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  • The time to halt #Family Court injustice is NOW!
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  • 13/09/2022 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: Daveyone ( 2 articles in 2022 )
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Family Justice Review : My Version!

Dedicated to Eddie and Matthew.
This Autumn The Ministry of Justice in London will publish its findings of the Family Justice Review to which I participated as part of the Partners Group who has contributed to this enquiry for the past 18 months. I have already detected a number of shortfalls, therefore I have set out my Version of how it should read from my first hand experience at entering Family Court in March 2004. My contact with Family Court Judges, Solicitors, Barristers, CAFCASS, Social Services and Police ultimately to the CSA and above all the impact this has on my Children for when this should have been ‘in their best interest’. Instead what I witnessed between March and October 2004 ranged from inconsistency to outright corruption. Therefore I embarked on what has become almost 8 years of research worldwide within input right across the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Greece and a number of European Countries. I have converted my findings into a frank and honest Blog and I regard this Blog as the defining culmination by this reluctant campaign.
I hope that any shortfall in the Ministry of Justice version on the Family Justice Review can be made up from my contribution here and both could lead to this God awful law being reformed!
C.S.A./CAFCASS: For me The Coalition Government could make immediate savings by disbanding both of these ineffectual organisations, neither have a place in Family Justice as I will show in the following paragraphs:-

SOCIAL SERVICES: I believe Social Services has no place in Family Court (they are ill-equipped) and rather like CAFCASS will offer the Family Judge a snapshot and spurious testimony to which a Judge feels duty bound to apply, making CAFCASS and Social Services his scapegoat for the future, to offer irreversible orders to whom nobody beyond that Judge can scrutinise.

Social Services should only be called upon in the case where there is a ‘History’ of Violence or Abuse prior to a couple coming to Court NOT as a weapon of false allegations once they have arrived at Court. Social Services should be left to concentrate on Child Welfare so Horror Stories, such as Baby P, Victoria Climbie and Khyra Ishaq are reduced.

FAMILY COURT JUDGE: Of the 6 or so Judges I came before most were reasoned balanced people who even if I regard their view as against me I saw the reasoning behind it. I did however come before one patronising and biased Judge who seemed to perpetuate premise of Single Parenting and by strange coincidence at this time I read an article that said Ambitious Judges who go against the Father have greater chance of promotion and so was the case here. This D.J. reserved my case for her sole consideration but was made up to H.H.J. during the process so failed to appear at the final hearing, instead a fellow D.J. whom I regarded as her ‘Lacky’ sat in and just went along with the biased Judges’ rhetoric.

Closed Court precludes any balance analysis of proceedings and when Jack Straw as our one time Justice Minister attempted to ‘Open’ the Court, he was met by derision by the very Judges who should have been called to account. Camilla Cavendish, who won an award for her Family Law column in The Times, was one of the first Journalists to be invited into Family Court in Ipswich and it was clear to me that at that time the same safeguards put in place for sensitive criminal cases could apply to Civil Laws, i.e. Child A, Family XYZ or even a serial number Journalists could refer to a case when given out to news of Parliament.

Judges either willingly or otherwise collude with Barristers and Solicitors in perpetuating this corruption where financial gain can be achieved by their Court, rarely do they benefit either party, least of all the children involved and due to the closed nature of these Courts there is no accountability (if you appeal is it likely one Judge will contradict another).
Money is the fuel to injustice and closed courts hide this fact from public scrutiny!
BARRISTERS AND SOLICITORS: The moment a couple steps into the Family Solicitors office they are perpetual conflict and whilst some Solicitors claim to offer Arbitration services (mine and my ex-partners did not), this goes against the grain of what they want to do, which insures they plunder the Legal Aid system for Mum whilst rendering Dad bankrupt with no regard to the Child’s welfare as they are supposed to subscribe to in Court. The Barristers take a similar line, I spent an entire duration debating the safety of allowing my Children to ride on their Go-Karts near the Road and the last 2 minutes for me to be told to leave the Family Home! All Smoke and Mirrors I’m afraid which because claimants should they want to perpetuate false allegations, which on one occasion for me was that I was an alcoholic (in fact I drink less alcohol in a year than some do in one weekend) spurious as in fact at the time I was employed to drive 40 tonne trucks for Salisbury’s, Tesco and M & S, I doubt if these would have allowed such a person to take charge of a £100,000 vehicle and Loads of a similar value.
The Law Society, or whatever they call themselves these days, cannot make a complaint against a firm of Solicitors for fear of being sued, they do not have the teeth to regulate as they should!
GRANDPARENTS: At the beginning of June this year I read a copy of The Mature Times and was dismayed to learn that the Family Justice Review did not see the merit in giving Grandparents rights of contact with their Grandchildren. I am of the view that when Parents maybe in dispute and possibly separating, who better to offer stability and continuity to children than Grandparents or other Family Members where appropriate.( Thanks Sir Bob).
Surely this would be better then Social services making their trademark snap-shot appraisals that all too often can result in children ending up in irreversible care. The very people who Social Services and family court should be serving , the children end up living a life full on the regrets instilled by this very system. I have an example of a case where a parents dogs often barked, it turned out they had kennels so the RSPCA were called but no problems were found none the less the Social Services got wind inspected the home and an 8 year old girl was put into irreversible care even when it was later proved there was no problems here either!

