Thursday, 3 November 2011

Family Justice Review : My Version!

Dedicated to Eddie and Matthew.
This Autumn The Ministry of Justice in London will publish its findings of the Family Justice Review to which I participated as part of the Partners Group who has contributed to this enquiry for the past 18 months. I have already detected a number of shortfalls, therefore I have set out my Version of how it should read from my first hand experience at entering Family Court in March 2004. My contact with Family Court Judges, Solicitors, Barristers, CAFCASS, Social Services and Police ultimately to the CSA and above all the impact this has on my Children for when this should have been ‘in their best interest’. Instead what I witnessed between March and October 2004 ranged from inconsistency to outright corruption. Therefore I embarked on what has become almost 8 years of research worldwide within input right across the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Greece and a number of European Countries. I have converted my findings into a frank and honest Blog and I regard this Blog as the defining culmination by this reluctant campaign.
I hope that any shortfall in the Ministry of Justice version on the Family Justice Review can be made up from my contribution here and both could lead to this God awful law being reformed!
C.S.A./CAFCASS: For me The Coalition Government could make immediate savings by disbanding both of these ineffectual organisations, neither have a place in Family Justice as I will show in the following paragraphs:-

SOCIAL SERVICES: I believe Social Services has no place in Family Court (they are ill-equipped) and rather like CAFCASS will offer the Family Judge a snapshot and spurious testimony to which a Judge feels duty bound to apply, making CAFCASS and Social Services his scapegoat for the future, to offer irreversible orders to whom nobody beyond that Judge can scrutinise.

Social Services should only be called upon in the case where there is a ‘History’ of Violence or Abuse prior to a couple coming to Court NOT as a weapon of false allegations once they have arrived at Court. Social Services should be left to concentrate on Child Welfare so Horror Stories, such as Baby P, Victoria Climbie and Khyra Ishaq are reduced.

FAMILY COURT JUDGE: Of the 6 or so Judges I came before most were reasoned balanced people who even if I regard their view as against me I saw the reasoning behind it. I did however come before one patronising and biased Judge who seemed to perpetuate premise of Single Parenting and by strange coincidence at this time I read an article that said Ambitious Judges who go against the Father have greater chance of promotion and so was the case here. This D.J. reserved my case for her sole consideration but was made up to H.H.J. during the process so failed to appear at the final hearing, instead a fellow D.J. whom I regarded as her ‘Lacky’ sat in and just went along with the biased Judges’ rhetoric.

Closed Court precludes any balance analysis of proceedings and when Jack Straw as our one time Justice Minister attempted to ‘Open’ the Court, he was met by derision by the very Judges who should have been called to account. Camilla Cavendish, who won an award for her Family Law column in The Times, was one of the first Journalists to be invited into Family Court in Ipswich and it was clear to me that at that time the same safeguards put in place for sensitive criminal cases could apply to Civil Laws, i.e. Child A, Family XYZ or even a serial number Journalists could refer to a case when given out to news of Parliament.

Judges either willingly or otherwise collude with Barristers and Solicitors in perpetuating this corruption where financial gain can be achieved by their Court, rarely do they benefit either party, least of all the children involved and due to the closed nature of these Courts there is no accountability (if you appeal is it likely one Judge will contradict another).
Money is the fuel to injustice and closed courts hide this fact from public scrutiny!
BARRISTERS AND SOLICITORS: The moment a couple steps into the Family Solicitors office they are perpetual conflict and whilst some Solicitors claim to offer Arbitration services (mine and my ex-partners did not), this goes against the grain of what they want to do, which insures they plunder the Legal Aid system for Mum whilst rendering Dad bankrupt with no regard to the Child’s welfare as they are supposed to subscribe to in Court. The Barristers take a similar line, I spent an entire duration debating the safety of allowing my Children to ride on their Go-Karts near the Road and the last 2 minutes for me to be told to leave the Family Home! All Smoke and Mirrors I’m afraid which because claimants should they want to perpetuate false allegations, which on one occasion for me was that I was an alcoholic (in fact I drink less alcohol in a year than some do in one weekend) spurious as in fact at the time I was employed to drive 40 tonne trucks for Salisbury’s, Tesco and M & S, I doubt if these would have allowed such a person to take charge of a £100,000 vehicle and Loads of a similar value.
The Law Society, or whatever they call themselves these days, cannot make a complaint against a firm of Solicitors for fear of being sued, they do not have the teeth to regulate as they should!
GRANDPARENTS: At the beginning of June this year I read a copy of The Mature Times and was dismayed to learn that the Family Justice Review did not see the merit in giving Grandparents rights of contact with their Grandchildren. I am of the view that when Parents maybe in dispute and possibly separating, who better to offer stability and continuity to children than Grandparents or other Family Members where appropriate.( Thanks Sir Bob).
Surely this would be better then Social services making their trademark snap-shot appraisals that all too often can result in children ending up in irreversible care. The very people who Social Services and family court should be serving , the children end up living a life full on the regrets instilled by this very system. I have an example of a case where a parents dogs often barked, it turned out they had kennels so the RSPCA were called but no problems were found none the less the Social Services got wind inspected the home and an 8 year old girl was put into irreversible care even when it was later proved there was no problems here either!

