The wisdom of Grandparents could be the KEY to Family Law & Child Welfare Reform Worldwide
The wisdom of Grandparents could be the KEY to Family Law & Child Welfare Reform Worldwide
MATT O’CONNOR, founder of Fathers4Justice, calls for Government action in the wake of an early-deaths scandal
THE Sunday Express last week published alarming figures which showed that “non-resident” parents, almost exclusively fathers, are three times more likely to die early after separation. Since 2003, 8,515 non-resident parents have died compared to 3,090 resident parents.
The death rate is nearly 19 times the number of British forces killed in Afghanistan. Yet, despite a request, no causes of death were given by the Department for Work and Pensions.
If anything demonstrated the lack of concern for the welfare of Britain’s fathers, it is the failure of the Government to launch a full-scale inquiry into these figures and uncover the truth behind them.
If these deaths had occurred on a British road there would be an outcry, an inquiry and steps taken to make that road safer. So why does nobody care about Britain’s fathers?
When I met Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, a few years ago, he told me the issue of fathers and family breakdown was a “political taboo”. He was right.
For too long the Government has demonised fathers, labelling them “deadbeats” and “feckless” for cheap political capital, while denying them and their children the most basic of human rights: the right to family life.
To add insult to injury the Conservative Party betrayed fathers after breaking a 2010 election pledge to introduce shared parenting.
Politicians can’t even bring themselves to mention the f-word, “father”, either in political discourse or in legislation, where the role of fathers has been abolished legally in the 1989 Children Act, biologically in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and emotionally in our secret family courts.
Fathers are even called “non-resident” parents by the state in a euphemism cynically designed to mask the anti-father discrimination inherent in the system.
Over the past 20 years, the cancer of family breakdown has eaten away at the role of men and fathers in society.
Millions of children are growing up without the love and support of a father. One in four children live in a fatherless home. Family breakdown costs £44billion a year; more than our entire defence budget.
The destructive outcomes that flow from the exclusion of men from families are hiding in plain sight yet politicians refuse to address them.
Worse still, men have been ruthlessly pursued by agencies such as the Child Support Agency, whose Orwellian powers demonise and criminalise them as it pursues a broken child-maintenance model.
At Fathers4Justice we witness on a daily basis the suffering inflicted on men by the state.
The removal of children from a father is one of the most punitive sanctions the state can take against an individual yet, over the past 20 years, this has become the norm and has created a new “gender apartheid” which has reduced fathers to the status of McDads, sperm banks and cashpoints.
The outcomes are catastrophic. Men have been exiled from their children, excluded from their homes, pushed into extreme poverty and left depressed and suicidal.
It is no coincidence that the biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide.
I know because in 2001 I had lost my children and home after a difficult divorce. I can only describe the experience of being torn from my children as a “living bereavement”.
Unable to find help, I plunged into a dark pit of despair and at one point, with just £15 left in my pocket, had given up.
The pain of living had become intolerable. It was only a small picture of my two young boys in my wallet that saved me.
I managed to pick myself up and start Fathers4Justice but thousands of other men are not so lucky.
The spectre of depression and suicide is a silent, serial killer of men yet few people acknowledge the role family breakdown has in these deaths.
That’s why I am calling for a Minister for Men, to champion the rights of men and fathers, and give us a voice in government.
We can only begin to address the crisis through open debate and by taking meaningful steps to ensure fathers are recognised in law and enjoy shared parenting and child support rights.
WE ALSO need a safety net to support men and a major public health initiative to address what author Warren Farrell told me is the “glass cellar” (where men are at the top but also at the bottom); we die younger, are more likely to be homeless, be victims of violence, be murdered and incarcerated.
In particular we must address issues such as fatherlessness, divorce, depression, male suicide, prostate cancer, male infertility and the worrying trend in low testosterone, which affects one in four men.
These common-sense initiatives can only lead to better outcomes for our children, our families and our country, and significantly reduce the costs of family breakdown and men’s health issues to the taxpayer.
In the meantime, thousands of families in Fathers4Justice will write to Mr Duncan Smith calling for a full inquiry into the shocking death rates among separated fathers and remind him of the words of civil rights activist Frederick Douglass who said: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” ((READ MORE))
Decisions by secret courts that can lead to children being taken from their parents or old people forced into care homes are finally to be opened up to public scrutiny.
