Co-operative parenting after separation; from family court to community support

It is approaching time for me to have a rest from blogging for a few weeks and so this will be my last comment until September. Before I head off however I thought it might be useful to consider where we are in the process of change, who is onside and who is not and what the challenges might be ahead of us.

I was alerted to the potential for ongoing struggle by the letter to David Cameron from Alan Beith MP this week. Chair of the Justice Committee, Sir Alan decided that the Prime Minister should be reminded of the decisions that the Justice Committee Report on The operation of the Family Courts had actually made. Focused entirely upon the Justice Committee’s opposition to the insertion of a legislative statement into the Children Act 1989, Sir Alan goes on in his letter to say

‘In coming to this conclusion we heard evidence from a number of organisations on both sides of the debate. Like the Family Justice Review, we concluded that the idea of promoting shared parenting by changing the wording of the Children Act 1989 was seriously flawed.’

Alan Beith goes on to list ten points which he feels is enough evidence to ensure that the government should change track on its intention to change the children act. He also says that

‘We have yet to be provided with any evidence or argument that properly counters the evidence we and the Family Justice Review considered before concluding that there should be no changes to the current legislation.’

and goes on to say

‘We do not consider that the current draft clauses avoid the pitfalls of the Australian experience….’

Which makes Sir Alan sound pretty darned certain that he has got his facts right and like someone who is on a mission to press home a point or two. Am I the only one who at this point, begins to smell a rat?

On May 2nd 2012, Professor Patrick Parkinson from the University of Sydney, gave a presentation at the Palace of Westminster at a seminar organised by the Centre for Social Justice. Entitled ‘Meaningful Reform to The Children Act 1989 – Learning from the Australian Experience’ this presentation takes the controversy over the proposed changes to the children act in the UK and addresses each of the points of concern with careful consideration.

It should be noted that Professor Parkinson is no light weight in this arena and significantly, he does not approach this issue from the perspective of fathers rights or mothers rights. Professor Parkinson is a specialist in family law and child protection and is well-known in Australia for his work concerning child protection. This is a man who knows what is necessary to protect children from harm, he is a man who has had extensive knowledge of the family law changes in Australia and, having heard him speak on a previous occasion, I can comfortably say that he is a man who has a grasp of all of the issues facing families going through separation.

Professor Parkinson gave a measured presentation on May 2nd, in which he discussed the Norgrove review and its ‘heavy reliance’ upon the Australian experience. Professor Parkinson’s drew attention to the evidence that Norgrove used in his report to justify backtracking from his original proposal that there should be change within the children act. Evidence which came from Australia according to Norgrove who writes in the final report –

‘We have also been particularly struck by further evidence, received from Australia, where a similar provision for a ‘meaningful relationship’ was made in their 2006 family law reforms. Evidence has shown increased litigation and that the change has contributed to damage to children because the term ‘meaningful’ has come to be measured in terms of the quantity of time spent with each parent, rather than the quality of the relationship for the child.’

Professor Parkinson’s response to this paragraph, in his presentation, was as follows –

‘The problem with this statement is that it simply cannot be supported by any available evidence. Indeed, as far as litigation rates are concerned the evidence is completely to the contrary. There has actually been a sharp fall in litigation over children since 2006.’

Which not only makes a mockery of the Family Justice Review version but deals neatly with the core arguments in Alan Beith’s letter to the Prime Minister which are that more parents not fewer, will end up in the family courts if there is a change to the children act.

Now I might be slightly over suspicious but whenever an MP or a member of the House of Lords writes to the Prime Minister or the Guardian on matters to do with family separation, I always wonder whether what the motivating force is behind it. Sir Alan has every right of course to write to the Prime Minister and, if he so wishes, make that public in order to ensure that the debate is transparent. However, there are some powerful advocacy services in this country, not all of them using entirely straightforward means to push their arguments home. If the motivation behind Sir Alan’s letter has the slightest whiff of gingerbread about it, transparency might be the last thing achieved.

