Monday, June 27, 2011

Hunger 4 Justice in the UK

 
Fathers 4 Justice Founder to Hunger Strike at Cameron’s Home Email your support to office@fathers-4-justice.org The founding father of Fathers 4 Justice will begin the first ever hunger strike for fathers rights in July on the 10th anniversary of Fathers 4 Justice, outside the Witney home of Prime Minister David Cameron. 44 year-old father-of-three Matt O’Connor from Andover, Hampshire will launch his ‘Hunger4Justice’ protest at 9.00am on Sunday 10th July after he has delivered a personal letter to the Prime Minister’s home. The hunger strike is a direct response to the Prime Ministers comments at the weekend in which he labelled fathers as ‘runaways’ who should be treated the same way as drink drivers. He will forgo all food until the Prime Minister retracts his remarks and adheres to written pre-election commitments made to Fathers 4 Justice to reform Britain’s Secret Family Courts which the group say he has reneged on. 

O’Connor will be based in a support vehicle during the hunger strike with a team led by Dr Nadim Safdar who will advise on his condition during the strike and run a social media campaign from the site. Mr O’Connor met with Bill Cash MP in Parliament on Wednesday 22nd June to discuss the Prime Ministers comments and asked him to pass on his announcement on to Mr Cameron. Bill Cash was the first MP O’Connor had met to discuss the issue 10 years ago this month. Fathers 4 Justice say O’Connor’s decision is a highly personal one, rooted in his Irish heritage where hunger strikes have been used throughout history to highlight injustice. Said Campaign Director Nadine O’Connor, “Matt O’Connor was devastated by what he considers is Cameron’s betrayal of children and families and his demonisation of fathers on Fathers Day in a cynical piece of dad bashing which will appeal to the largest constituency of floating voters, single mothers.” 

“He also believes the ‘Big Society’ initiative is a sham and that far from creating a strong society, the polices of the Conservative led coalition are actively destroying it.” “On the 10th anniversary of forming F4J, he wants to bring his personal message home; from his home, to Cameron’s home, from father to father. It is the antithesis of previous Fathers 4 Justice protests, stripped of humour and costumes.” 

“He believes fathers have been reduced to the status of cashpoints in a country where 1 in 3 children grows up without a dad.” “Given the denigration and demonization of fathers like him by the Prime Minister, he doesn’t believe he has any alternative other than to risk his life for a cause he believes passionately in.” Fathers 4 Justice say O’Connor’s 12 goals are: 

1. A full retraction of the Prime Ministers Fathers Day Statement. 

2. New statement made recognising the most painful cut of all is that of fathers from their children and that tens of thousands of fathers are denied access to their children in this country by our secret family courts despite having legally binding court orders to see them. 

3. To publicly support those fathers struggling to see their children and recognise the catastrophic damage done to society by mass fatherlessness and the fact that 1 in 3 children is now fatherless. 

4. The Prime Minister honours his explicit, written, pre-election commitments to Fathers 4 Justice with regard to family law reform with the utmost urgency. 

5. Give ALL parents AND grandparents a right in law to see their children and grandchildren which the Conservative led coalition currently denies them. 

6. Sets up an immediate independent public enquiry into the Secret Family Courts chaired by Sir Bob Geldof and the scrapping of the existing and discredited Family Justice review panel. 

7. That the enquiry considers ALL areas of family law including the retirement of the current Family Division of the Judiciary and the creation of an open, transparent and accountable system of family justice based on reconciliation not conflict and secrecy. 

8. Sets up a ‘truth and reconcilliation’ commission to investigate serious allegations of child abuse by the system, the failure to keep records on the outcomes for children, the use of violence on children authorised by Judges, Cafcass and NYAS to make them comply with court orders and the cover up of serious allegations of child abuse by professionals working within family law. 

9. Introduce the principle of ‘equal parenting’ and mandatory mediation together so that both parents are treated equally in the eyes of the law and establish contact denial as a criminal offence as serious as non-payment of child support. 

10. Recognition that the demonisation and denigration of fathers in society is profoundly damaging to young boys, causes serious emotional harm to them and is diametrically opposite to his ‘Big Society’ idea. 