Police: The police have no role to play in family (civil) law as they can only deal with criminal law but it does illustrate the starkest discrimination the law has to offer.
In my case the initial court order allowed contact with my children to take place via the schools so as to avoid conflict with the mother we would each collect and return them to school at our contact times and this worked fine for over one year.Sadly , and with the help of the biased judge contact was changed so it had to take place outside the former family home. So as per the revised court order I would show up at the prescribed time and place ready to take my sons on for the evening or weekend etc, but then the mother would start withholding the youngest which caused more problems when it later turned out she was bribing him to stay whilst my eldest was almost penalised for coming with me. When I objected to my son being with held, ( he was always pleased to see me after school) the police would be called and in spite of me waving my court order almost Chamberlain style they were unable to enforce it on the mother but were happy to arrest me for breaching the peace if I did not leave confusing the old boy so by 2007 he to was with held and to this date I have not had any of the Court appointed contact and all the police will say is take the mater back to court, what is the point? Mothers are regarded as ‘civil’ whilst Fathers are seen as criminal!

Childhood is such a short span of time we should protect it at all costs!

Children: Children in all walks of life have been given rights in order to protect them and this is right and proper.Except, I believe, between the ages of 11 and 16 where I feel Parental responsibility should not be overruled by a child’s right when all to often they are too young to reason the ramifications. It cannot be right that a child can sue a parent for a relatively minor dispute or indeed be allowed to make false allegations just ask the teacher too!
However in the sacred secret world of Family Court who’s continued rhetoric is ” in the children’s best interest!” seldom allow the children to be heard and all the judge has to work with is a contrived interpretation from a court reporter (SS or CAFCASS) where mother has been the dominating force so the children end up acting on her will not what they truly want which in most cases is to see as much of both parents as possible in spite of separation!
I will go into this more in the paragraph headed The Process further on. I do however believe that children who reach secondary school age should be given the right to alter a court order as their live will become more flexible in their teens and they may just wish o pop in and see either parent at odd times and should not be constrained by an order designed to show them routine and stability in their younger years. Also there may be times a child wants to play football and have dad there during mum’s contact and mum may want to take them to the cinema during dads contact this should be agreed amicably and not by seeking to score points off each other or try to show one parent in a better light then the other. Mothers should no longer be seen as the resident parent and father as the absent one, they should be equal in their parental responsibilities.

PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY: The most important role a person can have in life is that of a Parent. We all come to it with trepidation and rely on our Parents’ experience to handle the initial ‘shock’, but by the time a second child comes along skills are gained and we feel more relaxed, but nonetheless most parents will still have their childrens’ best interests at heart.
One of my children had a soft nature so would cry or object to the slightest thing when young. My other Son was more robust and would walk in with blood dripping from his knee from a football injury but would say nothing. As a caring Dad I would apply the same level of care to both children just in case.

I would link PR to equal Parenting, both Parents would appear on the Birth Certificate should be subjected in law to being responsible for their Child’s Welfare to the age of 18 or leaving home/full time education. Not only in the case of nurturing, education, feeding and home security but as a child gets older and is capable of breaking the law whilst their age all to often enables them to be immune from the law and at such times I believe the Parents (BOTH) should be liable for Fines, Reparation even imprisonment in the case of a Child committing a serious offence such as Rape or Murder.

This I believe would focus the minds of Parents from the start (and maybe would be under age Parents) that it is down to them to make the best effort to do the right thing for their children and not to enter into such an undertaking without considering such facts that could lead to legal ramifications.

I would give credit to much of my opinions on child welfare to Shaun Bailey. He is a wise head on young shoulders and certainly inspires me, I just wish others would listen to this quietly spoken champion of the young!
As a Sub-Heading to this paragraph I would seek to align School with a remit of PR. We entrust Teachers with the care and welfare of our Children for a larger part of their childhood than we see them ourselves so in respect to the Teachers and our responsibility as Parents we should share the task of instilling morals, respect and responsibility onto young minds. Children should be controlled and disciplined when needed by Parents and equally by Teachers. I would also suggest this points to the Education fraternity.