Professor Parkinson was explicit in his presentation about Gingerbread and the way in which they have (mis)represented the issue of changing the children act. Speaking about the Gingerbread argument that any such change would be the thin end of the wedge, he said that –

‘thin end of the wedge arguments need to be evaluated on their merits. If that is a concern, then it could be dealt with by inserting a sentence in the legislation to the effect that the law provides no presumption either in favour of or against a shared parenting arrangement, as is done in other jurisdictions.’

As Gingerbread are currently involved in efforts to mobilise a coalition against co-operative/shared parenting, I somehow doubt that Professor Parkinson’s helpful suggestion will be taken on board. I foresee a growing movement against shared parenting appearing this autumn, spear-headed by Gingerbread and making use of MP’s and members of the House of Lords, using the same mass lobbying tactics employed over changes to Child Maintenance. Gingerbread may tell us, in pursuit of funding, that they support co-operative parenting, their actions on the ground tell us something else entirely.

Aside from Alan Beith’s letter to the Prime Minister there have been other significant happenings in the field of family separation, the new Child Maintenance Agency is about to be launched replacing the old Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission. The i news paper this week discussed the launch and the issue of doubling the payments that unemployed fathers would be forced to make as well as the issue of chasing old debts. Given that unemployed fathers without the main care of their children do not receive any kind of financial recognition for their parenting in benefit payments, the doubling seems to me, to be unnecessarily harsh, harking back to the old days of the Child Support Agency when dads were bad and in need of punishment.

It will, no doubt, please Gingerbread however, whose spokesperson Caroline Davey, in the same article, spoke of the principle of making sure that old debt was paid by the avoidant father. In Gingerbread land, where all mothers are poor and children, without exception, are starving, the only way to tackle family separation is through pursuit and punishment of errant dads. This powerful lobby group is not going to stop its efforts to make sure the old labels of good mum and bad dad are stuck firmly back in place and my guess is that the autumn will see the parental rights groups lining up once again for battle.

And so as the summer holidays approach it is time for a break from family separation, although living in a separated family as I do, I will be doing what most of us in this situation do at this time of year. This year I will be coordinating family get-togethers, aiming to include everyone, trying to please the old folk as well as the young folk, often failing miserably, because in reality we are negotiating with at least three different family systems that the most sophisticated diary could not cope with. Mostly I will be hoping that somewhere, at some point, we might just touch that magical place where the schisms and fissures fall away and we find ourselves all together in the shared physical and emotional space that we have carved out as belonging to us. When we do it will be worth it but to get there it takes the most phenomenal effort and a whole load of compromise, co-ordination and care.

Come autumn then, when the anti cooperative parenting lobby gears up in full, Professor Parkinson’s words should be the spur to our continued struggle to ensure that the possibility of children maintaining a meaningful relationship with both parents and their wider family becomes real.

One of the main lessons from Australia is that there is benefit in moving away from court-centric approach to family justice in favour of a community centric approach to family relationships. Legislation needs to be drafted with that emphasis in mind.’

As Professor Parkinson’s presentation shows, the anti co-operative parenting lobby are going to use fogging, misrepresentation and a wider range of other tactics to resist and derail change. And so the focus of those of us who believe that co-operation is possible, needs to be firmly upon the change that we can drive through our society and the support that we can provide to help more families work together.

Co-operative parenting isn’t easy and community support for it is going to be essential if more children are going to benefit from it. The single parent lobby would like to see the project fall at the first hurdle if possible so that they can prevent the changes that the government are pushing through. If ever there was a time for the rest of us to work together, that time is now.

Key points for UK thinking – from Professor Parkinson’s presentation

1. Emphasise the importance of maintaining children’s relationships with both parents and with others who are important to them.