11. Recognition that fathers are not simply cashpoints and that child support should mean emotional and financial support, intertwining rights with responsibilities. 

12. Support marriage through the tax system, not by words, but by genuine tax reforms so that the system does not encourage divorce and separation as it currently does and where many couples are £600 a month better off living apart than together and pay a third more tax than other European countries.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In Australia - WHY ARE COWS MORE IMPORTANT THAN CHILDREN?


As in Australia the misplaced chivalry of the Judiciary and the Political class continue to cater to mom without regard to the impact on children at losing their biological father as a parent. In Canada mom gets sole physical custody in over 90% of cases  with dad being sentenced as a 14% visitor if mom doesn't alienate or act as a gatekeeper.MJM


MEDIA RELEASE | June 27th 2011 

WHY ARE COWS MORE IMPORTANT
THAN CHILDREN?


Dads on the Air | www.dadsontheair.net


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On 30th May 2011, the community, media and Government were outraged, when confronted by the cruelty inflicted on Australian cattle in Indonesia, and it brought immediate Government action. Within days a whole industry was closed down and a valuable export trade was stopped in its tracks.

Three days earlier on the 27th May 2011, the Government released the ABS Family Characteristics Survey 2009-10, which indicates that since 1975 almost 24% of Australians have been denied meaningful contact with their biological families, as a result of deep-rooted Family Law policy failure. Yet now one month later, we have still not seen one word in the press and there is not a sign of any community, media or Government outrage.

Instead a deafening silence greets the news of crippling emotional cruelty being inflicted on Australian children and their powerless families. It would appear the health and wellbeing of the nations' cows is much more important than the health and wellbeing of the nation's children and families.  

ABS Family Characteristics 2009-10, compared to 2006-07

                                          Summary of Findings

There were a total 5.0 million children in Australia in 2009-10.
(4.8 million in 2006-07)


1.  NUMBER OF CHILDREN AGED 0 TO 17, WITH PARENTS LIVING ELSEWHERE.
Just over 1 million or 21% = 1,050 000 in (2009-10)
(Just over 1 million or 22% = 1,056 000 in 2006-07)

2.  NUMBER OF CHILDREN WHO SPENT HALF OR MORE NIGHTS WITH THEIR NON-CUSTODIAL PARENT = only 3%.  (4% in 2006-07)

3. There were 441,000 non-custodial parents, the vast majority 81% were Fathers.
(82% in 2006-07)

Using the benchmark definition of “meaningful” contact to represent a child spending 20% or more nights per year with their non-custodial parent, it reveals the following disturbing result:

Of the children who had little or no “meaningful” contact, with their non-custodial parent.
* 45% of children never stayed overnight with their non-custodial parent.
(47% in 2006-07).
This includes 24% who rarely or never saw that parent.
472.500
* 19% of children spent less than 10% of nights with that parent.
(19% in 2006-07).
199.500
* 15% of children spent more than 10% but less than 20% with that parent.
(14% in 2006-07).
= 157.500
* Total number of children who had little or no meaningful contact with
their biological non-custodial parent.  (844.800 in 2006-07).
829.500
This is a slight variation of less than 1.5% over the previous period (2006-07), calling into serious question the effectiveness of Australia’s 36 year old Family Laws and demonstrates the failure of our Family Courts to protect the rights and safety of the nation’s children, and now accumulating into affecting almost 24% of all Australians.

It indicates just 2 out of 10, or 20% of children from separated parents, continue to enjoy ongoing meaningful contact with their non-custodial parent, as per above definition of “meaningful.”

It also means 8 out of 10, or 80% of Australian children from separated parents, are being denied meaningful ongoing contact with their biological non-custodial parent.

As a consequence, there were 352,000 non custodial parents, who had little or no meaningful contact with their biological children living elsewhere. This in turn caused an estimated 1.5 million extended family members to also be denied meaningful contact with their biological families.

All of the above results reveal a crippling, social fallout, from deep-rooted Family Law policy failure, which raises some serious questions. If we consider the above outcome as actually being in ‘The Best Interest of Children’, then perhaps we need to urgently take a very close look at that definition.                    