Police: The police have no role to play in family (civil) law as they can only deal with criminal law but it does illustrate the starkest discrimination the law has to offer.
In my case the initial court order allowed contact with my children to take place via the schools so as to avoid conflict with the mother we would each collect and return them to school at our contact times and this worked fine for over one year.Sadly , and with the help of the biased judge contact was changed so it had to take place outside the former family home. So as per the revised court order I would show up at the prescribed time and place ready to take my sons on for the evening or weekend etc, but then the mother would start withholding the youngest which caused more problems when it later turned out she was bribing him to stay whilst my eldest was almost penalised for coming with me. When I objected to my son being with held, ( he was always pleased to see me after school) the police would be called and in spite of me waving my court order almost Chamberlain style they were unable to enforce it on the mother but were happy to arrest me for breaching the peace if I did not leave confusing the old boy so by 2007 he to was with held and to this date I have not had any of the Court appointed contact and all the police will say is take the mater back to court, what is the point? Mothers are regarded as ‘civil’ whilst Fathers are seen as criminal!

Childhood is such a short span of time we should protect it at all costs!

Children: Children in all walks of life have been given rights in order to protect them and this is right and proper.Except, I believe, between the ages of 11 and 16 where I feel Parental responsibility should not be overruled by a child’s right when all to often they are too young to reason the ramifications. It cannot be right that a child can sue a parent for a relatively minor dispute or indeed be allowed to make false allegations just ask the teacher too!
However in the sacred secret world of Family Court who’s continued rhetoric is ” in the children’s best interest!” seldom allow the children to be heard and all the judge has to work with is a contrived interpretation from a court reporter (SS or CAFCASS) where mother has been the dominating force so the children end up acting on her will not what they truly want which in most cases is to see as much of both parents as possible in spite of separation!
I will go into this more in the paragraph headed The Process further on. I do however believe that children who reach secondary school age should be given the right to alter a court order as their live will become more flexible in their teens and they may just wish o pop in and see either parent at odd times and should not be constrained by an order designed to show them routine and stability in their younger years. Also there may be times a child wants to play football and have dad there during mum’s contact and mum may want to take them to the cinema during dads contact this should be agreed amicably and not by seeking to score points off each other or try to show one parent in a better light then the other. Mothers should no longer be seen as the resident parent and father as the absent one, they should be equal in their parental responsibilities.

PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY: The most important role a person can have in life is that of a Parent. We all come to it with trepidation and rely on our Parents’ experience to handle the initial ‘shock’, but by the time a second child comes along skills are gained and we feel more relaxed, but nonetheless most parents will still have their childrens’ best interests at heart.
One of my children had a soft nature so would cry or object to the slightest thing when young. My other Son was more robust and would walk in with blood dripping from his knee from a football injury but would say nothing. As a caring Dad I would apply the same level of care to both children just in case.

