Unfortunately Philip the State does NOT allow victims of the family courts and the “Court of Protection” to protest to the media when babies,toddlers,teenagers,are taken from parents and the elderly taken from their caring relatives.Too many have been quietly jailed for protesting in what still passes as a democratic UK State.
    Unfortunately,”Chambers” the courts do NOT allow the flouting of their orders when those orders forbid contact of any kind(face to face,email,telephone,or letter) between parent and child or elderly husbands and wives.
    Too many have been jailed for sending birthday cards or waving hello in the street..
    Stuart Hall pled guilty to sexual assault on 13 little girls ,one only 9 years old and was sentenced to only 15 months in prison.Vicky Haigh spoke to her daughter(whom she had not seen for more than 2 years) when the girl’s father drove up to a petrol station where Vicky was shopping, and was sentenced to 3 years in prison though she has never harmed a child or anyone else in all her life !
    With respect Philip no detailed research or long term studies of adoption or long term substitute care are needed.
    Quite simply “punishment without crime” should be eliminated from the court process,so that non criminal parents and elderly couples may enjoy their family lives without intervention by public authority contrary to Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.

  35. @ forced adoption
    My knowledge of Public Family Law is limited. Although I support the opening up of both the Courts for both Public and Private Family Law matters.

    I agree the Courts very often do not allow the flouting of court orders when it is a parent with no or limited contact.
    However, when the primary carer is flouting orders, they are most often left by the courts to get on with it with a mild verbal chastisement at most very often. Generally, Courts should not make orders they are not willing to enforce.

    Sorry, no sympathy for Vicky Haigh, her persistent heinous allegations against the father are a form of emotional abuse and will have caused the child emotional harm.

    Emotional harm is no less serious than physical or sexual harm.

    The courts at least did the right thing here from what is known through the judgments but I have to say with the caveat that judgments are going to be more reliable in open courts because there is more scrutiny, than is presently the case.

    The CQC debacle and NHS scandals etc. show what happens when privacy is put above transparency and accountability that is effective. CQC full of ex social workers who come from a background where hiding wrongdoings and ignoring outsiders to the organisation is seen as bog standard procedure.

  36. Vicky Haigh never made any heinous allegations against the father [edited]
    Did this really warrant 3 years in jail for her daring to speak to her daughter when Stuart Hall who admitted molesting 13 little girls got only 15 months ?????

    • OK, Ian I’ve edited your comment about the Vicky Haigh case (as you will no doubt have anticipated) because whilst Chambers comment is consistent with the publicly available judgments, I’m not sure that yours was. I think you will have to have this discussion elsewhere if you wish to continue it. You comment on this blog very frequently Ian and you know full well what I will and will not publish – I don’t think I am prepared to continue moderating and editing your comments to make them publishable / appropriate on an indefinite basis. I only ever have to do this routinely for a very few people – most people step over the line because they are unaware of my policy or the privacy rules and they do it only once or twice. That is not this case.

      You are more than welcome to continue commenting on this blog notwithstanding our disagreement on pretty much everything, but since this is my blog, and my spare time, I may decide to just bin your comments or block you in future if you can’t make the effort to draft them in a way that is not apparently calculated to require me to spend time editing them. I’d rather not do that but I will if necessary.

      Lucy

  37. I think it worth mentioning that well run private businesses always seek feedback from customers so that if something does go wrong measures can be taken to stop it happening again.Most airlines,hotel chains,and nowadays even banks are good examples as is also my own modest language business…..
    Any government run enterprise has on the other hand an immediate reaction to cover up mistakes at all costs.Examples of this are of course the N.H.S , departments of local authorities (especially social services)
    and of course the family court system.Sad,sad,…….

  38. Familoo,Nowhere in any judgement does Vicky make accusations heinous or otherwise against the father as claimed by Chambers .I was quoting direct from judgements that have been published but will refrain in future if it causes extra checking work.
    I will only add that even if what Chambers said was true it cannot be right to cut off all contact direct and even indirect between mother and daughter for many years and sentence her to 3 years jail for speaking to her daughter at a petrol station !
    Baby P’s mother was allowed face to face contact with her surviving children…….

    • Ian, As far as I recall the central issue in some of the judgments is the persistent complaint by the mother regarding the father’s alleged behaviour towards the child, which the court had twice found to be untrue. Whether or not one agrees that such conduct is heinous, and whether or not the judgment uses the word heinous (I don’t think it does but it is strongly critical of the mother) it is legitimate to express the opinion that it was.

      Similarly, whilst you are entitled to express your view as to the appropriateness and proportionality of the sentence / orders in that case and in comparison to others, I don’t think such one line comparisons are helpful. There will have been many factors at play in the courts decision in each case rather than the single bar fact that you refer to.

  39. Nick Langford

    It is a great shame – in more senses than one – that elements of the fathers’ rights movement, including F4J and FNF, have been unable or unwilling to understand or respect the position on shared parenting taken by the Centre for Separated Families and have sought instead to bully them into accepting their own inflexible dogma.

    This is particularly ironic given that these organisations have changed their own position from a demand for a rebuttable presumption of reasonable contact to one demanding a presumption of shared residence. The CSF position, as I understand it, is simply a further development in the same philosophical direction.

  40. Extract from judgement of L.J WALL !
    http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2011/B16.html

    4:-In due course and after many investigations, including four medical examinations of X herself, the case was heard before His Honour Judge Robertshaw concluding on the 29th January 2010. At that hearing, which lasted two weeks, the mother was represented by Counsel. It is important to note that the mother’s own case was not that X had been sexually abused but that allegations of sexual abuse, by this stage coming from X herself, were a reaction to the stressful relationships around her. In terms it was submitted, on the mother’s behalf, X was saying things “she thinks the adults want to hear”. By the adults, this, of course, could only have meant the mother. The Judge at that hearing gave Ms Haigh every opportunity to present a case that X had been abused, if that was what she believed, but Ms Haigh chose not to.

