Act now 30th September 2010 is the deadline!
Ministry of Justice building in Petty France, near St. James' Park Station.
This is their Call for Evidence;
and to help here are my answers but act now!
To find reconciliation in family disputes that are workable and fair to all, whilst serving the children's best interest in offering stability and a continuity of lifestyle with the benefit of both parents, where there have been no previous accounts of violence or abuse, and the parental responsibilities are shared equally! Childhood is such a short span of time, ti should be protected!
What should not be included in the family Court is the systematic incompetence of contributors most especially the CAFCASS and CSF court reporters (CAFCASS in my view and experience should be disbanded!)
2) This question is a bit of a non starter as it should be remembered most separations happen amicably and away from court , those that do are from couple unable to agree following mediation or the like so immediately there is a dispute!
All to often a case that may be a dispute over money or property cane become embroiled in child welfare not least when a mother (more often) withhold the children till things go her way the current law does not enforce court orders so allows the parental alienation to take place!
The state should offer £500 of legal aid to both parties to include a single court appearance/order thereafter the parent who wishes to return the matter to court has to pay from their own funds, thus their minds should be focused on getting it right first time and allowing some flex ability of contact as the children grow.
3) The system is a farce bordering on discrimination and neglect!
a) No in fact the whole experience is one of rush brief and to the point bullet statements that all to often miss crucial details and Judges always seem to be in a rush to get to the next case as opposed to considering the case in hand. At one time CAFCASS had 6 months+ waiting times to process their reports and with so much water under the bridge by the time they did reach court much of the fact were out of date and not always relevant to the child's need after all that time.
b) To encourage couples to entre mediation and be given a foresight as to what they could achieve with £500 and one court agreement (as I propose) and an education on parental responsibilities that should be actively shared . CAFCASS to disband, CSF only to be brought in if there is an underlining child welfare issue and not a matter of course and the judges to receive an unbiased report from the family doctor and schools at the outset of the case so preventing one parent (more often the mother) making false representations to satisfy her own ends with the emphasis on trying to defuse tensions, but whilst there are so many people standing to gain financially cases that could be solved quickly are exacerbated more!
c) The system is mostly inefficient and grossly incompetent!
d) If the system was open to public or press scrutiny as criminal cases are it would be revealed as discriminating against fathers for no apparent reason other then accepted prejudices in society, and bigoted towards bad parents who seem to know how to work the system to their own ends whilst good non confrontational parents are penalised . There has to be a gender equality brought into the 'Walter Mitty' Family Court world as equality is accepted in the real world!
The phrase " In the best interest of the children!" should be banned from Family Court use until they themselves try to understanding of the ramifications of their all too often misjudgements!
4) I have to say there really is little more a Family Court Judge does then administer a court order that frankly is not worth the paper it is written on, even if as in my case it has just taken almost one year to attain and some £35,000 in cost (money I would have preferred to have put towards my children's future. If the judges cannot enforce his own orders supported by often spurious testimony from CAFCASS & CSF reporters what ever is the point ? Here is my solution;
http://daveyonefamilylawman.blogspot.com/2009/11/degree-absolute.html the key to all this is take the financial incentives ou t of the process and then just maybe justice may be served till then the corruption of the system will ensue!
a) Arbitration & Mediation.
b) No single agency such as CAFCASS or a social services to have the final say, some means of overseeing their activities with an impartial witness or 3 !! The right to appeal and for those making these statements to be held to account!
5) My advise to any newly separated couple would be boycott the system as if you cannot resolve it yourselves no way a Solicitor, Barrister or ultimately a Family Court Judges will do it and once again as the financial rewards are so great and with very little redress to the LSC you would be simply wasting your money!
a) No the whole system is a minefield of corruption and deceit and even when you think you are making head way smoke and mirrors are used to deceive you further I would no venture there even with an expensive lawyer at £200 per hour or a £2000 court appearance hardly in the "Child's best interest" to bankrupt the parent is it?
b) There really is no Constancy in this process and can vary just by a change of judge!
c) You can use a McKenzie friend or advocate but the judge will not always recognise then and they can only advise a litigant in person who then has to interpret that advice to an impatient judge so no not to be recommended even though Lord Justice Woolf devotes his own charity to promoting them, this to is only designed to enhance the funds flowing through the system ad hock!
