The thing is I haven’t. I do appreciate that Colin is coming at this from a good place; and it may seem odd that running a dads group like OnlyDads I am not giving this an almighty push! So I feel I need to explain:
For me, there are dangers in changing family justice legislation that has, at its heart, the principle of putting the welfare of children first. There is (in my view) nothing wrong with the law itself! There are problems in the way this law is being implemented however.
Let me stress immediately, that I believe passionately that the children of divorced and separated parents all to frequently miss out on a continuing meaningful and ongoing relationship with their Dads. And this is nothing short of a national disgrace!
And why is this?
The list could be a long one, but our evidence from talking to thousands of mums and dads highlight these as genuine reasons:
- Children’s Act proceedings go on for many years. Many dads I speak to recognise that this ongoing battle with mum does little for their children, so they stop. the efficiency of the whole legal machine needs to be addressed.
- Many Dads cannot afford proper legal representation to “fight” for their children. All too often, those who do it on their own, give up half way through. In this regard I am hoping our new McKenzie Friend service will be able to offer real and meaningful support in the months and years ahead.
- I really question whether CAFCASS Officers, Judges, and Solicitors/Mediators have sufficient training and education to help them appreciate that having a default position of “alternate weekend contact for Dad” should not be the norm. I would like to see organisations like Resolution revise their Code of Practice to ensure that all members are helped to remove tendencies towards gender presumption.
- We can’t shy away from the fact that some Dads let the side down!
The one thing I do know is that Colin is raising important issues. While I can’t sign his petition, I do know no harm will come from having the debate!