  41. @ forced adoption -
    Findings have been made that the allegations of sexual abuse made by the child came from the mother (Vicky Haigh) and were false. The mother coached the child to make sexual abuse allegations – Para 7

    The mother was found to have caused the child emotional harm by the making of repeated, false allegations of sexual abuse by the father. The mother coached the child to make the allegations which the mother knew to be untrue. – Para 11

    Over several years Vicky Haigh made a number of allegations which resulted in the child having 4 medical examinations, police interviews and numerous contacts with professionals – Para 11

    This mother has made ‘heinous’ (my word) allegations against the father, using the child in a monstrous (my word) manner. Vicky Haigh emotionally abused her child, heinous (my word) acts by this mother. Causing the child emotional harm.

    I have zero sympathy for this mother but immense sympathy for the child who went through this long-term ordeal perpetrated on her by her mother.

  42. @ forced adoption – I will not be responding to anymore posts on the Vicky Haigh matter as the judgment you kindly provided says it all.

    • Good. Right, lets’ call an end to the Vicky Haigh discussion.

    • Chambers / Nick Langford. Calm down and stop spatting please. I’ve no idea what the backstory is with the Woodalls and the thread is a bit disembodied for anyone not in the know.

  43. @ Nick Langford

    Lets not forget why this subject was raised about the Woodall’s views on shared parenting laws, it was Nick Woodall himself #16 – He was again having his say on the proposed new laws he opposes, as he did in the Voice of Russia, are you saying he is so precious he is not allowed to be questioned on them when he raises it on this thread, cmon pull the other one please.

    Please kindly get off your soap box as we’ll all be in tears very shortly at how sorely treated you and the Woodalls have apparently been treated as you say by the ignorant masses who don’t have your incredible intelligence to understand you or them.

    If asking the CSF why they don’t support a presumption of shared parenting in legislation after they raise this first on a blog is bullying then I’ll eat my proverbial hat, they are ever so lucky to have you as their knight in shining armour looking after the downtrodden poor souls from being asked why they don’t support the proposed shared parenting laws. Pass me the hanky.

    My post #44 lays it out simply about Nick Woodall’s view as he voiced it on the Voice of Russia ref new shared parenting laws not being needed. If it is wrong please explain why?

    I don’t know any organisation that has changed it views in recent times as you describe in your second Para – Please enlighten us as to who you are talking about.

    Personally I am in the shared parenting movement. Please tell me what exactly is inflexible or dogmatic about supporting the presumption of shared parenting in legislation and challenging those on this blog to explain why they do not, when they raise the issue?

  44. The real cruelty is not parenting that is not shared… The barbaric stopping of all contact by parents with their own children by email,phone,facebook,or post is utterly barbaric and can rarely if ever be justified.

  45. #58 Chambers

    I really can’t be arsed going over the same arguments again and again with you, but I will say this.

    The Centre for Separated Families has never said that there is no need to change the law and, if you can be bothered to listen to the recording again, you will hear that, contrary to FNF’s position, which was to support the pathetic so-called ‘reforms’ in the Bill, I argued that the reforms were, in fact, simply a codification of the existing court interpretation of the existing legislation and, therefore represented no change at all!

    It sounds, from the points that you’ve made on this thread that you support the Bill that is going through parliament as we speak – you have your ‘presumption’. However, when the House of Commons Justice Committee Report on the Bill concludes that ‘…the draft clause has been included not to effect any change in Court orders but to tackle a perception of bias within the Courts…’ (Para 153) and Hon Mr Justice Ryder states that ‘the draft clause… is not likely to change practice’, I would argue that my arguement is valid.

    Maybe our demands are just more radical than yours…

    PS will people stop referring to the Centre for Separated Families and me personally the f***ing ‘Woodall’s’…

    Over and out.

  46. #44 Chambers

    [Sorry Familoo; I did need to come back after all...]

    I really don’t understand that point that you are making, Chambers, when you say that ‘blaming shared residence orders or a presumption of shared parenting (should it come in) is nonsensical.’

    That wasn’t the point I was making at all. I believe that ALL orders should be what we currently call ‘Shared Residence Orders’ (although there would be no need to call them ‘Shared Residence’ as there would be no ‘Residence’ orders and no ‘Contact’ orders).

    For at least a decade, the Centre for Separated Families has argued for the abolition of concepts such as ‘contact’ and ‘residence’. We believe them to be divisive, disrespectful and redundant.

    We have consistently argued that reducing a precious parent/child relationship to that of ‘contact’ is disgusting, whilst most of the fathers groups seem very happy to fling the words ‘contact’ and ‘access’ around without a moments thought.

    For the record, CSF’s position on post separation parenting arrangements is as follows:

    we believe that post separation parenting patterns should be based upon a child’s best interests;

    we believe in the general principle that children have the right to maintain relationships with both of their parents, and their wider kinship, after family separation;

    we do not support a presumption that children will spend equal amounts of time with each parent after separation;

    we believe that children who have formed close relationships with both of their parents, prior to separation, benefit from significant and substantial ongoing relationships with both parents after separation and that this is likely to include children spending frequent and continuing time with both parents;

    we believe that children who have not built a close relationship with one of their parents prior to separation should have the opportunity to do so but that patterns of care and the context in which it takes place should reflect the pre-existing relationship until that relationship changes;

    we believe that parenting time arrangements must take into account the age and development of a child as well as practical considerations such as the distance between parental homes;

    we believe that parenting time arrangements should be regularly assessed and modified to reflect a child’s development;

    we believe that, where both parents have parental responsibility, they each share equal status as parents of their child.

  47. Philip Measures

    @63 Nick Woodall:

    As an extremely ‘long-in-the-tooth’ Registered social worker I want to say just how much I share many of your comments above.

    What concerned me during my short time in CAFCASS was the ease in which Contact could be interrupted. I took the view that CAFCASS should certainly adopt the same principles as laid down in the Children Act 1989 in relation to ‘significant harm’ and that the parent ceasing to make Contact available should be required within 7 days of a Court Application to file a detailed Affidavit setting out their reasons which should then be responded to, say, within 14 days.