I would link PR to equal Parenting, both Parents would appear on the Birth Certificate should be subjected in law to being responsible for their Child’s Welfare to the age of 18 or leaving home/full time education. Not only in the case of nurturing, education, feeding and home security but as a child gets older and is capable of breaking the law whilst their age all to often enables them to be immune from the law and at such times I believe the Parents (BOTH) should be liable for Fines, Reparation even imprisonment in the case of a Child committing a serious offence such as Rape or Murder.

This I believe would focus the minds of Parents from the start (and maybe would be under age Parents) that it is down to them to make the best effort to do the right thing for their children and not to enter into such an undertaking without considering such facts that could lead to legal ramifications.

I would give credit to much of my opinions on child welfare to Shaun Bailey. He is a wise head on young shoulders and certainly inspires me, I just wish others would listen to this quietly spoken champion of the young!
As a Sub-Heading to this paragraph I would seek to align School with a remit of PR. We entrust Teachers with the care and welfare of our Children for a larger part of their childhood than we see them ourselves so in respect to the Teachers and our responsibility as Parents we should share the task of instilling morals, respect and responsibility onto young minds. Children should be controlled and disciplined when needed by Parents and equally by Teachers. I would also suggest this points to the Education fraternity.

1.Children to be monitored throughout their Primary years including Pre-School and a Report drawn up in the Final Year of Primary School that outlines an individuals’ potential, so that any shortfalls are clearly identified before they move onto Secondary Education and endeavours are made to eradicate such shortfalls before the end of Year 6.
2.Year 6 should be seen as a preparatory year in readiness for what the Child will have to face at Secondary School and to be aware of Peer pressure, Media pressure, the importance of what they can attain from an appropriate Education, Legal Studies, so rights and ramifications can be investigated then finally Sex Education, as by age 11 children would have some understanding today.
3.A true appraisal of an individuals’ ability assessed, so those who excel in academia can follow that route. Those who do not, should be encouraged in aspects they do excel at, such as, Sports, Arts, Music etc and so long as they are supported in the basics of Reading and Writing, should from Year 7 be directed toward vocational training so they can learn Skills and Trades more appropriate to their ability.
4.National Service seems to carry some form of stigma who went through it in the Post War Years. I would however, advocate those children who seek to leave School without Qualification at the earliest leaving date, should be made aware they will only be eligible for Benefit which will only be paid by attending some form of apprenticeship or Further Education culminating in the completion within a minimum 3 Year Course, that they will then leave with a recognised Qualification or Vocational Skill, otherwise the previous 3 year benefit payment will be refundable to the Educational Authority.
It is important that we start now as this proposal will take at least a generation to come through in real terms and a better attitude will emerge by those given this opportunity as our Citizens of the future.
The last question asked on the M.O.J enquiry was ” What question should we have asked?” I offered the suggestion that the number of suicides attributed to failing Family Courts and CSA worldwide should be considered!

No good wearing a purple scarf Dave if you don't really mean it!
Would you prefer this;
Or this? Davey's Law!

THE PROCESS: FAMILY JUSTICE REFORMED: Separating Parents should BOTH be eligible for £500 in Legal Aid so as to arrive at a conciliatory process for the ultimate benefit and security of the children and should submit their claims simultaneously to an Arbitration Service such as ACAS for a jointly agreed order referring to:-

Shared Care
Parental Responsibility
Contact (Reviewable when a Child reaches Age11)
Financial Settlement and Maintenance
This Contract should be binding and presented to a Senior Judge who will also confirm this is Legal and Binding and up to both parties to ensure it works otherwise it is enforceable on each Parent.

Solicitors and Barristers would not be required at this stage as there would be no disputes and therefore would not need to be perpetuated.

Social Services and CAFCASS need not apply, unless there is a history of Violence, Abuse or threat to the Childrens’ Welfare by EITHER Parent. If the Judge has any concerns he should have access to the Familys’ Medical history and thereafter order an investigation so as to prevent false allegations arising at point of separation.

Once it is made clear that this order is binding and enforceable on BOTH Parents, should they wish to return matters to Court it will have to be at the individuals’ own expense as no future Legal Aid will be available and this should focus minds by all concerned to get it right first time.
I have sought to remove the financial incentives and conflict from the Family Court so there would be very rare need for Solicitors, Barristers and social services there!
Grandparents should also have rights of access after separation, but where possible to have access to coincide with the Parents Contact, but above all to be there to show support, stability and continuity to very young children.