2. Avoid presumptions about time.

3. Avoid bifurcation in the law of parenting after separation

PS: After I published this post, the news that David Norgrove will Chair the new Family Justice Board had just emerged. Can I feel the co-operative parenting project coming under threat? you bet I can. Can I see a watered down version of what is really needed being brought in? Yes.  Can I see the misrepresentations and the obfuscation and the continuation of the blatant anti father policy by the likes of Gingerbread et al, very definitely. Will it stop me continuing my work with separating families . No.  Will I stop speaking up and speaking out on it. Not any time soon.   See you in the Autumn.


  1. Enjoy your holiday, I hope it all works out!

    If we truly can avoid bifurcation in the law after separation, then no presumptions of time are needed. However I fear that society is so set in thinking that dad post divorce is every other weekend contact and thus to change this presumption there needs to be something somewhere that states that every other weekend does not constitute a meaningful relationship. That said every other weekend is many things. Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon is constant clock watching. Friday afternoon to Monday at school is two full days of family time and potential for involvement with school too!
    Bifurcation also is not just happening because of the law, but also due to the ignorance of schools, medical staff and similar who time and time again deny father’s their legal right to get information about their children. The more tenacious ones complain and eventually get what the law says they are entitled to, the less tenacious ones just give up!


  2. Hi Karen,

    Hope you get a well deerved rest from all your hard work this year.

    As soon as I read Beith’s letter to the PM I was obviously horrified.

    I wrote to the Lib Dem website immediately and pointed out the inaccuracies, untruths and downright falsehoods in his comments. I even deleted a comment at the end of my response which I thought might put things in perspective where I was going to point out a flaw in Beiths’s reasoning by reminding him of his scandalous expense claims of a few years ago (he and his wife claiming on the same property – second home). I figured I should keep it clean and not come across as a ranter!

    I even cited Prof Parkinson’s research and asked why this had not been considered. I asked why Beith and his so called Justice committee had not (in their self-titled excellent research , looked at any other valuable studies from around the world.

    I will certainly keep writing to the powers that be. I did write to the PM too but that seemed to disappear in to the ether and I never received my verification email from No 10 to lodge the communication – I’ll try again.

    I wish Gingerbread would be shown up for the funding hungry gender-biased quango that they truly are.

    We should all go in to inter-stellar overdrive in September and lobby, campaign and badger until our voices are heard and acknowledged.

    Keep the faith friends.


  3. Gingerbread et al- its a powerful lobby. Reminds me of the various lobby groups who oppose change in the good ole USA. I hate to clutch at straws but the fact that change is being considered is in itself progress of a kind? Norgrove? well what can you say?

    The forces of light as it were are small and have less clout of course.One thing that strikes me is that we lack political spin. I don’t know what the answer to that is but where is Geldof or some high profile spokesperson who can drag the masses from their Olympic induced ennui? The horror is of course a new Labour government that will maintain the status quo and ensure that in the future our children find themselves where we are.

    I am off to court today . Second hearing to look at holiday contact. Ironically mum has taken the kids off to Spain and will not be there. Should be interesting to see what Judge x makes of it .Will he:

    A. Agree every other weekend and a midweek overnight as i requested at the first hearing but which was refused as being “high risk”?


    B. Ask which part of Spain they have gone to and comment on the dire state of the Spanish economy?

    I am facing PA like many and have no doubt where this all may lead to. Her absence is about control and sending a message to the children that mum is impervious to any outside control or restriction.

    Enjoy your break Karen (sounds hectic!) and most of all thank you.

    Just posted a comment on the Gingerbread forum. A mum who has set up her own blog “for a bit of a giggle”. She did not see her dad for over twenty years and of course since the split her own mother has been a godsend. Her ex will have to try hard to see the kids and must “want it.” She has as she says 93% of the care but she is coping ok. For some reason her ex likes to communicate with her by e mail and avoid doorstep confrontations often in front of the children at contact. Her mother is of course up on a pedestal.