    The whole process needs to be dynamic and child-focussed and one that eliminates undue delays due to Court and legal processes.

    Perhaps CAFCASS is not the appropriate agency to be involved as the assumption has to be that if Contact is being withheld it is for ‘safeguarding’ reasons and those are matters for the Local Authority.

  48. @ Nick Woodall

    Sorry familoo – Just to make a couple of final points please.

    Nowhere have I seen you lobby for new shared parenting laws. You have simply said the shared parenting laws proposed by the government are not your cup of tea. Your organisation has not put forward any proposals for radical or otherwise legislation on shared parenting laws.

    Your list @63 is simply a re-affirmation of what the Courts try to do today. In other words no change. There is nothing about shared parenting or shared care just maintaining relationships as they were before the separation, same old same old we have now.

    Yes we can all get righteous about terminology such as ‘contact’ and ‘residence’ and every shared parenting movement has wanted them binned for decades, so nothing new there although you seem to think there is.

    Your primary argument against a ‘presumption’ of shared parenting is that it will give fathers false hope and these hopes will be dashed against the hard rocks of the family court system. This is where you are fundamentally wrong, as a presumption will allow the present system to be challenged and over time improved because the demand from fathers who will be encouraged by the huge signal from government and society that they are important to their children will be overwhelming. The family court system will not be able to hide for too long as it does now with a presumption of shared parenting in place. A beginning to real reform.

    As your list of reasons in @63 show you are not interested in shared parenting except for a few families who can prove they had a pre-existing shared parenting pattern in place before separation/divorce.

    Other families where they cannot prove this model or they have come to parenting from a different angle will have to live with as present, a system that has a primary carer and a visitor in the lives of the children. Simply because this was deemed to be the relationship prior to separation/divorce or by the recent status quo. No change there then, parents who worked full time or separated at early years of a child will have to live with a pattern based on using your words ‘pre-existing relationship’, they will not be able to aspire to shared parenting for their children.

    According to you, children will have time with parents according to their ‘age and development’, in other words as now with Cafcass and the Courts usually saying that under 3 years of age there should not be overnights against the primary carers will. Same old same old. When in fact fathers can look after young children and children cope admirably with shared parenting schedules as they do with child minders or nurseries.

    Nothing you have listed is any different in practical terms as happens now in the courts, oh except for the terminology which even the government is changing at last after pressure from the shared parenting movement.

    As for ‘equal status’ well separated parents already have equal status in law unless there is a sole residence order in place (which is increasingly unlikely). So same old, same old again.

    Sorry Nick, I see nothing radical in your proposals, to flog a dead horse, same old, same old.

  49. The whole shared parental responsibility order thing fascinates me as a concept, just because I find the whole idea riven fundamental logical error.

    If two parents cannot agree the fundamentals of how a child should be brought up (where it should live, how much time it should spend with each parent, what school it should attend, its faith etc) such that they need a judge to decide the issues, what is going to happen when they are handed joint and several parental powers?

    Chaos is a very real prospect.

    If both parents can successfully work together in the interests of the child then fine. But then you don’t need an order. If they can’t, then on what basis is it realistic to assume that chaos won’t ensue if you hand these powers to two people who can’t agree?

    Shared exercise of PR is still a good thing. An equal split of contact time (if feasible)—or if not then the next best thing is (in my view) ensuring that meaningful enduring relationships with both parents develop. But, contrary to the bullshit often spouted, that’s perfectly possible without huge amounts of contact. Kids whose father or mother works long hours (I was one) can still develop good relationships with the less present parent so long as the time that is spent together is used effectively (again, as happened in my childhood).

    But I got so sick of people who—directly or indirectly—focus on their fucking rights to their kids. There are none. Children are owed a duty—and if you can’t live with that and put it above your own interest then the answer is stark: that parent isn’t capable of properly exercising the powers that PR brings and shouldn’t have it.

  50. Many children today are born of parents who do not live together. If the father’s involvement is subject to unnecessary and irrational restriction from the off, then the paternal relationship is stuffed, period. Father and child will never properly bond.

    I therefore disagree with Mr Woodall’s point above that a pre-existing pattern of mother-dominant care should remain until a paternal relationship is changed. This is a recipe for a relationship which is permanently poor.

  51. Ruth Langford

    Getting back to the original point of this blog (the comments now appears to have become another attack on the CSF), the F4J contact denial “name and shame” website; this type of tactic doesn’t surprise me in the least. It is controversial, confrontational and inflammatory, nor has it been fully thought through – which is typical of F4J. The “Missing Children” wall on their website has already received complaints from some (presumably mothers), claiming the posting of photographs of children is “harassment”, and a number of photos have been removed (or so I understand). I wouldn’t be surprised if the main point of this site is for it to be closed down following complaints, so that F4J can claim they have been silenced yet again.
    Yes, there is a high probability of either (or both) the contact denial site and the Missing Children photos involving a number of s97 breaches – I haven’t seen anywhere on the F4J site(s) or their Facebook page that by posting either details about contact blockers, or photos/info about children that this could well constitute a breach of s97 which Lucy has already discussed in her blog. I worry about the effects that may be had on individual cases where the father has posted such information publicly.
    However, when someone feels they have already lost everything dear to them, they may feel that there nothing left to lose by posting such information; that it could be the only public platform they may have to voice their despair and grief, to post photos of children so that one day, those children may see them and know that their father never forgot about them. I don’t agree with the tactics F4J are currently employing, but I do understand that desperate men are driven to take desperate measures.
    I would hope that those who are considering posting on this contact denial site think carefully before doing so – and what impact on being aligned with such a platform may have on their own on-going cases.

  52. 68 – Apparently the Langford’s regard pointing out why the Woodall’s approach of basing the courts decision on the ‘pre-existing relationship’ prior to separation/divorce and the ‘age and development’ of a child is no different to what the courts do now, is an attack. Wrong, its called discussion and debate.

