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Research the impact of family breakdown on wellbeing

Dr. John Barry of University College London is working in association with Families Need Fathers to find out about the impact of family breakdown on wellbeing.

It is totally confidential and ethically approved, and the study will help to improve knowledge of what aspects of the breakdown cause the most stress e.g. family court hearings, child access etc. Whether you are a father or a mother, if you are still going through family separation and/or making arrangements for your children in family courts, through mediation or privately, then your participation would be welcome. The more people that take part the more persuasive the results will be.

The study will involve an online survey taking about 2 minutes to complete. It will be done several times over a year, so in total will take about one hour of your time over a 12 month period.

If you want to take part, please email Dr. Barry for further information,  who will provide you with a code to activate https://tinyurl.com/yagzh8ca.

FNF is not only supporting this research but sponsoring it financially. The results of this study will be published and form part of a programme of work we will be doing to help policymakers make informed decisions when reforming family justice and other related policies, so please support it and share this with friends to whom it may be relevant.

Families Need Fathers Scotland would encourage Scottish fathers to take part so that there is a sufficient number of responses to allow for production of Scottish results.  We are already very aware of the impact of stress on people who contact us, and are running stress management courses, training people as peer supporters and linking people to support each other online and in person.  The next stress management course in Edinburgh is on 31st January - further details and bookings here.


FNF Scotland finalists in Scottish Legal Awards

FNF Scotland: Both Parents Matter has been listed as a finalist in the Community Contribution category of the 2019 Scottish Legal Awards.

Our entry focuses on the network of pro bono solicitors we have built up over the years who give their time to attend our six monthly meetings across Scotland. Every meeting now has at least one solicitor in attendance to give general information about family law and procedures. Because of the growing numbers coming to our Edinburgh and Glasgow groups we often have two solicitors.

Ian Maxwell, FNF Scotland national manager, says, "We are delighted at being listed among the finalists. Even to get that far is recognition of the value of our efforts in creating a connection between volunteer solicitors and people who come to us who are feeling lost in the aftermath of family breakup or separation. 

We see it as an additional form of access to justice which simply did not exist in family law previusly.

The solicitors who attend tell us they also learn a great deal from what they hear at the groups we run monthly in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Striling, Paisley and Dundee. Most group attendees are separated fathers but we also support separated mothers, grandparents, new partners and wider family members. 

It looks like the Community Contribution category will be one of the most keenly contested in the Scottish Legal Awards. We wish all the finalists well."

The Awards will be announced at an event on Tursday 31st March in Glasgow.  FNF Scotland currently has more than 30 Scottish lawyers helping us at our group meetings and we would welcome any other family law solicitor who wishes to help us in this way - contact Ian Maxwell for more details.


Holiday arrangements for FNF Scotland

Photo by Chris Gilbert on UnsplashThe Edinburgh and Glasgow offices of Families Need Fathers Scotland will be closed between 21st December and 4th January inclusive, but members of staff will be available in turn during the entire festive period to take phone calls about urgent issues.  Ring 0131 557 2440 and your call will be forwarded to Ian, John or Alastair.

Our offices will re-open on Monday 7th January, and the first group meetings of 2019 will be held in Edinburgh on Monday 7th January and Paisley and Stirling on Tuesday 8th January.

A "taster" session of an Edinburgh parenting course for fathers from Parent Network will be held in Edinburgh on Wednesday 9th January.  It will run on Wednesday evenings for the following 9 weeks - contact Alastair Williamson for further details and bookings.

FNF Scotland will be holding a Stress Management course in Edinburgh on 31st January  - further details and bookings here.

We are also holding an afternoon event about Parenting Co-ordination for mediators, lawyers and other family support professionals on Tuesday 15th January - further details and bookings here.

The Scottish Government will publish their response to the Family Law consultation in Spring 2019 and a draft Family Law Bill in the middle of the year.  FNF Scotland will continue to promote ideas such as a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting and a move away from adversarial conflict in family courts.  Parents wishing to help by lobbying their MSPs on these points should contact John Forsyth to help with this work.