Under rules set out yesterday, future judgments in the family courts and the Court of Protection must be made public except in cases where there is a clear reason to dictate they should not be.
Expert witnesses, including social workers, should also be named in public, as should anyone found responsible for wrongdoing.
The landmark changes break a silence that has surrounded family justice for nearly 100 years.
They also mark a major victory for the Daily Mail which has campaigned against secret courts and exposed a series of major scandals over the past year resulting from justice being conducted behind closed doors.
The new rules, laid down by the most senior family judge, President of the Family Division Sir James Munby, say that judgments in the family courts and the Court of Protection must always be publicised unless there are ‘compelling reasons’ why not.
Only children and adults caught up in disputes and members of their families should be protected by anonymity.
The guidelines warn that secrecy prevents families who have been involved in cases from complaining when they believe they have suffered injustice.
Sir James said in guidance sent to judges that there would be ‘an immediate and significant change in practice in relation to the publication of judgments in family courts and the Court of Protection’.
He added: ‘In both courts there is a need for greater transparency in order to improve public understanding of the court process and confidence in the court system.
‘At present too few judgments are made available to the public, which has a legitimate interest in being able to read what is being done by judges in its name.’
The Mail’s campaign revealed last April that the Court of Protection – set up by the last Labour government to deal with the affairs of those too ill to make decisions for themselves – had jailed a woman in secret and without publishing any record.
A Birmingham judge imprisoned Wanda Maddocks, 50, for contempt of court for trying to get her father out of a care home where he had been ordered to stay.
Miss Maddocks had no lawyer to represent her, and no judgment was published. She served six weeks.
Everything that happened to the mother, Alessandra Pacchieri, was decided by the courts in secret.
In the same month we disclosed the case of the ‘irreproachable’ father who spent 12 years and £100,000 in the family courts trying to win the right to see his 14-year-old daughter – and who still has not won his case for access.
Currently, secrecy in the family courts – which can remove children from dangerous parents, order them to be adopted, and decide on their custody – is governed by 1960 law.
This makes it contempt of court to discuss a case when no judgment has been published, a crime punishable by two years in prison. Successive attempts to open up the courts have been thwarted.
In 2006, Labour Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer blocked a law that would have allowed more light in because state-subsidised charities such as the NSPCC and the National Children’s Bureau opposed the idea.
Labour’s 2005 Mental Capacity Act, pushed through by Lord Falconer, set up the Court of Protection. Its rules say ‘the general rule is that a hearing is to be held in private’.
Sir James Munby, who took over a year ago as President of the Family Division, which includes responsibility for both courts, said his new guidance would take effect from February 3.
He added that further guidance and formal legal practice directions will follow. There may yet be full Parliamentary legislation, although Sir James said this is ‘unlikely in the near future.’
He said that current rules are ‘inappropriate where family members wish to discuss their experiences in public, identifying themselves and making use of the judgement.
‘Equally, they may be inappropriate in cases where findings have been made against a person and the court concludes it is in the public interest for that person to be identified.’ View other’s comments ((HERE))
Please Visit: www.confidareindia.com as it can ultimately solve your marital problems and help you get peace. The new thing today is, 7 days a week guidance to men facing serious marital problems.
A lot of men’s rights activists today provide some guidance online or in person. Just imagine, some very credible Men’s Rights Activists look into your problems, spend enough time understanding the problem and guiding or coaching you to solve the problem, how it will be?
Imagine, you can get daily access (whenever you need) to best of the best highly experienced Men’s Rights Activists and get their advice, how it will be for you?
If you are looking for some peace of mind, clarity, some legal strategies, then Confidare India is the place for you and you must get in touch with members of Confidare at the earliest.
Confidare is started and run by prominent men’s rights activists like Virag Dhulia, Jyoti Tiwari, Rajesh Vakharia and Anil Kumar among many others. It has Men’s Community Centers in Bangalore, Delhi and Nagpur.