    The Langfords attack (this was an attack and personal) on the O’Connors (see 13 & 25) is interesting in how it mirrors many parent relationships that break up with its bitter recriminations; the revealing of minor details of their former relationship in an attempt to do down the other party; the taking of every opportunity to have a dig at a former partner whatever the hurt to the children (shared parenting movement); the forming of new partners and friends based on their dislike of the former partner etc.

    I’ve found that the quiet dignity of not attacking a former partner and not revealing intimate details of a relationship is far better in the long-term for former partners and their children, same thing with former working relationships.

  53. #65 Chambers

    For the record, here is the CSF response to the consultation:

    “OPTION 1 PRESUMPTION
    We do not consider that this clause, as it is currently drafted, would make anything other than a marginal difference in contested Section 8 cases and would not be effective in meeting the Government’s stated objectives.

    This consultation document, on both the opening sheet and in paragraph 3.2, uses the phrase “retain a strong and influential relationship with his or her child” to describe the Government’s intention in relation to shared parenting. This intention is not reflected in the wording of the Option 1 draft clause which replaces the words “strong and influential relationship” with the word “involvement”.

    The Family Justice Review Final Report – November 2011 (para 4.20) states that “courts start from the principle that contact with both parents will be in the interests of the child, unless there are very good reasons to the contrary.” If this is, indeed, the case, it is difficult to see how the proposed wording would do anything other than codify the courts’ existing application of the Act.

    We also believe that the words “in a way not adverse to the child’s safety” are superfluous as Section 1(3) already contains sufficient safeguards – in particular, s1(3)(e) and s1(3)(f) – and that they should, therefore, be removed.

    We do, however, consider that an amended form of this clause could contribute to meeting the Government’s stated objectives. Such an amendment would insert the word “significant”, “substantial”, “influential”, “strong” or “meaningful” (or a combination of these or similar words) before the word “involvement”, in the current draft. This should be supported by detailed judicial guidelines on the interpretation of the clause.”

    I will, of course, be very happy to come back in 5 years and discuss exactly how things have changed for fathers and how your precious Principle, as drafted for the amended Act, has made things any less discriminatory for fathers.

  54. Birds of a feather flock together !Or to put it another way “Those who live off the system defend the system”!
    Judges,barrister,solicitors,guardians,cafcass types,social workers,and professional experts all club together either against both parents (public law) or one selected parent (private law)to enforce their collective will….
    This becomes positively barbaric in those cases where a parent has never physically harmed a child but is denied ALL contact with a child or children face to face or by phone,email,letter,or facebook.
    Such an action can never be justified and instead of jailing any parent greeting a child at a chance meeting or sending a birthday card card, these “birds of a feather” should all be jailed themselves !

  55. I note tat someone called Lucy reed has made it onto the name and shame site. Anyone we know?

    As for the main thrust of this blog posting; we can argue all we like. The simple fact remains that sacred bonds between those that ‘care’ (thats you #66 excluded) are being broken without a seconds thought and without much if any justification. Some of you on here make money out of this ‘game’, some of you don’t. Either way, asking someone to stand idly by whilst others argue over minutiae for months, years is asking too much. Some of those that ‘care’ and that are incorrectly stopped from seeing their children will eventually snap. It’s inevitable. Some will publicise, some will write HELP on a painting. Rather than criticise, how about forcing a change in law. Failing which, try helping those in most pain. That doesn’t include those of you that earn a living from the game, you are part of the problem regardless of what your cognitive dissonance informs you concerning your motives.

    • Thanks for your comment Pete, but I don’t think it can be me, as I’m not a solicitor. Must be a different snake oil saleswoman. Perhaps you could report back that that this comment is the closest to a rise they will get out of me? ps I’m ignoring the abusive tweets too.

  56. Shame on you Lucy!! To waste your time addressing F4J’s latest effort to get some fairness for fathers and their children by pointing out that Judges ‘won’t be pleased’. It is precisely because of the inequality of the system…your system.. that F4J exists. When there is unfairness/corruption (not suggesting FJ’s are corrupt) people find other methods..they demonstrate/get on the streets..they use social media..they have nowhere else to turn.
    A far better use of your time would be to analyse in your blog the recent report by the CSJ: **One million children growing up with no contact to father. **Lone parents tally heads for 2 million with annual rise of 20,000 a year. **Father absence is linked to higher rates of teenage crime, pregnancy, disadvantage.
    ** Many children live in ‘men deserts’ with no male role model in site. **Director of CSJ warns of a ‘tsunami of family breakdown battering the country’. **Of children born now; 50% will see their parents split before age 16. Now all that is IMPORTANT and merits blog space and discussion..even disagreement if you will.
    But whether the Courts will be upset with fathers who use their voice through F4J to highlight their problems..as part of the above??
    Phooey!!!
    The fact is that far too many young women nowadays, with their sexual and economic freedom are simply getting pregnant and then saying: ‘they don’t want the father involved’…ask any social worker, cafcass officer…any care professional. The fact is an ever increasing proportion of women want to ‘go it alone’. We are facing a huge sea change in the family and unless all of us- especially your profession and the Courts wake up to it; the consequences for the next generation of children is going to be dire.

    • Anthony,
      Always the womens’ fault, eh?
      The post doesn’t tackle the question of absent or excluded fathers, it simply notes the existence of the website and the potential legal difficulties with it, which I would imagine some of those who have submitted material may be unaware of. You may be right that no action will follow, and others may be right when they speculate some of those who have submitted material may not be terribly put off by the existence of privacy rules. As you know this blog does from time to time tackle more directly the question of contact, difficulties with enforcement and exclusion of fathers, although your views and mine may not coincide entirely.
      Lucy

  57. Nick Langford

    I shall try not to spat and will concede Chambers’ allegation that my criticism of the O’Connors may be seen as personal.

    But there is an important point here, and it is this: it is possible to engage in ‘discussion and debate’ with the Centre for Separated Families and with the Woodalls. It is not possible with the O’Connors. Any questioning of F4J on their forums is ruthlessly removed and the author is banned. It is the same face to face: you cannot discuss the organisation’s principles or policies. You sign up to a set of rules when you join and if you challenge them you are out.