6) Both parents to be regarded in law equally as in every other equality law in the land and beyond!
Outlaw Parental Alienation so as to stop the resident parent withholding the children during prearranged contact time, this should be regarded as child abuse as it undermines the very stability and routine young children in particular need and understand!
In stead of making fathers into criminals by threats from the police of arrest for harassment ( even though you as a father are attending contact at the time and place prescribed in court ( The law they use was designed for celebrities being stalked and has no place in family law or domestic issues such as these) Make false allegation a criminal offence so when proved, more often, that the mother is making it up they should face a penal notice!
7) They at present are ineffectual especially for the most heated of situations, and simply take the financial incentives out of the system for solicitors and mother who most often are entitled to limitless legal aid and put the emphasis that the money aspect of all matters appertain to the children's welfare and upbringing and nothing else!
8) The easiest way I can answer this question is from first hand experience ;
On one occasion my ex partner told the court I was stopping the children phoning their mother when they were having contact with me ( in spite of me issuing both my children with mobiles and ready access to the land line) I was told by the judge he would issue a penal notice. There after I ensured my children phoned their mother when they stayed with me, when we returned to court 3 month later the mothers barrister told my McKenzie friend to ask me to stop making the children phone so often, it was getting on her nerves!
In October 2004 I was granted a joint residency order and more then sufficient contact time ( overnight Wednesdays alternate weekends and all the school holidays shared 50/50 this is what the children had asked for and I was more then happy to adhere to. From that date onwards the mother sought to disrupt contact at every opportunity often with holding my younger child when I challenged this I was threatened with the police. This culminated on 19th September 2007 when both children were withheld and this has been the case to present day, just 3 years no contact not even a phone call text nothing and again on rare occasions of trying to pass birthday or Christmas cards etc to them and including one time when I handed my eldest an A4 envelope with a charger for a toy left at my home in error and a Post office book and maturing bonds which meant each child received about £1000 although this took place en route home from school at 3pm I had the police turn up to my home 2 days later wishing to arrest me for harassing my son at the school gate, go figure as my American friends would say , but since then I email my local police station, M.P. and newspaper of my intent and the police now do not come!
Court orders only seem enforceable on the father and the mother can get away with almost murder yet there is no course of redress! Judges just seem to go for a quiet life and if there is potentially conflict it is invariably the father that is made to leave!
9) The hypocrisy that ensues from the Family Court process starts with the bland meaning less statement in the "child's best interest" yet the children are never heard. Instead the erroneous CAFCASS and Social Services rely on the mother's word as being Gospel and not truly what the children want. Perhaps schools should appoint an independent advocate pastoral or religious who works like and with the family doctor to offer children private advice and that can be reported solely to a Family Court Judges and once again the reliance of more then one witness to a child's statement and a private room within the school where matters can be dealt with in an non intimidating way.
10) I refer you to my answer to question 4 but would say take the financial incentives out of the system to give justice a fighting chance of success.
11) The whole system is a sham I cannot think of one good aspect of family law after 6 years of study it is in need of radical reform top to bottom and social services should be included in the process the same failures affecting child welfare ( most notably Baby Peter and Khyra Ishaq) are spilling over into family court judgements more often to the detriment of the child I once again am of the view that CAFCASS should be disbanded and social services has no place in preliminary hearings of family court cases all they are doing there is generating future work for themselves and their colleagues!
12 ) If the suggestions made in question 4 where adopted the administration would be greatly reduced one bundle for a single hearing at a set price , problem solved!
13) As with answer 13 and the onus should be place with the parents ( both) to make their agreement work!
14) Sack those for misjudgements and prosecute Social services managers when they are culpable in negligence everyone else in society is accountable for their actions why are those protected by these secret family court immune? Open the process to Press and public scrutiny and say child A child B family XYZ as they do in sensitive criminal cases!
15) They do not there is just one tunnel vision route all cases take with the same inevitable out come. They fail as they are not taken on a case by case basis and much of the testimony brought to the court is hear say and the expected prejudicial outcomes of before!
