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Shared parenting campaign gains support

Our push for changes to Scottish family law and improvemants in the working of family court system is gaining support from various sources. Following publication of our Shared Parenting report in Holyrood and Strasbourg last June we have started having meetings with MSPs and child and family organisations.

One of the first meetings was with Kate Forbes, the SNP MSP for Skye, Badenoch and Lochaber, following some help we gave to one of her constituents in a cross-UK border contact case.  Since her election to the Scottish Parliament last May she has already dealt with two child contact cases raised by her constituents, an indication of the incidence of such issues.

As well as talking about shared parenting, family law reform and cross border issues, we also discussed how FNF Scotland could try in future to provide more support to separated fathers in rural and island communities in Scotland, both by linking up people in similar situations and by arranging an annual meeting in places like Skye.

Following the meeting Kate commented: “It was helpful to meet with Families Need Fathers Scotland at the Scottish Parliament, and I applaud their resources for parents who are not living in the family home anymore, as well as their help for other family members affected by contact problems."

“I believe that more could be done to encourage the concept of shared parenting following family breakdown, rather than identifying a ‘resident’ parent and a ‘contact’ parent, and this is something FNFS are working towards.  I will be writing to Annabelle Ewing, the Scottish Government minister with responsibility for family law, to see if fresh guidance could improve outcomes for children and families in this particular area.”

If you are interested in contacting your own MSP we can provide briefing material - email John Forsyth for details or ring 0131 557 2440.


FNF survey of views on child support

Families Need Fathers is preparing a response to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee public inquiry into child maintenance and the workings of the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). Please help us by answering this survey to give us your views. To start the survey please use this link:

Recent changes include the closure of all cases on the previous child support schemes and the pressure for parents to make new direct payment agreements rather than use a government agency to collect maintenance.  The imposition of 20% charges on those paying maintenance through the government scheme and 4% taken off payments before they are passed on are not popular, but such charges can be avoided unless there is a history of payment problems.


FNF Scotland comment on Scottish Government legislative programme

The Scottish Government has presented its list of proposed bills for the coming session of the Scottish Parliament.

Ian Maxwell of Families Need Fathers Scotland said today:

"We are still looking for more information on how the Scottish Government intends to take forward the SNP manifesto commitment to a review of family law. It will be encouraging if its absence from this session's legislative programme is an indicator that it is taking a thoughtful approach to the issues rather than rushing into legislation that will be in place for a generation. Family law and the recognition of the value of both parents to their children is, as the Council of Europe asserted last year,  fundamentally an equalities issue.

We are also aware from the cases that come to us from non-resident parents - mothers as well as fathers - and grandparents that too often turning off and on contact with children has become a form of coercive control by the parent with most care. The legislation in England and Wales made it effectively impossible for a non-resident parent to invoke the protections of the coercive control domestic abuse law and we will make representations to the Scottish Government that our legislation should not contain that loophole.

But of course, our ambition for Scotland is to change the culture in family law that too often pays lip service to putting the interests of the children first while persisting with an adversarial system that does the opposite." 


Talking to your children about separation 

Scottish lawyer/mediator Scott Docherty has published an e-Book for parents: "How to talk to your kids about Separation", promoted by this attractive animation and available on Kindle for £3.12.

While admitting that he can't anticipate absolutely every likely question that children might raise, Scott's book covers a lot of very useful territory and should really help anyone facing this tricky issue.  He explains how in his work as a lawyer he prepares for making submissions by thinking through the situation in advance - a technique that could work just as well for a parent preparing for a tricky chat with a child.

The book covers a wide range of connected topics, such as dealing with separation anxiety and how mediation can help.  He points out that children aren't pawns to be squabbled over but vulnerable youngsters caught in a disturbing transition.  Their parents can do a lot to help them - or can make things much worse.

We await with interest his next publication: "How to talk to your ex after separation".


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