1.Children to be monitored throughout their Primary years including Pre-School and a Report drawn up in the Final Year of Primary School that outlines an individuals’ potential, so that any shortfalls are clearly identified before they move onto Secondary Education and endeavours are made to eradicate such shortfalls before the end of Year 6.
2.Year 6 should be seen as a preparatory year in readiness for what the Child will have to face at Secondary School and to be aware of Peer pressure, Media pressure, the importance of what they can attain from an appropriate Education, Legal Studies, so rights and ramifications can be investigated then finally Sex Education, as by age 11 children would have some understanding today.
3.A true appraisal of an individuals’ ability assessed, so those who excel in academia can follow that route. Those who do not, should be encouraged in aspects they do excel at, such as, Sports, Arts, Music etc and so long as they are supported in the basics of Reading and Writing, should from Year 7 be directed toward vocational training so they can learn Skills and Trades more appropriate to their ability.
4.National Service seems to carry some form of stigma who went through it in the Post War Years. I would however, advocate those children who seek to leave School without Qualification at the earliest leaving date, should be made aware they will only be eligible for Benefit which will only be paid by attending some form of apprenticeship or Further Education culminating in the completion within a minimum 3 Year Course, that they will then leave with a recognised Qualification or Vocational Skill, otherwise the previous 3 year benefit payment will be refundable to the Educational Authority.
It is important that we start now as this proposal will take at least a generation to come through in real terms and a better attitude will emerge by those given this opportunity as our Citizens of the future.
The last question asked on the M.O.J enquiry was ” What question should we have asked?” I offered the suggestion that the number of suicides attributed to failing Family Courts and CSA worldwide should be considered!

No good wearing a purple scarf Dave if you don't really mean it!
Would you prefer this;
Or this? Davey's Law!

THE PROCESS: FAMILY JUSTICE REFORMED: Separating Parents should BOTH be eligible for £500 in Legal Aid so as to arrive at a conciliatory process for the ultimate benefit and security of the children and should submit their claims simultaneously to an Arbitration Service such as ACAS for a jointly agreed order referring to:-

Shared Care
Parental Responsibility
Contact (Reviewable when a Child reaches Age11)
Financial Settlement and Maintenance
This Contract should be binding and presented to a Senior Judge who will also confirm this is Legal and Binding and up to both parties to ensure it works otherwise it is enforceable on each Parent.

Solicitors and Barristers would not be required at this stage as there would be no disputes and therefore would not need to be perpetuated.

Social Services and CAFCASS need not apply, unless there is a history of Violence, Abuse or threat to the Childrens’ Welfare by EITHER Parent. If the Judge has any concerns he should have access to the Familys’ Medical history and thereafter order an investigation so as to prevent false allegations arising at point of separation.

Once it is made clear that this order is binding and enforceable on BOTH Parents, should they wish to return matters to Court it will have to be at the individuals’ own expense as no future Legal Aid will be available and this should focus minds by all concerned to get it right first time.
I have sought to remove the financial incentives and conflict from the Family Court so there would be very rare need for Solicitors, Barristers and social services there!
Grandparents should also have rights of access after separation, but where possible to have access to coincide with the Parents Contact, but above all to be there to show support, stability and continuity to very young children.

Childrens’ Schooling should not be disrupted and both Parents should stay in close contact with the School as often as possible.

Parents should also keep the Children with the same Family GP and notify each other of any concerns that may occur during their respective contact times.
See the full version including my latest letter from the Ministry of Justice by clicking on this blogs title,now we can see what we are up against;
Betrayal of the family: Despite all those Tory promises, fathers and grandparents will still be denied the right to see children after a divorce
Fathers will be denied the right to have a 'meaningful relationship' with their families, report suggests
Iain Duncan Smith will fight to do more for men, his aides pledge
UPDATED: 09:05, 3 November 2011

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Fathers and grandparents will not be given any legal right to see children after a break-up, under the biggest changes to family law in a generation.

In what was immediately denounced as a ‘betrayal’ of the family, a major report today rules against giving men shared or equal time with their children when a relationship ends.

It suggests fathers will even be denied the legal right to maintain a ‘meaningful relationship’ with their families, as this ‘would do more harm than good’.

Frozen out: Both fathers and grandparents could lose the right to see children under a huge shake-up to family law
Frozen out: Both fathers and grandparents could lose the right to see children under a huge shake-up to family law

The review also kicks into touch Coalition pledges to make it easier to maintain contact with grandchildren when parents separate, a problem that usually affects those on the father’s side.

The long-awaited Family Justice Review was branded a ‘monstrous sham’ that undermines David Cameron’s pledge to lead the most family-friendly government in history.