Media contact: Peter van de Voorde  - Dads on the Air, Australia – June 27, 2011  ©
www.dadsontheair.net  - 04-28648691 – dotafeedback@gmail.com

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Barbara Kay: Stop denying fathers their rights

The CPC at their recent convention finally got around to modifying their policy as follows. The lower of the two clauses below has new wording added: "and/or shared parenting, "

This is a step forward but I get the impression from this and our CEPC President's recent contact with the PMO they don't understand the difference between "shared" and "equal" parenting. Shared could be divided as 90% mom % 10% dad. Joint is a legal fallacy which states mom gets sole physical custody but dad has some legal say. In practice this does not work. Possession is 10/10 of the law.

We will continue our lobbying effort to get a government bill for equal parenting. There are two main opponents. Feminists and Feminist who are lawyers, in addition to the Canadian Bar Association (CBA), who of course have a vested interest in the winner take all status quo as they will lose business. 

Those who think feminists are all about equality haven't read some of their misandric briefs full of mendacity and misleading statistics, some imported from similar feminist briefs in Australia, who do have a watered down shared parenting law. In fact  Tasha Kheiriddin  a colleague of Ms. Kay at the National Post uses some of those same spurious statistics to oppose equal parenting. Google the name of Pamela Cross for the lead Feminist Lawyer who uses ideology not fairness in her role fighting Equal Parenting.

I was a stay-at-home dad for 10 years running, and a damn good one, until my heart was torn out by the gender apartheid used in the social services/justice system that cares not one whit for good fathers having equality in parenting even when they were the parent who raised the children. They also cannot care for the newly fatherless children.

I was watching "The Game of Thrones" on Sunday and one of the players tried to explain the pain they felt. To paraphrase: "It was like someone tore out my heart and then squeezed it before my eyes." It summed up, in a short phrase, what it felt like to lose my children as a legal parent and the squeezing was done over a period of 4 years by the court system and their apparatchiks until a Judge decided I was stronger emotionally than my ex, therefore there was a power imbalance and I was unfit for equal parenting. He did what most chivalrous judges do, and yes it is misplaced chivalry even by conservative judges, in Canada without any reference to what is really best for children. I went from a full time legal dad to a visitor of 3 hours a week and every other weekend, which is the standard sentence for fathers who are guilty of nothing more than being male.

The system will adapt despite the misandry by feminists like Pamela Cross and her legal cohorts and the vested interests of lawyers represented by the CBA.

The Conservative party of Canada  recently modified section 69 of their policy on shared parenting to the wording in the lower version.

RESOLUTION A – 051

EDA – Oshawa; Whitby-Oshawa; Ajax-Pickering; Pickering-Scarborough East; Durham; Northumberland-Quinte West; Haliburton-Kawartha-Brock; Peterborough



Section K – Social Policy (MODIFICATION)

69. Shared Parenting

The Conservative Party believes that in the event of a marital breakdown, the Divorce Act should grant joint custody, unless it is clearly demonstrated not to be in the best interests of the child. Both parents and all grandparents should be allowed to maintain a meaningful relationship with their children and grandchildren, unless it is demonstrated not to be in the best interest of the child.



69. Shared Parenting

The Conservative Party believes that in the event of a marital breakdown, the Divorce Act should grant joint custody and/or shared parenting, unless it is clearly demonstrated not to be in the best interests of the child. Both parents and all grandparents should be allowed to maintain a meaningful relationship with their children and grandchildren, unless it is demonstrated not to be in the best interest of the child.






  Jun 15, 2011 – 7:30 AM ET | Last Updated: Jun 14, 2011 4:36 PM ET
 
Shania Twain recently published a memoir detailing her anguish at her ex-husband’s affair with her best friend. In the end, Shania found happiness with the friend’s betrayed husband, by her account a straight-arrow guy, a terrific father to his own daughter and a much-admired step-father to her sons.
She writes, “What attracted me to Fred was his selflessness. He was going through the same agony as I was — maybe even worse, because as a father, he would have to battle his soon-to-be ex for the right to see his own daughter. At least that was something I never had to face.”

Reflect on Shania’s words a moment, and perhaps you will be struck, as I was, by this statement’s lack of critical introspection or even indignation.