These leaders have recognized that a guy suffering from pain and injustice (from courts), needs a lot of attention and guidance to defend himself properly, get peace of mind and then how he can slowly but surely come out of the entire problem. This requires thorough guidance, NOT just some citation or judgement or some 15 minutes of advice on phone.
One can be member of Confidare by paying a small nominal membership fee. It works out to be just Rs.16/- (Rupees sixteen) per day to be a member of Confidare for 6 months. That is less than cost of 2 cups of tea in a roadside stall in various cities of India. The low fee of Rs.2800/- for Half Year is maintained so that even many poor and lower middle class men can afford to take its membership.
No doubt, it is a small fee one pays for getting continued attention, guidance, advice care and responsibility from very well versed experts of men’s rights movement. The most value one gets is, when one faces emergencies from 498a or any emergency in other family court cases or during out of court settlements.
Jyoti Tiwari: 98107 42561 (Delhi)
Exclusive By Caroline Wheeler, Political Editor
THE heartbreak of family separation is sending absent parents to an early grave, shock new figures reveal.
Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that parents who leave their children are almost three times more likely to die early than those who continue to live with their offspring.
The information was unearthed by the Sunday Express by comparing the number of Child Support Agency (CSA) cases that were closed following the death of the “non-resident” with the number of cases closed due to the death of the “parent with care”.
The figures show that since June 2003, 8,515 non-resident parents have died compared to 3,090 resident parents. All are likely to have been aged between 20 and 60 with children under the age of 18.
According to the information released under the Freedom of Information Act, 94.8 per cent of CSA cases involved a male non-resident parent.
No cause of death was given despite the request asking whether the deaths were attributable to suicide, drug or alcohol abuse, accidental death or other preventable cause. Information on the prevalence of mental illness among non-resident parents was also unavailable.
Last night Matt O’Connor, founder of Fathers 4 Justice, called for the Department for Work and Pensions to launch an investigation into the figures, which he described as “alarming”.
Mr O’Connor told the Sunday Express: “The Department for Work and Pensions has a responsibility to go out and conduct some meaningful research to understand what is actually behind these figures.
“These people who are dying are taxpayers and voters and the Government has a responsibility to go out and try to understand why these figures are so alarmingly high.
“It is not enough to say we don’t know why they are this way; Commission the data, commission the research and get to the truth.
“And the truth may well be that suicide and alcoholism is related to family breakdown because everything flows and there is always cause and effect, so it is up to the DWP to do some research into this and that is what we are calling for.”
Mr O’Connor admitted that during the course of his own marriage breakdown he had suicidal thoughts.
“Since I began Fathers 4 Justice I cannot tell you about the number of individual cases I have dealt with of fathers, who have thrown themselves in front of trains, thrown themselves off bridges; it is a litany of misery and heartache,” he said.
“I am not surprised about all by this illuminating piece of information because I think it does illustrate that there is a real issue.
“There is no money being spent on fathers or men and one of the things we are calling for is a Minister for Men, to champion these kinds of issues.
“If you lose your children, you lose your home, you effectively lose your life.
“You will be hounded and perused by this Government on the basis that you have no rights to your children in law, but you have a responsibility to pay.
“And the vast majority of dads pay child support.
“Those that don’t pay generally can’t pay because they are living in bedsits in poverty.
“If you dare miss a payment, you will have your passport taken from you, you will be jailed, you will be punished in every way possible.”
He added: “This should be a public health issue; it is affecting so many people who are touched by the cancer of family breakdown who are also driven to some real desperate lengths and we deal with this on a daily basis. It is horrific.
“Fathers fall into alcoholism, sometimes drugs and then depression and it is serious downward spiral and there is a very thin line between being home one day and living on the streets and being suicidal the next.”
Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, chairman of the Justice for Families group, told the Sunday Express he would raise the figures, which also show an exponential growth in the number of non-resident and resident parent deaths in the past decade, with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
“These figures are very concerning and warrant further investigation. Figures can hide all sorts of misery behind them,” Mr Hemming said.
“It is important to understand what is going on behind them and I will be writing to the Minister to request that they are looked into and more research is done on this issue.”
Last night a spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions told the Sunday Express: “We would not wish to speculate on the reasons behind the causes of death but clearly there could be a variety of factors involved.” END
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