Childrens’ Schooling should not be disrupted and both Parents should stay in close contact with the School as often as possible.

Parents should also keep the Children with the same Family GP and notify each other of any concerns that may occur during their respective contact times.
See the full version including my latest letter from the Ministry of Justice by clicking on this blogs title,now we can see what we are up against;

Guido Fawkes offers a comprehensive view of British politics, but has no involvement in the Family Justice movement!


  1. Hello Davey

    When you see your ideas written down and so easy to implement, I find it hard to understand why common sense has not been used by the so called "leaders" and the laws simplified!

    Mind you the need for Solicitors, Barristers and Social Services would be nearly obsoleted as you have stated but you also know they will not give up on such a lucrative business when the rewards are so handsome, and that is why they will always opt for making these "Laws" complex and often chasing their own tails so that they cannot be challenged or beaten unless by the educated.

    I still think that there is more to Family Law (private and public) then meets the eye, and I cannot see it being to long before their "Cock sure" attitude becomes their downfall and they mess up by overlooking the fine detail. There has already been so many families that have been shafted and damaged beyond repair, and I now believe it will be momentarily before the chinks in the armour are exposed and the system can be toppled.

    Keep up the great work mate! Always supporting you as a friend, and shoulder to shoulder as troops in the same battle.



    In 2004 I took matters to Family Court as I knew my former partner would not be conciliatory even though our children said " they loved their Mum and they loved their Dad so would like to see as much of each as possible even though we would be living apart!"

    From March to October 2004 I fought for and achieved;

    Joint residency order
    Parental responsibility (A given to those on the birth certificate today)
    Shared care
    Equal contact

    This cost me £35,000 and I believed it would serve my children till they were of an age that they could make their own decisions on contact probably as they reached secondary education, and although the mother sought to disrupt contact it worked OK until Sept 2007 since when the mother has withheld both my children now 12 and 15.

    Although a truck driver I offered a second family home equal distance to the schools allowing easy access by our children to both homes and I worked through agencies to enable my work patten to to fit all the prescribed contact times, but the toll was in time I could not sustain in effect 2 homes restrictive work and trying to have a life and in the end went bankrupt to the tune of £75,000.

    At that time I learned that my former partner and the new man in her life ( who has daily contact with my sons yet has not spent 30 seconds in family court) could acquire my interest in the former family home for a peppercorn rate , this summer they sold it to their benefit of £240,000. At the time they acquired my home I was told I could have my second home repossessed, it was only early access to my private pension as I turned 50 in 2008 that prevented that, but rendered my 30 year old pension worth just £110 per month.

    (The CSA do not recognise what I have done through family court from 2004 to 2008)

    I am still trying to recover financially, but the CSA have put unreasonable demands on me in spite of my shared care agreement and took half my salary as a dustman,put a lean on my home which once again could be repossessed early in the new year, they want a portion of my £110 per month pension and will be returning me to court next week yet the hardest part in all this is that I have not had contact with my 2 sons since 19th September 2007!

    The CSA act on the mother's say so and take none of my circumstances into account, how can that be fair and reasonable or in the children's best interest as I tried to achieve? She could win millions on the lottery and I could be on a park bench yet still they would purse me!

    What would you do in my position?

  3. Your pain must be awful all I can say to you is shared custody for everyone 50% 50% after a divorce no child support paid by either parent child lives with you 1/3 time with ex 1/2 time .

  4. Davey I really like your website but this is not a system that can be reformed, These people and the system needs closing down, the whole idea of child protection needs to be investigated and a brand new system adopted. The current workers should be in prison.


Lest we forget!

Lest we forget!
In the year we saw the last of the World War One ‘Tommy’s’ complete his journey on this earth and many World War Two warriors now considering how many more memorials they will attend especially in foreign lands, we appreciate what their lives and those who did not return stand for in giving us freedom of speech and a quality of life many of us take for granted and my thoughts of my late father a peace loving man facing the horror of war from the rear gunning turret of a Lancaster Bomber. (click on picture to see him arrive in the US) My Dad, Eddie (1921-1990)

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