    The reason for this huge difference is clear: Nick and Karen are individuals and are not synonymous either with each other or with the CSF; F4J, on the other hand, IS the O’Connors, and the O’Connors ARE F4J. Any ‘discussion or debate’ thus becomes necessarily personal and will be interpreted as an attack on them, on their most deeply held beliefs, and on their family. They will respond, not with reasoned debate, but personally, as Lucy famously has found.

    This should not, however, deter anyone from criticising the organisation, any more than my former involvement with it should disqualify me from commenting (the parallels with a relationship breakdown had not escaped me).

    Contrary to the impression I seem to have given, I don’t necessarily agree with the position taken by the CSF, but I do think it is clear and consistent. This consistency, indeed, contrasts with the inconsistent and opportunistic approach taken by F4J. Take, for instance, these two statements,

    “I don’t know Karen Woodall, but I believe her intelligent and informed viewpoint is increasingly becoming one of the most essential voices in the debate on family law reform. She is a godsend to the equal parenting movement.”

    [Karen and Nick Woodall are part of] “the motley assortment of one man and two man bands who represent no one apart from their own self-interests, instead of spitting blood at the injustice of the monstrous and barbaric regime that is our family courts which are blighting the lives of an entire generation, they are rapaciously gobbling up taxpayers money funnelled through their government paymasters.”

    Both, it will surprise no one to learn, are from Matt O’Connor. We can legitimately take issue with the CSF and we can engage in discussion and debate with Karen and Nick and others. F4J is different. You cannot engage in any debate with them.

    It is undeniable that the ‘naming-and-shaming’ campaign potentially breaches the Children Act and Administration of Justice Act; it is undeniable that it will hamper on-going cases. As Ruth says, that may not matter to men who have already lost everything. I don’t have a problem with the idea behind the campaign; I do have a problem with F4J’s failure to make the legal situation clear to contributors or to warn them of possible consequences. I also suspect the posts are not being moderated very carefully – if at all – and there are errors and duplications; some posts seem to be no more than misunderstandings of legal procedure and the role of lawyers

    By the way, what Chamber’s calls ‘quiet dignity’ is surely made inescapable by his or her choice of anonymity.

  58. @ Nick Woodall

    Yes I read your response to the FJR previously, you went for the weaker option 2 of ‘regard to a principle’ rather than option 1 ‘courts to work on the presumption’.

    You then go on to say in the ‘key principles’ you want the courts to adopt as you mentioned in your 63 post which is what the the family courts unsuccessfully many times try to do now as I pointed out in my 65. Your key principles mentioned on this thread by you already hugely damage many children and fathers who are/will not be able to aspire to shared parenting as they will be limited to their pre-existing relationship’, and the ‘age and development’ nonsense which the courts rely on so much to side with mothers in minimising contact now – So no real change on what we have now.

    I agree with you that the addition of significant, substantial, influential, strong or meaningful or combination before ‘involvement’ would be helpful, but it is not on offer. You know this but still went for the weaker option 2 rather than ‘courts to work on a presumption’ because this is too radical perhaps.

    Option 1 the choice that won out with the government, I also disagree with some of the unnecessary additional words as well but at least it was a ‘courts to work on a presumption’ – Far more powerful and useful than your preferred option ‘regard to a principle’.

    I am happy to come back in 5 years as well and discuss the precious to so many parents who want to be involved with their children shared parenting law that is going forward presently through the legislative process. It is far from perfect but it will make a difference for many and is an important start in the right direction.

    In the meantime, any chance you can support this shared parenting legislation which is better than nothing even if we give some credence to your views. Or at the very least stop trying to undermine the progress at every opportunity with snipes at the Co-operative Parenting Following Family Separation: Proposed Legislation on the Involvement of Both Parents in a Child’s Life.

    cheers

  59. @ Nick Langford

    Some good points and I do not disagree about O’Connors but in their own special way they have been a very important arm of the shared/equal parenting movement.

    However, F4J have acted as you mention in this way since the start, so I’m sorry if some of us are not overwhelmed by the revelations as we have known this for many years when you were involved with them. Nothing has changed as far as I can see.

    I have the same concerns about unwitting parents who may be hurting their own cases with the latest ‘project’ of F4J but it has always been similar in all sorts of other F4J ‘projects’ over the last decade or so, again maybe no change there.

    Best….

  60. @ familoo

    73 – Perhaps you could ask them to give the full title of your book in your entry, for some publicity.

    Personally I thought it was a good read and I am sure it would be and is very helpful to many LIPs and F4J members. I always recommend it to anyone who will listen to me, unfortunately for your sales that isn’t too many people :-)

    Best….

  61. On the contrary Lucy..our court system’s default setting is that it is always the fathers fault.
    I would urge you…and everyone else on this blog to view the below youtube clip..it is powerful stuff..and explains EXACTLY what is wrong with our Family Courts.

    [edited]

    It is from a 16yo Girl who fought for 11 years to live with her father…but various judges/courts/Social Workers and school teachers refused to listen to her. Now she is an ‘adult’ she can speak out..and has had the courage to do so. If you as a profession won’t listen to fathers…you have to listen to the children of those fathers: ‘We do everything in “the best interests of the children”. Oh yere- what a sick joke!!

    • Sorry, can’t publish link Anthony. I would quite like to but for all the usual reasons can’t.

  62. I wish your contributors (and yourself) would not get so partisan in favour of either fathers or mothers.Granted both should normally have face to face access ,but the real crime occurs when either father or mother is denied even indirect access by phone,email,facebook,or post under pain of jail for the slightest transgression.Examples being Vicky Haigh(named in parliament) and countless others who cannot be named otherwise I and you familoo would also be in jail !

  63. Chambers

    “Your key principles mentioned on this thread by you already hugely damage many children and fathers who are/will not be able to aspire to shared parenting as they will be limited to their pre-existing relationship’, and the ‘age and development’ nonsense which the courts rely on so much to side with mothers in minimising contact now – So no real change on what we have now.”