    Gingerbread? Norgrove? Theres a great scene at the start of “Gone Baby Gone” where the narrator asks his priest how can you protect yourself from all the evil in this world?
    The priest reply’s “look what god said to his children…I send you out like sheep among wolves, be wise as a serpent yet as innocent as a dove.”.Times are hard when an old Cubanista is turning to religion!

    Wherever we get our strength and solace from the struggle for change and for our children’s right to love both parents will always be a hard one.
    Who said this journey would be easy?

    More strength and power to the men and women who tread this path. More strength to those who guide and support others along the way.

    I’m off to court.Or should it be “.Estoy a punto de ser shafted?”. Now wheres that sombrero?


    1. Vanessa Redgrave has been a great campaigner
      A recent article reads:-
      ‘Vanessa Redgrave is devoted to her 5 grandchildren.
      She is a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.
      She’s opening the Brighton Festival by leading the children’s parade.
      She says she wants the festival to bring the young together with the old’

      Is she a person we could contact as the figurehead for ‘Grandchildren’s Rights’ to have contact with grandparents and both parents?

      My grandson age 12 denied all contact with his father, paternal grandparents and fathers relatives for the last two years.Family Court judge (and Cafcass) believed only the mothers allegations.

      Karen -have a good holiday


  4. Well, why am I not suprised. Why! Because the British Govenrment isn’t interested in this issue, It’s like a terrier nipping at their ankles when it should be a Doberman, unfortunately the voice of the people regarding this issue is largely ignored. Time and time again the voice of suffering fathers continues to be largely ignored. The same thing occurs with British judges in family courts, they simply are not interested in the fathers plight, it’s an issue that won’t go away but still we continue to see this huge misappropriation of justice, I never got my chance to say my say in court because the judge listened to my ex and her sister, the court papers were delivered to me for my appearance to give my side of the story but they were delivered several days late, past my date of appearance, The judge broke the law because it was an “EX PARTY” situation, my ex lied though her back teeth, the judge issued a no contact order, I was missing my children so I sent texts asking my ex if I could talk to my children, one text was to wish her a happy birthday, she had me arrested by sussex police where that night was spent in a cell, the next day I appeared in court where my ex appeared and sat stairing at the table top, the judge said, 2What have you got to say for yourself”, I replied, “I just wanted to talk tomy children”. He replied, “You face going to prison”
    How can this be fair justice, my solicitor proved that it was ex party and all of the texts were of a friendly nature and all were of myself wishing verbal contact with my children, my ex dropped the case and it was dismissed by another judge, How on earth can that first judge be capable to sit in judgement of peolpes lives, in my personal opinion he isn’t fit to hold that position.


  5. We fathers should stop dreaming, this issue of equality will not change in our life time, unless we make it change. Have a good break Karen. By the way I’m still on the roundabout after nearly 5 years battling to see my son, I must be crazy, but I carry on!


    1. Many thanks for the youtube link, el dermo. Personal anecdotes like this by the children involved are about the most powerful things we can have. Are there more somewhere please?



  6. glad you’ve addressed these latest developments karen. it makes one embarrassed to be a human being when we have people like Norgrove and Beith in this world, who want to uphold state-sponsored child abuse.

    it is not simply that they are very poor in their research (if you can call it that), because i don’t believe for a second that they did any. they are just plain downright malicious politicians – the kind that need to be jettisoned for the sake of a more moral world.

    sorry to sound harsh, but such cretins deserve no sympathy, and should never be given the benefit of the doubt. Nor is reasoning with them possible. But those that might come under their stinking influence might not be forsaken.


  7. Beith has little credibility in general these days and has none in family law whatsoever. I doubt his initiative will have much effect on a government which has already said it will act to change the act, come what may.

    Beith’s puny effort is best responded to by firing off a letter to your own M.P. to say how much you disagree with it, citing your own case exoerience.


  8. Sir Alan Beith’s objections to shared parenting legislation closely reflect those of many family lawyers. According to them, the status quo is fine. No change to the Children Act is necessary. It has been suggested in many quarters that such blatant resistance to change is fuelled by vested interests. It is certainly not too difficult to understand this hypothesis: the introduction of Shared Parenting legislation in Australia led to a 30% reduction in family law litigation.

