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Tuesday
May152018

Review of Scottish family law launched

The Scottish Government has launched a public consultation on the Review of Part 1 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and related matters.

FNF Scotland has been pressing for such a review to address the spectrum of issues that arise at our monthly meetings or are raised by individuals who get in contact. We will make our overall submission to the review settng out the direction we would like the reform of family law to take. 

In the coming weeks we will publish on this website our position on specific issues such as alternatives to the present adversarial basis of child contact/residence actions, alternatives to court, enforcement of orders and reliable approaches to securing the views of children involved.

The civil servants who are conducting the consultation will be coming to several FNF group meetings in the next few weeks to get insight into the personal, financial and relationship costs of the current approach to maintaining a meaningful parenting relationship for both parents after separation. We will also have a separate evening meeting in Glasgow on June 27th to discuss the consultation - use this link to book tickets.

FNF Scotland National Manager, Ian Maxwell, says, "We have been pressing the case for a comprehensive review for several years. The moment has come and we look forward to an overhaul of Scottish family law that will bring the legislation in line with life as it is lived in modern Scotland."

"We believe a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting after separation will help the individuals involved draw up arrangements that genuinely put the interests of their children first. There are too many incentives in the 'winner takes all' approach of the current system that promote character attacks on each parent by the other which damage relationships long after their court case is over and the sheriff has gone home. "

The consultation is available at the link below:
 
There is also a series of child friendly questions which are available at:
Wednesday
Apr252018

International Parental Alienation Awareness Day

This poster has been produced to mark this date by organisations from a wide range of countries - from Argentina to Iceland.  Click on the thumbnail image to see them all.

This joint action shows that there is growing understanding of Parental Alienation (PA) and what can be done to counter it, but there is still a long way to go. 

In Scotland we need more family therapists and child psychologists to be prepared and trained work with the children and parents affected by PA and other aspects of children resisting contact, and also far wider understanding amongst social workers, teachers, health professionals and family lawyers and sheriffs. 

The aim would be to provide appropriate support to families as soon as possible, and for the court system to act swiftly and firmly when contact is interrupted.  The imminent consultation on family law reform in Scotland will be an opportunity to consider this issue, but we don't need to wait for law reform to bring about changes which will prevent children from losing contact with one of their parents.

Families Need Fathers Scotland will continue to raise this issue whenever possible and help build up awareness in Scotland.  Here are links to posts from Richard Warshak and Nick Child that also mark PA Awareness Day.

Monday
Apr022018

Data desert reinforces prejudice over the role of fathers as parents

Creative Commons on PixabayWords matter.

 

They can release our thinking or they can trap it.

The term non-resident parent was introduced into family law to get rid of the terms “custody” and “access” more than 20 years ago. Referring to the allocation of parenting time with their children between separated parents the new terms “resident” and “non-resident” parent were felt to be less censorious and judgemental and carry less implication that one parent was more important than the other. The emphasis, at least in the cases that end up in court, was intended to move towards joint parental responsibilities and the search for arrangements that would allow both parents to fulfil their responsibilities to their children.

But in reality old assumptions quickly came to infect the “resident” and “non-resident” alternatives.

Separated parents quickly learned that “resident” carries more status in the eyes of friends and family, GP practice managers, schools and social workers than “non-resident”.

Even though at FNF Scotland we dislike the term intensely we end up using it every day. Fathers – and mothers – who come to us for help starting thinking of themselves as “non-resident parents” instead of just parents. They often themselves underestimate the contribution they can continue to make in the lives of their children.

Partly that is because of the advice they get when they go to a solicitor when they can’t reach agreement with their former partner that reflects the amount and quality of parenting time they had with their children before separation. The solicitor will know which sheriffs regard every other weekend as more than enough and who will not take kindly to a dad whom asks for more.

That’s why the recent Fatherhood Institute research is so important. A data desert leads to a policy and practice desert.

 If fathers – separated or not – disappear out of the data then they and their parenting become invisible and easy to dismiss, diminish and disparage. And the minimalist prejudices can be confirmed.

Policy makers, judges and legislators alike should rise to the challenge of recognising the realities of parenting in modern Scotland. There is something wrong when a single term “non-resident parent”  covers one parent who has his children with him up to 3 or 4 nights a week; another who see them every day but can’t take them overnight – housing benefit for younger fathers ignores their parenting responsibilities by insisting they share with other unrelated adults; and another who has his kids every other weekend because he was told not to ask for more; another who doesn’t see them at all.

It’s not only a father’s issue. If the data is inaccurate for fathers it is also inaccurate for mothers. Above all, it’s a children’s issue. Research from around the world shows that children do better in most areas of their lives with the involvement of both parents.

*This article was published in The Herald on 15 March 2018.  It is the first in a series of articles that Families Need Fathers Scotland will publish on this web site setting out our views on family law reform in connection with the consultation that is being carried out by Scottish Government.

 

Monday
Mar122018

Talk by Sue Whitcombe and Pat Barclay

FNF Scotland is holding an evening meeting on Thursday 22nd March about working with parents to overcome their children's resistance to contact.  It takes place at 10 Palmerston Place from 7-9 pm and tickets can be booked using this link.

This session is a chance to hear from two key people who have been undertaking a lot of work with separated families in recent years across Great Britain.  Following presentations about their current experience and what seems to be working, we will have a general discussion about the way forward for parents trying to deal with resistance to contact or outright rejection.

Dr SUE WHITCOMBE is a Counselling Psychologist registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. She is a Chartered member and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, Chair of the Training Committee for Counselling Psychology and sits on the BPS Expert Witness Advisory Group and Children and Young People Mental Health Group.
Sue has 20 years’ experience working with children and families and is Principal Psychologist at Family Psychology Solutions, a not-for-profit social enterprise, which she founded with the support of Teesside University.

PAT BARCLAY has considerable experience working with separated families to reduce and protect children from the adverse effects of their parent’s acrimony, with experience of both collaborative separation and litigation through court. Her social work qualifications, knowledge and experience of child development and child protection procedures allows her to provide a specialist service in Scotland of child focused work for family separation.
Her work aims are to protect children caught up in contact disputes and promote contact in the best interest of their welfare and developmental stage. She also has experience of relationship counselling and systemic family counselling to combine with specialist, evidence based knowledge of children’s development and the risk to this from parental conflict.

Tuesday
Feb202018

Shared parenting outcomes independent of family income or parental conflict

Dr Linda NielsenA roundup of 60 research studies published by Linda Nielsen shows that joint physical custody (shared parenting) is linked to better outcomes for children on all the measures of behavioural, emotional, physical and academic wellbeing, compare with sole physical custody.

This meta-analysis published in the Journal of Child Custody considers results from studies published in English which had statistically analysed quantitative data that considered outcomes for children in shared or sole parental care after considering both family income and parental conflict.  These factors are sometimes considered to affect the likelihood of successful shared care, but Nielsen's analysis showed that shared parenting is generally linked to better outcomes independent of either factor.

This does not mean that children do not benefit in any way from living in higher income households or experiencing low levels of conflict between their parents, but better outcomes can occur even in low income or conflicted situations.  Given this, it is suggested that the quality of the children's relationships with their parents, step-parents and grandparents are more important indicators of wellbeing.