    Not sure if you’re deliberately misinterpreting our principles but I guess you are. On the other hand, perhaps you actually do believe that children should simply be whisked off to spend half of their time with an adult they don’t know. If that is the case, then you and I have very little in common and I am happy to argue against the damaging position you adopt.

    Last word from me. If you believe the Children and Families Bill will make any difference whatsoever for dads, you’re either in denial or possess a level of optimism not seen since Ally MacLeod said Scotland would win the 1978 World Cup!

    Best wishes, Nick.

  64. @ Nick Woodall

    So there you go, the scare story tactics and extreme caution that the the Courts already use is fully supported by the Woodalls.

    Nick says children are at risk of being “whisked off” to spend half the time with “an adult they don’t know” unless the courts follow the Woodalls key principles.

    This is typical dinosaur social worker/scaremongering, the undermining of parents by referring to them as adults children don’t know. The fear factor terminology of saying children are being whisked off. The alluding to half of their time with the other parent as a real problem.

    The reality is that children are not being whisked off, they would be spending time with loving and caring parents. They are not spending time with adults they don’t know but fathers and mothers who love and want to care for them. What is wrong with children spending half their time with both parents if the practicalities allow?

    Your long-standing stance is fully in line with the worst of court practices:
    Base parenting schedules on the “pre-existing relationship”. So a couple where one parent worked and the other stayed at home because that was the practical arrangements that made sense, in the Woodalls view and the Courts view this should carry on with one parent remaining the primary carer and the other the walking wallet with a visiting role with weekends thrown in, because that was the “pre-existing relationship”. Not taking in to account how parents roles change on separation many times or the fact that courts very often get it wrong in thinking they know what the roles were in a relationship. No change there from what happens now from Nick.

    What about the increasing amount of couples who separate in the early years of a child. They will be consigned to what the court decides was the “pre-existing relationship” and on separation mothers will continue to say they breast-fed and fathers roles were limited blah blah blah and the courts will believe this. When the child gets older, fathers will continue to be determined by the courts to have a limited “pre-existing relationship” with their child as that is all they have been allowed. With the Woodalls key principles this continues with a derisory limited court order as it does now.

    Then we have the Woodalls “age and development” key principle which mirrors the worst of Cafcass and the Courts. In practice this means a young child will be limited to a few hours a week, we can’t have overnights against the mothers will because we have to be mindful of the “age and development” of the child. Then as they grow older on this limited time with the father, the other key principle of the Woodalls kicks in once again “the pre-existing relationship”, so children are going to be limited alternate weekends and holidays if they are lucky, same as they are now.

    Then the biggest fear perhaps of Nick is that the children will be whisked off to “spend half of their time” with an adult they don’t know, in other words forget about shared parenting arrangements it’s too scary for most children, exactly what the detractors of shared parenting laws always say.

    None of this takes into account that children are ‘whisked off’ to nurseries and childminders for substantial amounts of time and cope well from an early age. Bearing in mind that a parents care is also better than nurseries and childminders generally.

    Nothing in the Woodalls key principles to say that if the practicalities allow, such as distance and work, then there should be a presumption of shared parenting (by the way this is not confined to 50/50 as you scare monger).

    In fact the key principle they proclaim is they do ‘not’ support a presumption that children spend equal amounts of time, so parents who are close to each other and have the work schedule to work with 50/50 are not going to get the support of the Woodalls in their key principals. No difference from the courts presently then.

    The woolly thinking is pervasive and results in the Woodalls backing a ‘regard to a principle’ rather than what is needed ‘courts to work on a presumption’. With Nick’s views we have a continuation of what we have presently in the family court system. Despite all the lofty fine and oft repeated words of the Woodalls in public and behind the scenes, which in reality undermine shared parenting laws. Because the reality is their thinking is no different to what dads already face in the system very often from the professionals who make the decisions.

    • Chambers, as far as I can force myself to understand it I think you are misrepresenting Nick Woodall’s stated position somewhat. No doubt you will say not.
      However, I think I’m going to draw this dialogue to a close as it’s not really getting anywhere and I’m slightly losing the will to live. Lucy

  65. There’s something rather mad about all this…

    God knows who this motley cast of characters are, but there’s something very dispiriting about the fact that half of them seem content to fight amongst themselves against the splitters from whatever the true cause is.

    That, and Fathers for Justice (and Mr O’Connor in particular) seem to be rather unpleasant people—I’m not entirely sure what you have done to them such that you have merited a listing on their website from the president himself… Although frankly, having read the various entries the website is just ridiculous and seems to be nothing more than another place for ranting.

  66. Devil’s in the detail familoo. I believe your position is far closer to Nick Woodall’s than mine when it comes to shared parenting laws.

    Best to bring it to a close though I agree, even tho I have a strong interest in shared parenting discussions, I am losing the will to live on this thread.

    Jim Nately -

    I’ve seen plenty of lawyers hotly arguing the toss, some with rather disturbing and strange views on various forums and social media. Dispiriting no, just part of life, cmon you know that…..

  67. Deion Luscombe

    Not sure whether Chambers knows this, but the motley crew know who he is, don’t know why he doesnt come out from behind his decisive family law mask and play nicely like the rest of us.

  68. The governments proposed shared parenting legislation is too important to worry about upsetting those who oppose it by pointing out why they are flawed in their thinking.

    Thanks Deion Luscombe :-) but I’m quite happy with my handle and I always play nicely but effectively.

    Best wishes to the motley crew.

