Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Talk:Fathers' rights movement in the UK
Material in this page was originally moved from the fathers' rights page in order to focus on activism in the UK. The controversy primarily relates to whether there can genuinely be seen to be good faith on the part of the major players who are:
- judges and others in the legal profession, whose livelihoods depend on there being litigation in the courts
- politicians, whose livelihoods depend on them getting votes at elections and on being popular with their party political masters
- parents (fathers primarily), whose relationship with their children is being disrupted by their ex-partner in so-called child custody disputes.
The material in the article that I have contributed comes from Internet news sources and my personal contact with various lobbyists, fathers, mothers, politicians and judges. Matt Stan 11:33, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)
In support of the view that the UK courts are not biased
This is a view often expressed by family court judges, and it is worth investigating its implications in order to keep this article NPOV. In a case known as V v. V, Judge Bracewell summed up the situation fairly succinctly in her judgment, from which I quote here, and which might usefully be included in the article:
- At present, enforcement of contact orders creates insuperable problems for the courts. Currently, there are only four options available to the court and each is unsatisfactory: one, send the parent who refuses or frustrates contact to prison, or make a suspended order of imprisonment. This option may well not achieve the object of reinstating contact. The child may blame the parent who applied to commit the carer to prison. The child's life may be disrupted if there is no one capable of or willing to care for the child when the parent is in prison. It cannot be anything other than emotionally damaging for a child to be suddenly removed into foster care by social services from a parent, usually a mother, who in all respects except contact is a good parent. Two, impose a fine on the parent. This option is rarely possible because it is not consistent with welfare of a child to deprive a parent on a limited budget. Three, transfer residence. This option is not necessarily available to the court, because the other parent may not have the facilities or capacity to care for the child full-time, and may not even know the child. The current case is one in which this is a real option. Four, give up. Make either an order for indirect contact or no order at all. This is the worst option of all and sometimes the only one available. This is the option which gives rise to the public blaming the judges for refusing to deal with recalcitrant parents. This option results in a perception fostered by the press that family courts are failing in private law cases and that family judges are anti-father. The truth, however, is that without the weapons to use against what is in essence a small group of obdurate mothers, the ability of judges to do better for fathers is strictly limited. It is not commonly recognised by the public that, in order to have enforcement procedures which are effective, legislation by Parliament is necessary.
In the same judgment, Bracewell also put: "This is neither a unique nor even unusual case to come before the courts."
Thus one could conclude that the whole fathers' rights movement's underlying cause is "a small group of obdurate mothers" and a law that doesn't deal with them properly. It is a strange irony that the people whom many activists blame - the judges - are themselves shifting the blame on to mothers, something which fathers' rights campaigners themselves have been loathe to do, for fear that it will just be seen as sour grapes. Matt Stan 12:12, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)
The case of V v. V is fascinating and depressing reading, and was made public by the judge to expose some of the abuses that go on behind the normally closed doors of the family justice system - in this case four years of a mother telling lies and making false accusations about a good father's treatment of their two small girls. The judgment, made on 20th May 2004 in the High Court actually was:
- Having considered all the factors, weighing all the risks and advantages, I am satisfied that the need for these children to have a relationship with their father can only be met by transferring residence to him. I am confident in his abilities. I, therefore, order a residence order to father.
