Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Are family courts fair to fathers in assigning child custody?

From the radically leftist UK Guardian.

Excerpt:

In the past, public sympathy may well have rested with the court, assuming it was doing its best for the children. But now there is growing evidence that family law has spectacularly failed to keep up with the changing role of men within the home and that children are suffering as a result. Judges are accused of stereotyping, making a legal presumption in favour of the mother and awarding meagre access rights to dads.

With the maturing of the “men’s movement” into more child-centred lobbying and support groups, and with rising numbers of divorce lawyers moving into mediation work and away from adversarial courtrooms, there is a growing understanding of the raw deal many fathers – and children – have been getting from the secretive British family court system.

[...]The government estimates that one in four children has separated or divorced parents. Despite all the evidence that children thrive best when they enjoy the support and love of two parents, only about 11% of children from broken homes will go on to spend equal amounts of time with each parent.

A significant number of fathers, some estimate as many as 40%, will within two years of the split lose all contact with their children. Previously this had been seen as a sign of male fecklessness, but now it is also being recognised that dads are being pushed away, not only by the residual conflict with ex-partners, but also by a legal system that works against them maintaining relationships with their children.

[...]Ian Julian, 49, is one of the tiny percentage of fathers in the UK to have won a shared residency court order for his son, now aged 16. But that was pared away into alternate weekends when his ex-wife sent their son to boarding school against Julian’s wishes. He has had to move four times to follow the house moves of his former wife.

“When I first went to a lawyer, she told me I had no chance of anything, but I was prepared to go to 100 lawyers to find one who would take my case,” he said.

[...]“I’ve heard a judge call a man ‘possessive’ for wanting more than two hours a week, and others make ‘no contact’ orders on hearsay evidence,” he said. “I’ve known mothers taken back to court for ignoring contact orders, but nothing is done. Bad behaviour isn’t just tolerated, it’s encouraged. Some of the judges I have sat in front of have traditional values along the lines of a woman’s place being in the home. But it’s not the experience of the average British family and a father seeing a child once every two weeks isn’t a meaningful relationship.”

This is actually pretty standard in Western nations, and it’s one of the reasons why there is an epidemic of suicide among middle-aged men.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response

  1. Jerry says:

    I know in the USA they are not. I had a son out of wedlock during college and when it made it to family court (where these matters are settled in NYS), I got the short-end of the stick! Since he was still a baby, I was only allowed 4 hours every other sunday (with a non-written promise it would increase as he got older) – it was assumed that a baby shouldn’t be without his mom. When I presented a study I found (actually several) that demonstrated that children do better when with a father vs. a mother, e.g., more likely to graduate school and college, less likely to get arrested, less likely to get pregnant (teenage), etc, etc, the judge got mad, as if some researchers would know more than he did. Anyways, as time went on and she wouldn’t (always) let me see him at the ordered times, I would take her back to court and she would have to go to “parenting classes”.

    Ironically enough, there was a period when DCS credited my child support check to the wrong accout, so it appeared that I didn’t pay my child support, they were ready to send me to jail because I refused to pay again because I had proof I already paid. I had to go back to court. My cashed check wasn’t proof enough – the computers said I didn’t pay, so I didn’t pay. If I wasn’t willing to write another check, I was going to be charged with contempt of court/failure to follow a court order and a punishment would follow. So I had to write another check to avoid going to jail for a week or so and loose my job. It took them 6 months to figure out what happened. They didn’t credit the money back to me right away – it had to go into my account for a minimum of 3 months before it would be eligible for refund.

    There’s been times that she has failed drug tests, but that wasn’t a problem, there’s parenting classes- they don’t want to send the custodial parent to jail, “it wouldn’t benefit anyone,” except me I chime in – the judge didn’t like that. Sending her to jail and giving me custody over a minor thing like drugs would just disrupt my son’s life and somehow prove I did’t have his best interests in mind – I should be supporting her, not trying to get her locked up. Somehow my argument that her drug use wasn’t in my son’s best interest didn’t hold the weight that her lawyer’s argument did (I had to pay for her lawyer since I made more than she did)

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