NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

April 6, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

The incipient revolt of fathers against the barbarity of British family law may be taking shape. As we know, the British system of handing children to mothers makes the American one look like a child’s birthday party. Here, fathers get primary custody of their kids about 17% of the time; in the U.K. it’s under 10%. That was all supposed to change this year because three years ago the Conservative/Liberal Democratic coalition government uttered some convincing bleats about the value of fathers to children and their intention to reform family law. Not long after, we had teenagers rioting in the streets of London, burning cars and looting stores. To its credit, at least some of the British press drew the connection between fatherlessness and the sense of anger and alienation the rioters displayed.

But of course, that was then and this is now. I’ve tracked the course of the “reforms” likely to make it into law and, to say the least, we’re vastly underwhelmed. If the new law makes the slightest difference in the rate of fathers removed from their children’s lives by family courts, I’ll eat my hat. The government promised much and delivered the least possible change, and that solely in order to say “we kept our promise,” however threadbare and unbelievable such a claim would be.

Few of us seriously believed the government would make real change, but I for one was hopeful that something meaningful would happen. My guess now is that the two-headed Cameron/Clegg never had any intention of enacting real reform, but there’s a problem with the way they went about shafting fathers throughout the realm. It’s one thing to do nothing; it’s another altogether to promise much, allow people’s hopes to rise, and then do nothing, dashing those hopes.

And that’s exactly what Cameron/Clegg have done. The proposed legislation is, as I’ve detailed before, a sham. It requires nothing of judges in the way of giving custody or even access to fathers. The result will be that mothers will continue to get 90% of primary custody and fathers will continue to be shut out of their children’s lives at the whim of either Mom, the judge or both. The proposed statute demands nothing of judges and that’s just what dads will get.

Comes now this letter by activist Jolly Stanesby (Cornwall Community News, 4/2/14). It’s written to Judge Nicholas Wall, the chief judge of the family bench in the U.K. Here’s how Wall is described in the lead-in to Stanesby’s letter:

Nicholas Wall is one of the most notoriously bigoted and cruel tyrants operating the completely unaccountable, anti-democratic, secret ‘family law’ system that is pushing Britain to the brink of violent revolt.

Sounds like just the sort of guy we’d all want adjudicating the “best interests of children.”

Stanesby’s more circumspect in his letter to Wall, but we get the message. He’s responding to a speech Wall recently delivered.

One thing that you repeatedly said is that it is the written into the Children’s Act that judges should base their decisions, primarily, on “the best interest of the children”. Forgive me for saying that your repeating of this seems to imply that you do not believe that the fathers in the room have the best interest of their children at heart. I find a particular arrogance of judges who think that they know better than parents do, what is best for children. May I point out that it is normally the case that judges do not even know the names of the children involved, they do not have to live for the rest of their lives with the consequences and they hold no responsibility for the outcome of their decisions. This is power without responsibility, which is absolute power.

Hmm. “Power without responsibility, which is absolute power.” Those aren’t the words of someone who intends to take matters lying down for long. Those are revolutionary words. I’d hate to say it to a Limey, but Stanesby’s starting to sound like citizen Thomas Paine.

But while we’re on the subject of the best interests of children, I wish someone would ask one of these judges what social science he/she’s read on the subject. Have they read Kruk? Millar? Nielsen? Warshak? For that matter, have they read Popenoe, Brott, Garfinkel, McLanahan, or any of the countless others? Have they read the 1998 Canadian government report that clearly demanded equal parenting as the best family structure for children post-divorce? Indeed, have they read anything at all on the detriments of fatherlessness? Have they read anything at all to suggest that children living with a single parent do better than those with both parents actively involved in their lives.

The answer of course is that these autocrats daily intone the mantra of the “best interests of children,” without knowing the first thing about what helps that and what hurts. I know this because (a) a number of studies in this country and Canada show it to be true, (b) a fathers’ rights organization in the U.K. asked the question of the British Judicial College and received the indignant answer that not only did the College have no such social science, it wouldn’t use it to train judges if it did and (c) if the judges had read any of that work, they wouldn’t behave the way they do.