    Mr Beith’s opposition to Shared Parenting legislation is, perhaps, best viewed in some historical and cultural context.

    In the 19th century, British family law was such that, if the father so wished, separated mothers were likely to lose all contact with their children. Development of the law occurred very slowly indeed. Some change came with the Child Custody Act of 1839 and the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857, but it was not until 1925 that the welfare of the child became paramount. At every stage, there were numerous ‘Mr Beiths’ who resisted any development in family law.

    Even today, in certain Middle Eastern cultures, separated mothers are treated despicably and are often denied access to their children. Here, too, there are ‘Mr Beiths’ resisting change.

    Sadly, the injustices once experienced by British mothers are now being visited upon British fathers in 21st century Britain.
    A father can be fully involved in the day-to-day care of his children. And yet, following separation, he can find himself completely excluded from their lives.

    How can this possibly be permitted to occur?

    Following separation, the family courts automatically seek to anoint one parent with the status of ‘Primary Carer’. This will usually be the parent who, prior to separation, undertook 51% or more of childcare duties. In most cases, it is the mother. The law then bestows upon that Primary Carer a grossly disproportionate degree of power and control over the children, vis-à-vis the ‘Non-Primary Carer’ (the father).

    Of course, in most cases, separated parents are able to focus upon the well-being of their children and come to a mutually agreed childcare arrangement.

    However, in many acrimonious cases, the Primary Carer ‘uses the children as weapons’ – to coin a phrase adopted by Sir Nicholas Wall, the President of the Family Division. The children are used as a means of punishing a former partner by restricting contact. Such abhorrent behaviour currently goes unpunished by the family courts, their rationale being that to punish the children’s Primary Carer is tantamount to punishing the children themselves. With no effective deterrent, such behaviour is set to continue. As we know, our Government is looking at ways of introducing such deterrence.

    Single Parent-Primary Carer or Shared Parenting?

    There now exists a plethora of contemporary scientific evidence which demonstrates, beyond all reasonable doubt, the significant emotional, developmental and educational benefits for children of their being permitted to remain in a close and meaningful relationship with both their parents, post separation/divorce. Indeed, fifteen such scientific reports were presented to Sir Nicholas Wall in the case of Re D (Children) [2010] EWCA Civ 50. Sir Nicholas reserved his judgment for three weeks in order to read this very extensive evidence. He concluded that family laws potentially relegated the harm done to children by irrevocably damaging their meaningful relationship with the Non-Primary Carer.

    Mr Cameron – to whose Government the scientific evidence was also presented – understands the need for family law to develop in line with contemporary scientific evidence and with the realities of 21st century parenting. We need only to look at last Summer’s riots to see where fatherlessness can lead. In contrast, Mr Beith appears ‘behind the curve’.

    I am one such Non-Primary Carer. Before separation, I was actively involved in the lives of my two sons. Post separation, I was excluded. Despite numerous court appearances, including three at the Court of Appeal, and despite being found by the courts to be an entirely loving, caring and responsible father, I have lost meaningful contact with my sons. I fought for years in a legal system which simply could not understand and/or give due weight to the importance of a father (or ‘Non-Primary Carer’) in the optimal development of a child.

    As I see it, the problem lies in the fact that the judiciary has opted to interpret the Paramountcy Principle of the Children Act (1989) by using the ‘Single Parent-Primary Carer’ paradigm.
    Relocation law, in the form of Payne v Payne (2001), is a prime example: it rides rough-shod over any possibility of shared parenting by placing thousands of miles and any number of oceans between children and their Non-Primary Carer.

    What Mr Cameron seeks to do is to rectify this judicial error by making it very explicit indeed to the judiciary that the full and meaningful involvement of a good and loving father is vitally important in serving the paramount interests of a child. In reality, there is no material conflict between the Paramountcy Principle and the Principle of a Presumption of Shared Parenting.