Why is it that Shania accepts with such fatalism that the custody of her daughter will never be at issue, whereas this selfless man will have to “battle” for access to his child? Because that is the way things still are in family courts in the West, and even celebrities with the clout to arouse public outrage have absorbed the received wisdom that if one parent resists shared parenting for any reason whatsoever — it is usually the mother, and the reasons can be trivial or non-existent — the mother is awarded sole custody. (In reality, nobody is awarded anything through such judgments; on the contrary, one parent and his children have been taken away from each other).

In 1995, 49,000 American men were primary caregivers to their children. In 2010 154,000 men were. Pampers is now using fathers in their diaper ads. Almost 10 years ago, in a sample of 32,000 parents, Health Canada found that working fathers and mothers spend virtually equal time on child care.
So gender convergence is the rule for non-divorced parents, and equal parenting is now the rule for divorces that don’t go to trial. Why is it not the presumptive norm for those that do go to trial, after which mothers get sole custody nine out of 10 times?

It is clear to any disinterested observer who immerses himself in the subject that almost the only opponents to equal parenting are misandric ideologues and those financially invested in the family court system itself, which would see a drastic reduction in revenue from the professional gold mine all-or-nothing custody battles represent.

Reliable surveys tell us that over 70% of Canadians want a presumption of shared or equal parenting in law (in the absence of abuse). But family courts have not caught up with reality. Many judges are still in thrall to stubborn myths: that men demand custody rights to punish their ex-wives or to avoid child support; that they easily disengage from their children; or that awarding men equal rights represents a “patriarchal backlash” (even though few men ask for sole custody, only shared) and children do just as well with one parent as two. Wrong on all counts.

Edward Kruk, associate professor of social work at the University of British Columbia, has been studying the changing role of fathers and the problems of father absence for 30 years. His latest book, Divorced Fathers: Children’s Needs and Parental Responsibilities, illuminates the tragic toll on fathers first removed from their children’s lives by a biased legal system, and then unsupported by a social services network that is almost wholly indifferent to fathers’ rights and feelings.

According to multiple studies, displaced fathers are overwrought at the loss of contact with their children. They are far more likely to become depressed or unemployed. Worse, suicide rates amongst fathers struggling to maintain a parenting relationship with their children are “epidemic.” Divorced fathers are more than twice as likely to kill themselves as married fathers. But since men tend to suffer in silence, the depth of their despair goes unnoticed.

Kruk calls the crisis of father absence — for both fathers and the children they are torn from — “one of the most significant and powerful trends of this generation.” Children now form primary attachments to both parents. Losing their father’s active participation in their lives is enormously consequential. Trustworthy research demonstrates that children deprived of a meaningful father role are at far greater risk of physical, emotional and psychological damage than those actively parented by their fathers. Children fare better with equal parenting even where there is conflict between the parents; it is only child-directed conflict that hurts children.

Kruk’s findings reveal that ironically, precisely because they have taken on equal responsibility for parenting before divorce, men who lose their parenting role now suffer far more grievously than they used to 20 years ago when he wrote his first book, Divorce and Disengagement. He argues for a paradigm shift, away from a rights-based discourse to a framework of “responsibility to needs,” in which both children’s needs and parental and institutional responsibilities to them would be enumerated.

Kruk rather poignantly asks: “Why are parents with no civil or criminal wrongdoing forced to surrender their responsibility to raise their children?” and “Is the removal of a parent from the life of a child, via legal sole custody, itself a form of parental alienation?” Good questions, especially since equal parenting has been part of the Conservative policybook since the party’s rebirth. What’s the delay? Over to you, Mr. Harper.

National Post


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

False Allegations in Australian Family Law Disputes

Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence) Bill 2011

Submission to Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs

by Prof. Patrick Parkinson, University of Sydney

Excerpt:

There is now a very widespread view in the community that some family violence orders are sought for tactical or collateral reasons to do with family law disputes. People have become very cynical about them. A national survey conducted in 2009, with over 12,500 respondents, found that 49% of respondents agreed with the proposition that ‘women going through custody battles often make up or exaggerate claims of domestic violence in order to improve their case’, and only 28% disagreed. While it might be expected that men would be inclined to believe this, 42% of women did so as well.