Fathers lose bid for equal custody rights after review of family law
The independent report was commissioned by ministers to examine the case for reform of a family law system repeatedly accused of putting rights of mothers over those of fathers and grandparents.

But its proposals – likely to form the basis of future government family policy – sparked an immediate Cabinet revolt.

Pledge: The Prime Minister promised to lead the most family-friendly Government in historyWork and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, right, has promised to do more for fathers and grandparents
Pledge: David Cameron, pictured yesterday, promised to lead the most family-friendly Government in history. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, right, will do more for fathers and grandparents, his allies said

Break-up: Fathers will lose the right to have a meaningful relationship with their children when they split from their partner, the long-awaited Family Justice Review appeared to suggest
Break-up: Fathers will lose the right to have a meaningful relationship with their children when they split from their partner, the long-awaited Family Justice Review appeared to suggest

Allies of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said he would fight to ensure the Government’s response – due to be published in January – will do more for fathers and grandparents.

A source close to the Cabinet minister said that the findings were ‘absurd’, warning that they undermined attempts to tackle the generation of fatherless youths blamed for the summer’s riots.

But Justice Secretary Ken Clarke is expected to back the review, chaired by former civil servant and Marks & Spencer executive David Norgrove.

His report was commissioned by Labour and dismissed by the Tories in Opposition as inadequate but will now form the basis of Coalition legislation.

The review comes against a backdrop of soaring divorce rates and increasing numbers of children being born out of wedlock, often to co-habitees who are more likely to break up than married couples.

Last year there were almost three million children aged under 16 living in a lone-parent household – or 24 per cent of the total.

Mr Norgrove’s findings fly in the face of studies showing that it is best for a child to have extensive access to both its father and mother.

The report says: ‘No legislation should be introduced that creates or risks creating the perception that there is a parental right to substantially shared or equal time for both parents.’

Mr Norgrove has even watered down his own interim report, published in March, which said there should be a legal presumption that children should have a ‘meaningful relationship’ with both parents.

Millionaire: David Norgrove

The head of the Family Justice Review is a millionaire economist with three children of his own.

David Norgrove, 63, pictured, earned a reputation as a tough taskmaster during 16 years in a string of senior roles at Marks & Spencer.

He quit in 2004 following a disastrous set of Christmas results for the retailer, taking with him a £754,000 pay-off and a £100,000-a-year pension.

As trustee of the firm’s pension fund he then famously saw off a hostile £9.1billion takeover bid from Sir Philip Green.

Mr Norgrove, who lives in Islington, North London, took an unlikely career break, flying to New Zealand for a six-week stint as a farmhand.

But the former Treasury economist – who served as Margaret Thatcher’s private secretary in Downing Street – soon returned to work, becoming the first chairman of the Pensions Regulator in 2005.

He remains chairman of the Low Pay Commission.

Mr Norgrove believes that enshrining such rights in law could slow down already lengthy and expensive custody cases.

Instead, the courts will simply have to consider the benefits of a meaningful relationship when they decide where children should live and how often they should see each parent.

The final report flatly rejected claims by fathers’ rights groups that the current system is biased – despite figures showing that 93 per cent of custody battles are won by the mother.

Nadine O’Connor, of the Fathers 4 Justice campaign group, said: ‘The review is a monstrous sham and a bureaucratic exercise in improving the efficiency of injustice. It will feed the epidemic of mass fatherlessness and lead to further social unrest.

‘This report condemns children to a life without fathers with catastrophic social consequences.’

The report also contradicts pledges by senior officials earlier this year that grandparents would be given far greater rights.

Instead, they will still have to apply to court twice to see their grandchildren: once for the right to begin a case and then to seek access to their loved ones.

The Norgrove panel merely issued a tepid recommendation that their role should be ‘emphasised’.

Instead of legal protections for fathers and grandparents, the Norgrove report laid out plans to encourage parents to settle disputes before they get to court.

All parents will be given advice on drawing up ‘parenting agreements’ to divide the care of their children.

James Deuchars, of Grandparents Apart UK, said: ‘The Tories said before the election that grandparents were going to have more rights. This is a betrayal of that promise. It was all a con and a gimmick.

‘This report is trying to do away with the traditional family. The result will be more bitter and disillusioned young boys who join gangs.’

A source close to Mr Cameron said the Government has ‘certainly not’ pledged to adopt all the report’s recommendations.

But a source close to Mr Clarke described it as ‘an authoritative account of the problems and a thoughtful look at the solutions’.

The report also said no childcare case should last more than six months and recommended the creation of a Family Justice Service to focus the work of all agencies for the 500,000 children and adults caught up in the family courts each year.

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