    Bruno D’Itri


    1. Well said Bruno. Let’s hope that Mr Cameron and his coalition government effect a real and positive change to the disgraceful state of the family law system. We can certainly do without the Alan Beiths of this world. Self-serving politicians only help themselves.


    2. @Even today, in certain Middle Eastern cultures, separated mothers are treated despicably and are often denied access to their children”
      sorry not entirely convinced.. why ?…
      because even today fathers can be and are denied access to their chidlren.

      how do I know this ?
      because today i have an abusive and violent ex holding on to my children in Bahrain ( yes that country that cant even uphold the rights of its own citizens ).
      my kids and I are british, the mother is SE Asian and yet a country like Bahrain is using religion to allow an abusive mother( to my self and my children ) to deny me access and even my parentla rights ( but was quite happy to demand large maintainance ) .. why does a high flying lawyer needs maintainance ( dont they earn enough as it is ?)



  9. Thanks Karen, as always, for your enduring energy and leading edge clarity even as you go on holiday!

    I particularly like the personal paragraph that describes what separated families face as they try to organise things together as best you can. That description is, I guess, a good description for most families too.

    In fact, having been on holiday with our sons and our un-separated families (so far), I have to say that it was hard work too! However, we came back refreshed from being well away from internet and news of the world.

    Hope you are doing the same and get the same benefit too!



  10. Now is the most important time of our lives. As in all things legal and political (that grind oh so slowly) it’s usually the strongest lobbyists who win. Never mind being true or honest or realistic, it’s the sheer force of numbers that will gain political sway.
    I ask you all to join 38 degrees, a lobbying group, and persuade them to take up the banner of “shared parenting”
    As above, Bob Geldof shooting from the hip and Vanessa Redgrave extolling the rights of Grandchildren and Grandparents would be a massive shot in the arm for our campaign.
    We have to stand up and be counted, there is nothing wrong with demonstrating…..this is one of the basic auspices upon which democracy has been built.
    My plea is not to hide under a bushell. Time for complaining has gone. The sores of the past are still there. We need to galvinise ourselves into a strong campaign for true family justice.

    Kind regards


  11. When parents separate or divorce, the court automatically seeks to anoint one parent (usually the mother) with the legal status of ‘primary carer/resident parent’. It then bestows upon that parent a grossly disproportionate degree of power and control over the children vis-à-vis the ‘secondary carer/non-resident parent’ (dad).

    In many acrimonious cases an embittered resident parent uses this power to exclude the second parent from the lives of the children. The courts are reluctant to punish this abhorrent behaviour, their rationale being that to punish the primary carer is tantamount to punishing the children. With no deterrence, this behaviour is set to continue.

    Quite naturally, an unjustly excluded parent will employ the very costly (£200 plus per hour) services of solicitors and barristers in a desperate effort to regain contact with his children. Truly obscene sums of money begin to flow from broken families into the coffers of the law firms. The Family Justice Industry feeds upon the love an excluded parent has for his children.

    A presumption of Shared Parenting would permit a loving parent to be fully involved in the parenting of his children, post separation or divorce, without the need for costly and lengthy litigation. In Australia, for example, litigation reduced by circa 30% following the introduction of Shared Parenting legislation. Of course, in those relatively few cases where there is a serious and proven risk of harm, contact can and should be restricted.

    Plainly, a similar reduction of circa 30% in British family court litigation would prove extremely damaging to the Family Justice Industry. It is little wonder, then, that the Law Society is vehemently against a presumption of Shared Parenting. Family lawyers are not saints; we should not naively assume that their leaders would place genuine justice for parents and children ahead of their desire to maintain their income stream.

    The judiciary is no better. Sir Nicholas Wall – the former President of the Family Division – sought to blame parents for “using their children as weapons”, without accepting in the least that it is the System itself which facilitates, encourages and fails to deter such abhorrent behaviour.

