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Saturday
Aug272016

Children Resisting Contact: Aberdeen and Edinburgh sessions

Frénk van der Linden interviewing his motherFNF Scotland is holding training events in Aberdeen on Thursday 22nd September and Edinburgh on 22nd November.  On each date there is a session for professionals in the afternoon and one for parents in the evening.  These sessions are a chance to explore issues ranging from children resisting contact through to complete rejection of a previously loved parent. 

Our speakers are  Nick Child, retired Child Psychiatrist and Pat Barclay, Child and Couple Separation Counsellor and Family Consultant.  Further information about the topics we will be covering is available on Nick Child's web site.

Sessions are based round the showing of short extracts from a wonderful Dutch documentary film: Rewind - my parent’s divorce.  The film is a retrospective of filmmaker Frénk van der Linden’s family separation 40 years before, after which his parents never met up again.  The two children were alienated from their mother during their teens. The story is told entirely through Frénk’s interviews with his separated parents and there is a surprise ending.

At each stage in discussing this true story the participants will be asked to consider how to resolve the situation and assist the children and parents. 

For bookings see the following:

Aberdeen afternoon session 22/9/16

Aberdeen evening session 22/9/16

Edinburgh afternoon session 22/11/16

Edinburgh evening session 22/11/16

Wednesday
Jul202016

Teenagers mental health improved by contact with fathers

Dr FabriciusTeenagers who think they don’t matter much to their fathers or stepfathers face significant risks to their mental health, according to a study by Dr William Fabricius. The study involved 392 13- to 16-year-olds from communities in Arizona and California in the United States, as reported in the  Child and Family Blog .

Mattering to fathers predicted future mental health over and above mattering to mothers.

The risk to adolescent mental health was also independent of similar, already well-known, levels of risk associated with intimate partner violence between parents as well as frequent and intense but non-violent parental conflict (nagging, arguing, getting angry, and yelling).

    “Although they may tell you that you’re old fashioned, they still want you there. Drive-by fathering doesn’t typically work well for adolescents.”

"The findings of this study should prompt searching questions. We should re-examine how fathers are expected to engage in adolescents’ lives. Our society’s expectations are often dictated by working practices, family norms and parental separation. This study suggests that, because our policies and practices often limit fathers’ engagement, we may be missing opportunities to make children more resilient, and thus to protect them from depression, anxiety, aggression, delinquency and behavioral problems at school."

Wednesday
Jul202016

Poland penalised for court delays in resolving father's contact dispute 

The European Court of Human Rights has awarded a Polish father compensation after ruling that Poland breached Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.  In the judgement Malec v Poland as reported in Family Law Week the ECHR awarded Mr Malec 7,000 euros in damages and 5,000 euros to cover his legal costs.

The parents separated in 2008, and when contact problems developed the father obtained an interim contact order in November 2010.  His contact with his child became irregular and the conflict between the parents escalated. Subsequently, between May 2011 and January 2012 almost no contact took place. Afterwards, contact took place irregularly, usually only on weekdays and without any overnight stays.

A court appointed guardian pointed out in her report in July 2009 that a "speedy regulation of contact visits between the child and the father is recommended", but it took the domestic court two years to issue an interim contact order. Subsequently, as of May 2011, it had become impossible to have any contact visits.

When the Mr Malec's former wife failed to comply with the court contact orders, the applicant began to file enforcement claims with the District Court. He filed over 50 such requests and they eventually resulted in the District Court ordering the mother to comply with the access arrangements and to the imposition of fines on two occasions, only one being collected by May 2013.  

The ECHR judgement states that: " ... a lack of cooperation between parents who have separated is not a circumstance which can of itself exempt the authorities from their positive obligations under Article 8. It rather imposes on the authorities an obligation to take measures that would reconcile the conflicting interests of the parties, keeping in mind the paramount interests of the child".

FNFS has raised this judgement with the Scottish Courts in connection with our concerns about delays both in the hearing of cases and the issuing judgements.

Wednesday
Jul062016

FNFS family picnic at Wellsfield Farm

We are holding an FNFS picnic for parents and children at Wellsfield Farm Park just outside Denny on Sunday 17th July.  This is the start of our celebrations of five years as a Scottish charity and it will also mark the launch of our Scottish FNFS supporters scheme.

This event is being held to bring people from the various Scottish FNF groups together to meet each other.  FNFS members and people who attend our meetings will get free entry to the park, thanks to support from Wellsfield Farm.  The farm park has a children's play area / adventure fun park suitable for children from 18 months to 16 years of age, and the majority of the attractions inside and outside the park are also suitable for adults and senior citizens.  The park is at Stirling Rd, Denny, Stirlingshire FK6 6QZ - open from 10am until 5.30pm.

Bring your own sandwiches or use their café, and we will have picnic tables reserved for FNFS people to meet up at lunchtime from 12.00am till 2.00pm, with wet weather options in the Fun Shack. There is no charge, but donations to support our work are always welcome.

To attend, fill in the form below and we will send out day tickets and further information.

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Wednesday
Jul062016

SLAB streamlining could speed up action on contact

From June 2016 the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) have introduced changes which are intended to "streamline" various parts of the financial support they offer.  Three are of particular interest in relation to legal action to regain contact with children.

SLAB are amending their approach to granting special urgency cover in cases where contact had previously been operating satisfactorily but the parent with care suddenly ends this contact for, on the face of it, no good reason. 

In those situations SLAB will now grant special urgency cover to allow an immediate court action to be raised to reduce the possibility of various delays to resuming contact, such as the need for a child welfare report, the need for several child welfare hearings and the need to introduce supervised or supported contact. 

SLAB comments that: "Long delays are not beneficial to the child or children who were previously enjoying contact with their non-resident parent and it could cost the public purse more."

Where contact was not operating just before the request for special urgency cover is made SLAB will continue to view this as a matter that can wait until the legal aid application is decided.

The second change relates to the availability of funding for supervised and supported contact to advice and assistance. SLAB have been meeting the costs of supervised and supported contact under civil legal aid since 2012. Since then the number of requests for funding has increased steadily. 

SLAB comments that: "... we want to encourage parties to resolve contact disputes without going to court.  Reducing conflict in relationship breakdowns where there are children involved and offering less contentious ways of settling such disputes will benefit the children involved."

The third change is making funds available for family therapy. The courts are increasingly referring cases to family therapy as a possible means of resolving difficult family disputes.  It can be used to resolve the tensions between parties rather than increasing this tension through the court process. 

SLAB now views family therapy as a useful option to try to resolve disputes between parties without excessive intervention by the court.   Where a request for funding for family therapy is made they will require to be given information about the issues to be considered by the family therapist,  clarification on the likely cost of the therapy and its duration and details of the potential prospects for successfully undertaking therapy.  

The other streamlining changes include removing the need for separate legal aid applications for each child and changes to stage reporting. 

FNF Scotland welcomes these changes as we know that long delays can often make it more difficult to resume contact.  We agree that providing early support through therapy could be a lot more cost effective than a drawn-out adversarial court process and we know that although such services are not yet available throughout Scotland there is now a steady build up in provision.

We would be very interested to hear from parents and family lawyers about how these new procedures are working and welcome any other suggestions about how legal aid could be made more effective.