These people give speeches all the time. Someone needs to ask them the question in public.

But Stanesby continues with some good questions of his own.

Firstly, you emphasise Domestic Violence (DV), although you do not go as far as saying the fathers should be barred from their children because of it. I would like to point out that throughout well over 100 reputable surveys carried out throughout the English speaking countries runs the theme that women commit just as much DV as men. There are no reputable surveys that say anything different. It has also been shown by the NSPCC that mothers commit 60% of child abuse and real fathers 9% with 31% being carried out by step-fathers live-in boyfriends and the like. Surely as far as DV is concerned it is “in the best interest of the children” to give full custody to the father and not put them with the mother where 91% of child abuse takes place. Why don’t they?

Secondly, by placing girls with their mothers you expose them to eight time the risk of sexual abuse from step-fathers, live in boyfriends and the like. Why do judges do this if they are committed to “in the best interest of the children”?

Thirdly, the main responsibilities a parent has for their children are to feed, clothe, and shelter them, for example it does not matter how much education they get if they starve and it does not matter how much “mothering” they get if they freeze to death.

Good point and one I’ve made myself many a time. Fathers tend to be the breadwinners in families. They usually work and earn more than mothers do. That means it’s the sweat of their brows that puts food on the table, a roof over the children’s heads, clothes on their back, sends them to school, etc. These are all necessities of life without which all the readings of Good Night Moon in the world would amount to nothing. And for doing this hard work to provide the things without which children literally couldn’t survive, fathers are called uncaring about their children and kicked out of their lives, again by judges without the first idea about what truly serves children’s interests.

Fourthly, the Children’s Act is gender free, why do judges almost exclusively give the children to the mother? Only 8% go to the father and this includes cases where the mother has deserted the family and the millionaires, who can spend a million pounds on lawyers to get custody. When I said to my solicitor, who was a “trainee” judge, that I wanted custody he said “you don’t stand a chance unless you can prove beyond any doubt that she is rolling around the floor drunk EVERY night or is on HARD drugs” (the EVERY and HARD were his emphasis). This implies that judges consider that any abuse less that this is an acceptable price for children to pay to live with their mother. How is this “in the best interest of the children”?

Answer: It’s not. It’s anti-father/pro-mother bias, plain and simple. As such, the Cameron/Clegg “reform” won’t but the slightest dent in it.

As to mediation, Stanesby again nails it.

Sitting two people down and saying now be reasonable and then saying to one “but if you’re not we will give you whatever you demand” is hardly likely to achieve anything worthwhile. If however you start from the 50/50 point you may get some positive result. Quite simply why should mother bother with mediation when the anti-family courts give them everything anyway? How do you consider that this is “in the best interest of the children”?

Again, I’ve said the same thing many times before. Mediation works only when the outcome of a case is in doubt. When each litigant looks at the possible outcomes and sees that, on one hand Santa may bring you a puppy dog but on the other he may bring ashes and switches, both are encouraged to make a deal in which neither gets everything and neither loses everything.

But of course mediation of a child custody case is nothing like that. As Stanesby says, when Mom knows as sure as the sunrise that she’s going to get sole custody and child support, why would she agree to less? Under those conditions mediation is just going through the motions, and paying the mediator into the bargain.

The abuse of children and fathers by family courts for the purpose of protecting the family law bar and promoting a radically misandric and false view of men and fathers must stop. Insincere claims by politicians running for office that are abandoned the minute the last vote is counted may have worked in the past, but that time is coming to an end. Two and a half years ago, British youth rioted in the streets. Soon enough it may be their fathers’ turn.

National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization

National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.


#NicholasWall, #Cameron/Clegg, #sharedparenting, #child'sbestinterests, #familycourt, #familylawreform

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