  69. In #80 Anthony links to a 16 year old speaking out about her family law experience. In #83 you say that you’d like to publish the link but cannot. Presumably to protect this adult. In #88 you publish what I read as a threat to Chambers, presumably an adult. You choose to protect one adult, not the other. Indeed, in the later it is your blog that is employed as the weapon of choice and you allow it. Why the different treatment? Is it because one adult is a female and deserves special care over and above that of a male? Is it because one exposes the hypocrisy and corruption of the very industry in which you choose to work, whereas the other serves to protect it? I’m not clear on your reasoning here. It appears that you selectively allow information that suits your purposes, even if it means allowing a threat to be made and if it involves denying a voice to a victim you would perhaps otherwise claim to support. Well, as long as they have the means to pay your fees I’m guessing. Maybe you could explain. Ultimately, its your blog (respect) and you can allow or deny to your hearts content. However, I’m forming the opinion that you are not exactly playing it fair here and I’d wager that I’m not the only one to notice. Why not allow a young female to speak out in answer to this debate? It’s a wonderful luxury you enjoy to endlessly debate a contentious and emotive subject whilst earning a living from it (meagre or otherwise) and turning a deaf ear to those that dare to speak out from direct experience. I’d imagine that’s quite uncomfortable.

  70. I have to say I didn’t read it as a threat – if I had I wouldn’t have published it. It simply says they know who he is. They probably do. It doesn’t say more. But in any event I’m sure Chambers will tell me if he thinks it was threatening.

    In answer to your more general point : it’s my blog. I don’t decline or edit many comments but I do have a clear and transparent policy on it which is set out in the about page. I usually only edit for legal reasons. If people don’t like my judgment calls they can go elsewhere.

    L

  71. Pete

    You’re right it was a blatant attempt to intimidate.

    Sadly, some when their posts have been exposed as twaddle resort to such, which tells you all you need to know about them.

  72. Lucy,

    your post 91 is a little mischievous, wide of the mark and a wee bit partisan although it’s not particularly unexpected, it is your blog after all to do with as you will.

    You can change the rules as you go along and most of us will still play as we are hugely grateful for this or any platform to discuss these important family law matters more widely.

    • Chambers, it emphatically wasn’t mischievous. I considered it but thought that, on analysis, it wasn’t a threat (I still think that’s right). However, I take the point that it could nonetheless have been interpreted as threatening. I’m sorry if I got that judgment call wrong. My recent experience is of pretty direct and blatant attempts to intimidate or harass, so perhaps I was looking for the wrong thing in this instance.
      L

  73. Hi Pete,
    Yes…I wondered why Lucy wouldn’t publish the link…then couldn’t be bothered to find out as she still wdn’t publish it..so I’m v glad u brought it up. The link needs to be published far and wide…I have already sent it to my MP.
    If u can give me your email address on here..i will send u link…if others want it..i might publish mine (am i likely to be avalanched with abusive emails Lucy?)
    BTW I have since learnt that the Girl and her Father have since gone to Australia…could that be anything to do with them being so disgusted with our FL system? Dunno!

    • You are all free to publicise the link through other sites, but not this one. Similarly I’m not going to allow comments to operate as a dating agency or contact exchange point to achieve the same end.
      Sorry.

  74. Lucy,

    Better thought: Would you be able to pass on my email address to anyone who asks for the link on here?

  75. Lucy publishes what I have to say even though she violently disagrees with most of it and with many of her other contributors. Pink Tape is nevertheless an excellent site.We should give her due credit for this……..

  76. Deion Luscombe

    No-one is trying to intimidate Chambers, who indeed could he is a one man haranguing machine. I am not someone who is connected to the motley crew, as labelled by someone else in here, I am however aware of who he is and of the pointlessness of public debate with him. I simply do not understand why, when everyone else knows who he is, they ever bother to give him the oxygen, so hell bent he is on his mission, surely its best just to let him get on with it, anyway that’s all I have to say, the whole thing is just a mish mash of in fighting anyway, don’t know why the Langfords or the Woodalls bother with any of it, apologies for the generic use of family names there.

  77. I don’t know who Chambers is or anything about his single-minded ways but I made the same point at 67, as he later did, about the foolhardiness of keeping to pre-existing patterns of care and the likelihood that this would lead to a father being locked out long term. I note Mr Woodall didn’t care to answer the concerns I have too with the approach he advocates. I think it all got sidetracked by Chambers-bashing.

    I note that in cases of severe alienation, the advice from medical child experts is simply to plonk the alienated child with his father and that lesser measures don’t work. That too is at variance with Mr Woodall’s softly-softly approach, which the expert in at least one renown 2010 case predicted would not work and in actual fact did not. A “significantly harmed” young boy ended up back with his alienation-inducing mother, a total failure in duty of care all round.

    • Paul – but not all cases where a child is unfamiliar with a father or is unused to spending prolonged periods away from a primary caring mother are cases of alienation. Your comment elides the two things doesn’t it? Without going back to analyse the thread I think that Nick Woodall was not talking about alienation cases at all.

  78. We are all aware that Mr Woodall wasn’t talking about alienation. Neither was I.

    I was providing one credible example where a pre-existing pattern of care is precisely what you have to ‘whisk a child away from,’ to use Mr Woodall’s own, over-emotive terminology.

    Smashing up a pre-existing pattern of care is precisely what is required in thousands of other situations. Provided that dad is competent and caring, it all works out.

    It’s a load of rubbish that fathers cannot do the job that mothers are supposed to do best.

  79. Name-calling and nasty comments are not a substitute for debate. So lets ask you once again to try and stick to the discussion rather than resorting to such childish diversions.

    Nick Woodall started the debate #16 on the amendments to the Children Act, he raised it first. So why when he is queried on it and alternative views are put forward is there a problem?

    I don’t agree with his view that a Presumption of Shared Parenting in law is worthless, why is it not okay to point this out to Nick Woodall and say it is very disappointing that he will not support these changes albeit it is not fully what many of us would like.

    If Nick Woodall is going to come on this thread and talk about the new amendments to the Children Act in a disparaging way, then he is going to be challenged.

    It’s no good saying you want equality but when you get the opportunity to respond to the FJR, going for the weak option of a ‘regard to a principle’ rather than the ‘courts to work on a presumption’ which is a far stronger option.

    If Nick Woodall does not want to be challenged on his views, then don’t start a discussion undermining the ‘presumption’.

