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Entries in Scottish courts (6)

Thursday
May242018

Napier University student’s ‘Time for Change’ animation captures the case for overhaul of Scottish family law.

An Edinburgh Napier University student has created an animation on the feelings of loss experienced by separated fathers struggling to maintain an meaningful parenting relationship with their children as his final year honours BSC Digital Media project.

Lewis Rickard, a 22 year old student from Falkirk, created the infographic combining the words of a poem* by award winning author, Louis de Bernières, with data on the work of FNF Scotland to find out how far animation might be an effective platform for sharing key concepts for non profit organisations.

You can view the animation here:  https://tinyurl.com/TFC-FNFS

Lewis  has been studying Digital Media at Napier for the last two years following on from his  HND in Digital Media at City of Glasgow College in the two preceding years..

Lewis says, "The issue of parental rights has been close to my heart for many years.  I have watched my brother fight tirelessly through the courts to secure a relationship with his son. It has been very slow and very expensive. Most people who don't have first hand knowledge of the process through someone close to them don't appreciate how painful it is. This gave me inspiration to create an animation that could be understood easily by both separated parents, and also by children.

I contacted FNF last year and attended one of their group meetings so I could gain an understanding of what other dads and mothers were going through in terms of not being able to see their children – either not seeing them at all or restricted to every other weekend effectively as a visitor, not a parent.  This was a great experience for me and allowed me to get a deeper insight into how the charity works. It also gave me the chance to ask questions to the parents so I could try to understand what each person is going through.

FNF have been excellent in helping me create the animation. They have given me lots of information that I simply wouldn’t have been able to get if I was creating the animation by myself. Their help has been incredible and I feel that the animation has benefitted from the help I received from them."

Ian Maxwell, national manager of FNF Scotland, says, " We are very impressed by the animation Lewis has created. There is a Scottish Government consultation underway at the moment on reforming the law on making arrangements for the involvement of parents with their children after separation. This is a 'once in a generation' opportunity to persuade the government to bring in a system that doesn't set parents against each other but steers them towards putting their children first. We need to win hearts among the public as well as minds and Lewis's animation brilliantly captures the feelings of loss and helplessness many separated parents feel. We are very grateful to him for thinking of us."

After graduation Lewis hopes to get a job in the creative industries, such as graphic design or motion design. Lewis says, "I have just began to apply for jobs so hopefully this project will help me on the road and also help FNF Scotland connect with a wider audience. Thanks for watching."

* The Deserted men (Every Other Weekend) by Louis de Bernières

Wednesday
Jan102018

FNF Scotland to launch group in Dundee

 

The group will establish a regular meeting place for parents (fathers or mothers) who are having difficulty  securing stable and consistent arrangements for time with their children after separation or even if they have never lived together. The aim of the monthly meeting is to provide advice and information about the problems they may be experiencing but will also be an opportunity for mutual support and positive encouragement in particular to dads that they have a lot to offer as parents. Around 90% of non-resident parents are fathers.

Ian Maxwell, FNF Scotland National Manager, says, “We are grateful to the Corra Foundation which has provided the funding to start a group covering Dundee, Angus, North Fife and tayside. Some fathers - and grandparents and other family members - have travelled from the area to come to meetings in Edinburgh, Stirling and Aberdeen. We take regular telephone enquiries individuals in Dundee and Tayside so it makes sense to establish a branch here where they can meet and share good parenting advice as well as help each other navigate through problems."

It is mostly but not exclusively dads who attend group meetings. Around 90% of non-resident parents are fathers. However, we also see mothers and members of the extended family like uncles, aunts and grandparents and new partners who can all be deeply equally affected when parents split.

Ian Maxwell says, “There is a wealth of research that shows children do best when there is a stable, loving and reliable relationship with both parents after they have separated. Our aim is to give support to the non-resident parent and his or her family in the effort to make sure the welfare of the children is at the heart of the arrangements they make. It is usually to everyone’s benefit if they can agree a way forward rather than head for the courts though there are many difficult situations when the parent with care refuses to co-operate and the case does end up in court. Our branch members provide emotional and practical support there too.”

The Dundee group will be FNF Scotland's 6th group. There are active groups in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling and Paisley as well as a monthly skype group for those further afield.

For further information about the Dundee meetings e mail info@fnfscotland.org.

 

Monday
Oct102016

‘Lay Assistant’ free training course to run in Edinburgh in November.

Families Need Fathers Scotland is recruiting for a ‘lay assistant’ free training course to run in Edinburgh in November.

As the number of party litigants appears to be increasing steadily in family law actions FNF Scotland has been aware of the importance of the support and steadying influence a lay assistant can have both in court and before court in keeping focus on the important issues at hand.