i.e. the judge switched the residency from the mother to the father. Matt Stan 12:29, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Somebody asked me whereabouts on the web one can get the entire transcript of this judgment, which I think is only normally available on subscription law web sites, i.e. not in the public domain. I found the material copied above (together with much other salient material to do with this area of family law) in the members-only area of the FNF web site.  Matt Stan 12:37, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)
To continue this essay, the next question might be, if the noble judge who made the statement above is right, and it is agreed that the problem rests with these obdurate mothers, why do they have the power that they do? I don't know that this question has been answered (and therefore if this essay is going to make a worthwhile contribution to a wikipedia article, some corroboration of the following will be required). One approach would be to look at the issue from the mother's rights perspective, or women's rights, which is a more current term. Over the last half of the 20th Century a major break-through for women's rights was the establishment in law that women could legally have an abortion. However the right of a father to determine the outcome for children in cases of partnership breakdown was removed by legislation much earlier (need to check date). Having the right to do what they wanted with their own bodies in respect of unborn children wasn't the whole story, however; women's rights campaigners also wanted to free, women to take other of other aspects of their lives. Thus it has come to be seen that because most mothers are directly involved in childcare then they have the majority stake when it comes to determining what family life should mean for those children. There was a tacit acceptance of this development. It suited some men after all: they could get off the hook; they could remain lads (rather than dads) without having the obligation to bring up their own children. The removal of this obligaion seems to have gone hand-in-hand with an erosion of the children's right to have a father even when there is one willing able to participate. One only has to look at the views expressed about men by the voices raised against the fathers (either he isn't spending enough time with the children, or he must be prevented from spending more time with the children) to confirm the notion that it is mothers who in the driving seat when it comes to the children's relationship with their dad. If there was equality, we wouldn't be hearing these sort of arguments. A fundamental piece of legislation, which would clarify and hence, it can be argued, resolve the problem should specify what the rights of the child to family life means. It could say, for instance, that when it came to determining the child's lifestyle, the best use should be made of both parents' resources, both material and emotional. And it should end the perception that the child's rights are subsumed under the mother's. Then, if a mother obstructed a child's right to be with its dad, became one of the 'obdurate mums' she need not be party to any proceedings that the dad might take to establish that child's right. Conversely if there were issues to do with either parent's care of the children these should be handled as would concerns about any child, rather than used to fuel family court residency disputes. The holy grail of the fathers' rights movement therefore would seem to be to get this fundamental piece of legislation passed - to ensure that children's right to family life in the widest sense cannot be subverted by one of its parents. On the political front there is caution because it would affect both the obdurate and the non-obdurate mothers, and that would be seen as a set-back for the rights of women to make decisions. On the other hand, if this step isn't taken, the notion of fatherhood, which is taken seriously in intact families, will effectively become obsolete for the children of dysfunctional single parent households, leading to persistent polarisiation between the children of these families and the rest. Some argue, however that consistent judicial support for the idea of some form of shared parenting in all cases where both parents have a part to play may lead to a sufficient improvement toi outcomes without the need for new legislation. Matt Stan 17:31, 5 Dec 2004 (UTC)
David Blunkett Story
This story almost exactly models a case that FNF has held up as a conundrum for some time, that is, should the natural father-child relationship be preserved in a case where the child was the result of the mother's infidelity to the step-father? I posed this question to my teenage children in the company of several of their friends some while ago. They uniformly took the line that the children should not be deprived of their natural father just because of the mother's previous indiscretions. They effectively took the moralistic line that the mother should live with the consequences of her actions, and that preservation of the natural father-child relationship outweighed all other considerations when it came to that child's welfare.Matt Stan 10:34, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Though I have not seen this discussed elsewhere, the underlying issue of jurisprudence here and in most cases of hostile mother syndrome seems to me to be one of undefined rights. Simply put, should the mother have the unassailable right to determine who the social father of her offspring is going to be, or does the natural father and/or other person acting as father over a period have rights in this respect? The general observation seems to be that some mothers evidently do appear to claim such a right, and it is only assailable in a court of law, and then only after having overcome considerable hurdles put in place by her and by the system. It would arguably be better to clarify in legislation that there is no such right for a mother to choose who is going to act as the child's social father when the natural father wishes to be involved as a parent. The step-father's rights in this regard would necessarily be subordinate to the natural father's rights, though in the case of a dispute between the father and the step-father the circumstances could mitigate towards the involvement of both the natural and the step-father in appropriate ways. Matt Stan 22:56, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Absurd, and makes a mockery of one of the major purposes of the institution of marriage. If the woman is married at the time, the assumption is that her children are a product of that union unless her husband denies it, and he is the 'father' not the 'step-father'. That's the 'consequence' which is upheld in a court of law, regardless of what some teenagers may think about crime and punishment. 22 Dec 2004
As used in the 1st para is probably not NPOV, but it nevertheless reflects the views of activists that it is discriminatory per se for them not to be able freely to consort with their grandchildren, subject to the sensitivities required in light of a failed romance. Others hold that the law, as constituted, is not discriminatory. Cynics might claim that just because a piece of legislation is careful not to use sexist language in its draughtsmanship doesn't mean that it cannot be used in way that discriminates. Matt Stan 17:44, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)
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