    As for the pre-existing relationship nonsense and child’s ‘age and development’ which Nick Woodall again first raised on this thread. Why can’t he be asked to explain himself. The pre-existing relationship and age and development arguments are made routinely by the courts and Cafcass to limit a fathers relationship with their children. It’s no good putting this forward first on a public thread and then complaining when challenged on these flawed views.

    Paul is right that no answers have been forthcoming from Nick Woodall on these questions, after he brought these points up first, just silly comments about the Scotland football team and the like.

    • Gosh Chambers you talk as if a childs age and stage of development or the pre-existing relationship are never relevant. surely they are legitimately one of the many circumstances that should be considered, and that can be done without it amounting to some sort of presumption against a change in arrangements to enable the development of a fledgling relationship?

  80. @ familoo

    I think you will find Paul was talking about two separate points in his 2 separate paragraphs. Sure he will correct me if I am wrong.

    Para 1 is regarding the ‘pre-existing relationships’ principle being carried forward by the courts as Nick Woodall proclaims and posted and that it would lead often to a father being reduced or stopped in maintaining their relationship with the child.

    Para 2 was in regard to ‘severe alienation’ cases where there is one view of a softly-softly approach to resuming the relationship and another view of experts that there should be a far more radical approach, as he mentioned in the 2010 case.

    • Chambers, Paul may well have been talking about two different points. I am sorry to say that I have not got a photographic memoroy or a precise recollection of the meanderings of this thread and as I said before have not had the energy to go back and track it through. Do you lot do NOTHING but cogitate on the intricacies and contradictions in this thread? ;-)

    • Chambers, Paul may well have been talking about two different points. I am sorry to say that I have not got a photographic memoroy or a precise recollection of the meanderings of this thread and as I said before have not had the energy to go back and track it through. Do you lot do NOTHING but cogitate on the intricacies and contradictions in this thread? ;-)…

  81. maraputiowels

    It was Mr Langford quoting Matt who called the Woodalls the motley crue. Then DL threatens Chambers about knowing who he is. DLs next post says he is not connected to the motley crue but if true why does she or he say they know the motley crue know who Chambers is. Dodgy.

    I’m with Pete as why threats allowed on blog for one adult but other is protected (link). Good for goose good for gander. Fair, not.

    • Well I don’t know who you are mr or mrs maraputiowels (ironically anonymous?) but if you read my stated policy and comments on this and other threads you will see why I have taken a different approach to the link and to the other comments. I have no particular interest in favouring one or other of the parties to this particular disagreement. Frankly I can’t even remember who is saying what, although I generally disagree with each of you at least once a week – so any inconsistency is not down to partisanship on my part.
      You crack on boys by all means. Argue amongst yourselves….

  82. deion luscombe

    Doesn’t the pointlessness of all of this just go to show how much of a waste of time it is trying to state a position which is different to Chambers and his merry men. I can’t see anywhere where Nick Woodall has complained about anything that Chambers has done and the person who coined the phrase Motley Crew was Jim Nately, not Nick Langford. (sad that I have time to monitor this thread even if no-one else has). I am a mother who is interested in this issue because I have been prevented from having a relationship with my children, so I read a lot about who is doing something about it. So far, on this thread, I have seen commentary that makes sense from everyone bar Chambers who just seems like he has it in for everyone who doesn’t agree with him. Just seems like a pointless waste of time to me and clearly the Langfords and Woodalls feel the same way as I see none have them have bothered to carry on the nonsence, good on them, they have clearly got better things to do so as Familoo says, carry on boys, the floor is all yours.

  83. @ familoo post 107

    ‘age and development’ & ‘pre-existing relationship’ are always going to be factors but not as key principles as Nick Woodall states should happen. They are already taken into account under The Welfare Checklist anyway.

    To have them as key principles would be a step backwards for many children and fathers (usually). It will have the effect of reinforcing the status quo argument in many cases and proving the extent of a pre-existing relationship will be difficult as previously posted. Age and development similarly will be a further excuse to hold progression back as it is often used presently. The Welfare Checklist covers these adequately.

    • Chambers, One person’s excuse is another person’s child centred reason. I’m really unclear where you would draw the line between a factor and a key principle, and appropriate weight and inappropriate weight. Sounds like its fine to take it into account as long as it doesn’t hinder the ultimate game plan.

  84. @ familioo post 108/109

    Just trying to help out. Plenty to do but attention to this thread does not take up very much time at all really. It aint that taxing. I guess none of us are running our own blogs, just participating from time to time. This is more recreational :-)

  85. Deion Luscombe :-)

    Three posts with zero content on the discussion on shared parenting laws, merely invective and attempts at threats from you. Your rationale is pretty easy to understand although a little sad to say the least.

    P.S. For what its worth, ‘maraputiowels is correct about ‘motley’. Having checked it was Nick Langford quoting Matt O’Connor about the Woodalls in post 75 then Jim Nateley in post 85.

    maraputiowels is also correct it is a little “dodgy” you first coming on here out the blue attempting to threaten that the ‘motley crew’ (‘Woodalls’ according to Matt O’Connor) know who I was. Then you backtracking in your next post saying you were not connected to them. Pointless exercise but quite revealing about you.

    Anyway if you ever want to have a discussion about shared parenting legislation, you know where to come.

  86. Not sure I see any of Chamber’s merry men, Deion. But your previous posts, specifically nos 88 and 100, show you as a fully-fledged member of that motley crew who happen to make personal remarks against someone whom you all happen to disagree with.

    As you are someone prevented from having a relationship with your children, I would have thought that Chambers – with his more radical views on the need for equity and fairness in family law reform – was advocating a position more likely to produce a better outcome for you personally.

    Or is there something else about this Chambers, that blinds you entirely to the 50:50 legal presumption in post-separation parenting that he argues for?

    • Right. I am closing comments on this thread now. Whilst for some of you it is some kind of bizarre recreation, I have to read all these comments in order to moderate them. And I feel like I am in the centre of a whirlpool. FIN.