16) They are not necessary separating couples should be given a pack £500 of legal advice and a single court appearance which is then enforceable on both parents and encouraged to make it work Social Services should only be called in extreme circumstances where proven incidents of violence or abuse have been recorded otherwise they only contribute to the disputes , often when previously they did not exist!
17/18 Once again the answer lies in question 4 but CAFCASS could & should disband immediately, Social services should be reformed and made to concentrate solely on child welfare issues. CSA or Child maintenance enforcement agency should also disband as they serve nobody good parents will pay for the welfare of their children bad parents will not but this poor organisation rewards the bad parent whilst penalising those who are made to pay again and a gain and also contribute to much of the disruption in applied court orders and contact arrangement. Solicitors to be made clear there is a ceiling to what legal aid any one case can justify and as previously suggested £500 there after the client has to pay themselves ( This was also discovered by an associate of mine in Canada who suggested $500 divorces were possible).
19) This is a mini statement blog;
Well having worked for 35+ years, I did all the courts asked and more acquired a second family home equal distance to the schools as my former one and carried on working , adhering fully to the court order , and trying to fix 2 broken relationships with one good one having an enhanced relationship with step children unhindered by court orders. this culminated in bankruptcy and depression too great demands on a single person for finances a single wage would never achieve. Then to be entitle to minimum and ever reducing aid from the state still paying CSA having my former home handed to my ex partner and her new partner on a plate her new partner not having spent 30 seconds in Family court was able to acquire my home for a pepper corn rate of £34,000 when it was worth over £200,00 in the same week I was issued with an intent to reposes my second family home, my pension maturing early saved it but now means it is only paying a minimum out ( £20 per week) for the rest of my life! I am not entitle to legal aid in spite of being broke and there seems no course of redress at the age of 52 what hope but there are those worse off then me see question 30
21) There is no accountability and there is no excuse why the courts cannot be more open as they are in Australia and cases can be identified by numbers or letters in the most sensitive cases there is no accountability at Social services and no way of undoing their wrongs or reversing bad decisions once in place a national scandal!
22) There needs to be more openness including press intervention whilst sensitive cases can still be protected if everyone involved was aware then it follows so would accountability!
23) Criminal courts use ID such as Child A and this can still be used at the Judges discretion but there has to be some form of overseer to ensure there is some accountability for any judgement, this would also save wasted appeals.
24) I have thought about this on a number of occasions and have come to the conclusion that the key stage for this is at the stage a child reached the age they start at secondary education so I would suggest a child under 11 should be allowed to talk to court via video link but children over 11 should be able to attend court perhaps with a child advocate.
25) CAFCASS should be disbanded as ineffectual failures!
26) All the above and took my research worldwide for over 6 years!
27) Openness, accountability and performance rating!
28) Judge could be supported by a jury of independent parents and in fact a reduction in the number of agencies involved but above all ACCOUNTABILITY!
29) One of the first thing I did when I saw the failings first hand in UK courts was to go in search of where things might be done better, Sadly the whole malaise was derived from the British model and as a result the same problems occur around the world ! In the USA things seem to be on a par with the UK with State and county variations and their CPS is as much a national disgrace as here in Britain they seem to be tougher in Canada whilst the courts in Australia are a little more open they are still far from ideal and along with their New Zealand neighbours suffer from failing child welfare services with their CYFS.
30) Along with Parental Alienation, False allegations and children going into care or foster home on spurious Social services claims such as the dog barked so the child needs to go into care! But one other hidden secret the public never see as a result of these sinister courts is the resulting suicides of those falling fowl of this appalling system! In Australia where a thorough record is kept over 12,000 people have taken their lives since November 2007 ( when Kevin Rudd took office) it is believed similar numbers are lost in the UK ( where the BBC mocked a protester on the Tyne Bridge for trying to highlight this fact) and Canada . In the USA where numbers run into the 100,000 SCC.org has revealed the correlation between returning service personnel and their added involvement in the family law system adding significantly to this tragic number!
Follow the progress of this review by clicking on the blog title above!