If you find this site useful, please donate to support our work
Subscribe

Get our latest news by email:

Search

Looking for something?

Facebook

Entries in non-resident fathers (4)

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.

 

Friday
Dec152017

Christmas survival tips if you're not seeing your kids

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. Here are some tips that attendees at our group meetings have suggested.

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.

Wednesday
Apr052017

Research participants wanted - housing needs of non-resident parents

Research into housing of parents with less than half of parenting time.

FNF in England has been asked to help find "non-resident" parents for a Cambridge University housing research project. Interviewees will receive a £20 voucher, and the research findings will be shared with FNF.

Only need 20 participants are needed, based anywhere in the UK, so if you are interested get in touch quickly as it will be first come first served.

Here's the official project description:

Can you help with a Cambridge University survey in return for a £20 Love2shop voucher? The university wants to speak to single parents, aged 35 or under, who live with their children less than half of the time. The researchers need to speak to parents who have their child to stay with them for at least one night a fortnight, or would if they had suitable accommodation. Participants must have children under 18 and must not be living with a partner to qualify. A researcher will call you to conduct a short telephone survey – that’s all you need to do. All of your answers would be confidential and data kept anonymous. If you can help with this research project, please get in touch on 01638 741830 or tania@spirusmarketing.com.

 

Monday
Feb152016

2006 Family Law Act ripe for reform

The Justice committee of the Scottish Parliament is conducting “post-legislative scrutiny” of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006. The committee describes it as one of the most important pieces of legislation on family law in recent years.

The committee invited a number of organisations - including FNF Scotland - and individuals with an experience of the Act to submit an overview on its effectiveness. Our submission.

The Act covered a range of issues including modernisation of the law as it affected cohabitees. However, FNF Scotland mainly comes up against problems with the Act in connection with sections 23 and 24.

Section 23 extended the possibility of securing Parental Rights and Responsibilities to unmarried fathers and section 24 amended the Children (Scotland) Act to make it a requirement for a judge to take into account allegations of domestic abuse – or the prospect of domestic abuse – when determining the best interests if the child.

FNF Scotland believes it is time for a review of both the Children (Scotland) Acts of 1995 and 2006. Our experience is that in the current climate they support contrived adversarial behaviour and airing of unfounded accusations aimed at controlling contact with a non-resident parent that damages children and both parents.

It is encouraging that several of the other submissions make essentially the same comment.

The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 was very much an act of its time but the reality of family life here has moved on from the rather restrictive view portrayed then. We have reviewed the debates in committee and the chamber at the time and it stands out that the tone was very much directed towards controlling family life of unmarried fathers rather than positively promoting it.  We believe the Act remains essentially discriminatory  - as flagged by the Scottish Law Commission a decade earlier - by building into statute that the status of separated fathers is largely contingent on the state of the relationship as perceived by the mother.

In our submission we say, “It is not a sign of good health for any piece of legislation that a perception of unfairness grows around it. There is such a feeling around the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 not only among non-resident parents - most of whom are fathers – but also among the grandparents, new partners and other family members who contact us.  It is a sense that has also been shared with us by members of the legal profession and, on occasion, by members of the bench.”

We believe there is ample evidence from many countries that children do better in all aspects of their life, attainment and wellbeing when both their parents are fully involved in their life and their parents have equal recognition from public services including schools and health providers.

The Justice Committee will take further evidence in its scrutiny exercise in due course. We will report developments here.  Full list of submissions