FNF Scotland National Manager, Ian Maxwell, says, “We ran a successful pilot course in Glasgow last month, introducing prospective lay assistant volunteers to the role they can play and the support they can give. We are clear that they’re not surrogate solicitors and aren’t there to give legal advice. But they are there to assist the party litigant - and the court - by taking notes of what is said during proceedings and keeping track of any documents that may be referred to during a child welfare hearing or, more crucially, during a proof.

There has been more use of lay assistants in other areas of civil litigation such as debt or housing but we have noticed the increased number of people who are opting to represent themselves in contact and residence cases. They do for a variety of reasons but the main one is that they find their earnings are just above the SLAB threshold but aren't enough to cope with legal fees that can quickly turn into thousands.”

Depending on demand the course will run over two sessions in mid November and includes presentations by FNF Scotland staff and family law solicitors, video simulations and role play. The training is free, funded by the Scottish Government's Volunteering Support Fund. Further courses will be run in Aberdeen and Stirling in early 2017.

Ian Maxwell says, “Our overall aim is a review of family law to reduce the adversarial nature of resolving arrangements for parenting of children after separation. We always advise negotiation or mediation rather than litigation. In the meantime we can’t ignore the rising number of party litigants and this training is aimed at helping them present their case as efficiently and effectively as possible in the interests not only of the court but in the interests of the children involved.

Anyone interest in signing up for the training should contact Alastair Williamson or ring 0131 557 2440.

Tuesday
Dec082015

Petitions Committee to raise fitness of family law with Scottish Government

The Scottish Parliament Public Petitions committee this morning undertook to write to the Scottish Government for its view on whether it is time to look seriously at a review of Scottish family law. 

The committee had taken evidence on his petition http://tinyurl.com/jkb8227 by Stewart Currie that had called for an independent review on a range of issues where he felt the procedures within family law for agreeing contact/residence arrangements for children when their parents no longer live together are unsatisfactory or contradictory and often work against the stated objective of making the child's interests paramount.

FNF Scotland had written to the committee http://tinyurl.com/je7p2s6   in support of Mr Currie's petition but also drawing to its attention the number of petitions in the same area that had been lodged during the current parliament since the 2011 Holyrood election.

Video http://tinyurl.com/jctuv48 of the committee discussion on the issue can be seen here, beginning at 45'00".

In the discussion after Mr Currie's evidence committee member, Hanzala Malik, said, "Children shouldn't have to suffer the indignity of being separated from one parent or another unless things are proven in court. Accusations come fast and furious - quite outrageous accusations. I agree with the petitioner and petitioners who have come to us. And if the petitioners are happy we can perhaps put them all together so we can ask the government to look at this more seriously."

Committee convener, Michael McMahon, said, "We do have to look at all these in the round ... We are building up a picture here of areas in which we would like to see the government answering in terms of family law."

Kenny MacAskill, former Justice Secretary, agreed. He said, "I do think we are at a juncture where we've moved on considerably from previous investigations both in parliament and in legislative change. We now have a change to the court system. We have changes to appointments and specialisations on the shrieval bench. We have pressure upon the legal aid board. ... I do think we're at a juncture where the government should be seeking to bring it all together rather than looking at any one bit individually. This is the time. The government should be asked to bring the current changes together and consider where we go."

FNF Scotland national manager, Ian Maxwell, said, "This is a very encouraging development. In our response to the committee on Mr Currie's petition we set out our view that Scotland's children and families will benefit from a broader change in prevailing culture that looks for the positives in parenting after separation. This is far better for children than the current adversarial approach by which one parent's time with his/her children is “won” at the expense of inflicting damage on the other.

It is a tribute to the perserverance of all the petitioners in recent years that the message is getting home that the law has been overtaken by social and economic changes within families in Scotland and by government policy which now recognises more clearly the obligations of both parents to promote the wellbeing of their children and also their children's right to family life."

 

 

Thursday
Aug132015

Non-harassment order ruled not to affect child contact

A father convicted of threatening or abusive behaviour (breach of the peace)  in connection with a contact dispute has been successful in appealing against a related non-harassment order which would have prevented him making any contact with his three children.

In the appeal judgement, delivered by Lord Brodie, it was concluded that as the children in this family were not the victims for which the non-harassment order was made, the original Sheriff was wrong in making an order that would prevent contact with them. Lady Clark in her summing up said "at no point in these proceedings has the best interests of the children been properly examined" although this comment wasn't included in the published judgement.

This decision is significant because it makes it less likely that non-harassment orders will be made in such a way as to stop all contact of a parent with children.