    The real scandal is that the Law Society and the judiciary appear to have succeeded in persuading our Government to significantly dilute its original Shared Parenting proposals. There is now a very serious risk that the unsatisfactory status quo is set to continue.

    Shame on the Law Society.
    Shame on the judiciary.
    Shame on the Government.

    Bruno D’Itri


  12. History teaches us that powerful and wealthy “special interest groups” have direct and influential access to Government officials and often get their own way, irrespective of what is actually ‘good’ and ‘just’ for society.

    The raison d’etre of the Law Society is to serve the interests of the Legal Industry. Of this, there can be no doubt.

    The Law Society is perfectly aware of the extensive and compelling scientific evidence demostrating, beyond all reasonable doubt, the significant benefits for children of their remaining in meaningful contact with both parents, post separation or divorce.

    However, the Law Society is also very aware that Shared Parenting legislation is likely to be highly damaging to the interests of its members, as profitable litigation would decrease.

    The Law Society faces a real dilemma…

    Should it stand up for the interests of children and support Shared Parenting legislation or, instead, should it stand up for the interests of its members and oppose Shared Parenting legislation?

    It has opted firmly for the latter, and is using all of its sophistry and guile in a concerted effort to persuade our Government that Shared Parenting legislation will be harmful to child welfare.

    Some Government officials, such as Alan Beith, have been taken in. Other Ministry of Justice officials have also been taken in and have recently stated that Shared Parenting legislation is NOT actually expected to alter outcomes in family justice cases. The sole purpose of any new legislation, they have said, is to dispel the widely held ‘perception’ of anti-father bias in the system!

    We must do ALL that we can to expose the immoral behaviour of the Law Society in order to serve the genuine interests of thousands of children.

    Best regards
    Bruno D’Itri


  13. Hi Bruno

    So far as lobbying goes that’s the way it works. Working Democracy if you like.
    You have to use the system that we have to your best advantage.

    I understand your anger because I have experienced some of the prejudices you refer to, but to conclude that exposing immoral behaviour of the law society is going to encourage a change in thinking that will support your point of view is the wrong way to go about it.

    If I was in charge and you told me I was being immoral I would not feel encouraged to change my ways, in fact I would probably remain more entrenched in my point of view.

    For instance, take the case of the Gurkhas and Joanna Lumleys support of them in their campaign for UK Citizenship. The reason she was so successful…..because she was high profile and media savvy, but most importantly she praised the very people who were offering up the most opposition. One moment in particular sticks in my mind….she came out of a meeting with Prime Minister Brown and told her waiting audience what a busy and clever man the Prime Minister was and how good it was of him to give her the time of day.

    That’s the way to make a change.


    1. Hi Andy

      It all depends upon whose mind one’s trying to change.

      Trying to change the minds of the leaders of the Law Society would be quite pointless, in my view. Their financial interests are too very firmly entrenched in the status quo.

      Instead, trying to change the minds of the people ‘in charge’ – that is the Government and the Great British Public, to whom politicians are accountable – should be the aim. I certainly agree that we should not unnecessarily upset either MPs or the Public. That is why I disagree with Father 4 Justice actions which inconvenience members of the Public (bridges being closed etc).

      Therefore, I agree with you regaridng the approach we should take with decision makers. All of the letters I have sent to numerous MPs over the past 4 years have been polite and constructive. I attended a Families Need Fathers Seminar at Westminster Hall in 2010, which was attended by a number MPs, and this was very polite and unconfrontational.

      Interestingly, not all the members of FNF agree with their strategy of a polite approach! They say that FNF has achieved very little over the past decades by adopting this softly, softly approach. They say that fathers’ and childrens’ rights were placed on the politicians’ radar by the actions of F4J! It’s hard to argue otherwise!

      However, if F4J actions gave the issue the necessary publicity, and if FNF manage to politely engage with MPs and persuade them with rational argument and empirical evidence, then we might just win!

      Bruno D’Itri


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