Families Need Fathers Scotland wishes a happy and constructive New Year to all the people who contact us and attend our groups and all the lawyers and other professionals who have worked with us in 2018.


Parenting Coordination: an opportunity for Scotland?

Families Need Fathers Scotland suggested a Scottish trial of Parenting Coordination in our response to the recent Scottish Government Family Law Consultation. 
We are holding an event for mediators, lawyers and other family support professionals in Edinburgh on 15th January at which Felicity Shedden from Family Law In Partnership will describe how they developed a model from the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and have been running training courses in England.  For further details and to book see here.
Parenting Coordination is an innovative child-centred intervention to support and guide parents in implementing their parenting agreements or court orders in medium and high-conflict cases.

The work involves skills from family law, mediation, mental health, parenting education, social work and child protection fields. Practitioners could come from any of these professions providing they have also trained in necessary components of the other skills.

During the current consideration of changes in family law and court procedure in Scotland, there is an opportunity to introduce concepts such as Parenting Coordination, which is now well- established in the United States, Canada and parts of South Africa. 

It could unify work currently carried out by a range of professionals and free the courts from some of the ongoing micro-management once an order has been made.  Parents and their children can benefit having immediately available support without returning to the adversarial court arena.


Christmas tips from FNF Scotland

As 25th December approaches, FNF Scotland appeals to both separated parents to take the opportunity presented by the spirit of Christmas to set aside their personal issues for the benefit of their children.
Christmas can be the loneliest time of the year for divorced or separated parents. It is the time they most want to see their children but it may not be their turn to have them for Christmas Day. For many, mainly non resident fathers and their extended family, it is never their turn.

Families Need Fathers Scotland is recommending eight survival tips suggested by attendees at monthly group meetings. They are meant for fathers – and non-resident mothers – as well as grandparents, aunts and uncles whose contact has been lost or reduced when the parents separated.

Ian Maxwell, FNF Scotland National Manager says, “We have calls and e mails every day at this time of year from non-resident parents in great distress because arrangements to see their kids at some point over Christmas have broken down or abruptly changed or have simply been refused. We appeal to both separated parents to take the opportunity presented by the spirit of Christmas to set aside their personal issues for the benefit of their children. If they do that it could be the platform for greater goodwill in the New Year.

Maree Todd, Scottish Government Minister for Children and Young People, says, “For separated parents Christmas can be a very challenging time when it comes to arranging and agreeing contact.  Our National Parenting Strategy recognises the importance of ensuring parents get the support they need to form and develop healthy positive bonds with their children.
I am delighted that Families Need Fathers Scotland, who worked with us on the development and implementation of the National Parenting Strategy, have created this useful and practical resource for parents. Building healthy relationships at Christmas will last a lifetime – that’s much more important than buying things”
The Survival Tips are:

  1. Remember to put the kids first. Even though you are missing them don’t put your distress ahead of their enjoyment. Encourage them to look forward to the next time they’re with you.
  2. Try and negotiate with your former partner at least a phone call with your children on Christmas  Day so they know you are thinking about them and sharing their excitement.
  3. Try and agree with your former partner that it’s fair for the children to have Christmas Day with  each of you on alternate years.
  4. If you do have them this year don’t go overboard on arrangements. Think ahead about what  they’ll enjoy rather than what’s expensive. It’s time together that counts in the long run.
  5. Don’t compete on presents with your former partner. Outspending will create friction especially if  money is short for both of you. When you have limited time with your children it’s often tempting to try and compensate by extravagant gestures. Don’t. Good cheer now may pay off in  the New Year.
  6. Keep in mind that your children will remember the time they have with you. Don’t worry that they     don’t give you a second thought when they’re not with you. That’s what kids are like.
  7. If you don’t have any contact with your kids at all, sit down and write them a letter. Even if you  never send it it’ll be your time with them this year.
  8. Don’t let yourself get miserable or lonely at home. Make sure you see friends or think about  volunteering with some of the organisations that look after others at Christmas.