The view that some family violence order applications are unjustified appears to be shared by state magistrates in New South Wales and Queensland. Hickey and Cumines in a survey of 68 NSW magistrates concerning apprehended violence orders (AVOs) found that 90% agreed that some AVOs were sought as a tactic to aid their case in order to deprive a former partner of contact with the children. About a third of those who thought AVOs were used tactically indicated that it did not occur ‘often’, but one in six believed it occurred ‘all the time’. A similar survey of 38 Queensland magistrates found that 74% agreed with the proposition that protection orders are used in Family Court proceedings as a tactic to aid a parent’s case and to deprive their partner of contact with their children.

In research that our research team recently published on the views of 40 family lawyers in NSW, almost all solicitors thought that tactical applications for AVOs occurred, with the majority considering it happened often. In another study based upon interviews with 181 parents who have been involved in family law disputes, we found a strong perception from respondents to family violence orders (both women and men) that their former partners sought a family violence order in order to help win their family law case. This is a quote from one of the women in our study. Her former husband, who we also interviewed, sought an apprehended violence order (AVO) to keep her away from the house after she had left it. She said this:

I thought this is ridiculous. What’s he giving me an AVO for? I haven’t done anything to him. I haven’t hit him, kicked him. We never had any violence in our marriage. Why have I got an AVO? And apparently the AVO was ... you can put an AVO on someone and say that they’re violent, and the only way you can get a child off their mother is because they’re violent. And that’s why I think he gave me the AVO.

The belief that family violence orders are a weapon in the war between parents is fuelled by the fact that judges are required under the Family Law Act to consider such family violence orders in determining the best interests of the child. The proposed clause in this Bill takes the law back to what it was before 2006, without any explanation for why Parliament should reverse its previous decision at least to limit the provision. It really doesn’t matter whether this belief that family violence orders are used tactically is true or not. The fact is that the perception is out there and it is held by state magistrates and family lawyers, as well as the wider community. The retention of this provision in the Family Law Act simply fuels the suspicion that family violence orders are being misused. This is damaging to the credibility of the family violence order system and the courts.

The second reason why the requirement to consider family violence orders ought to be removed is that this serves absolutely no purpose. Yes, the court needs to know about the existence of a current family violence order in order to consider how to frame its own orders (s.60CG), but that is dealt with by requiring people to inform the court of such orders (s.60CF). Why consider them again in deciding what is in the best interests of a child (s.60CC(3))? The court is already required to consider the history of violence. What does it add to require the court also to consider a family violence order? The impression given by the legislation is that these orders are somehow evidence that there has been violence. However, that is a misunderstanding.

Family violence orders have absolutely no evidential value in the vast majority of cases. This is because, in the vast majority of cases, they are consented to without admissions. The hearings in these uncontested cases are very brief indeed. Prof. Rosemary Hunter, in observations in Victoria in 1996–97, found that the median hearing time for each application was only about three minutes. Applications were typically dealt with in a bureaucratic manner, with magistrates being distant and emotionally disengaged. To the extent that applicants were asked to give oral evidence, they were typically asked to confirm the content of their written application, and very little exploration of the grounds for the application took place.

Dr Jane Wangmann, in a recent analysis of court files in NSW, reached finding very similar to Hunter’s. In her observations of AVO matters in 2006–7, she found, like Hunter, that cases were dealt with in three minutes or less. She also noted that the information provided in written complaints was brief and sometimes vague. It is hardly surprising, then, that judges in family law cases draw no inferences from the mere existence of a family violence order. This has been the clear view of family lawyers for the last 15 years. Indeed, in the research we recently published on the views of 40 family lawyers in NSW, none of the lawyers who responded to the question believed that judicial officers gave AVOs much consideration in determining parenting disputes. Judges, they indicate, want to evaluate the evidence of violence itself, not the fact that another court has made an order about it by consent and without admissions.

Download the full submission in PDF format by Prof. Parkinson:

https://senate.aph.gov.au/submissions/comittees/viewdocument.aspx?id=f6c1e09d-3367-4ed1-b0da-aed26481ea59

The work of Fathers 4 Justice and the Pain of Fathers ~ Activism in the UK

Equal and Shared Parenting ~ The Movie