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Entries in shared parenting (58)

Tuesday
Dec112018

International Shared Parenting Conference

Over 200 delegates attended the fourth international conference on shared parenting in Strasbourg on 22nd-23rd November 2018.  The conference was held in the Council of Europe building and the opening session was addressed by Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

She said: “There is an apparent, growing consensus that, when possible, shared parenting should be supported as part of separation and divorce arrangements.”

Shared parenting aims to maintain positive relationships between children and their parents in high-conflict separations and empower parents to meet their parental responsibilities in an equal way, she stressed.

The concept extends the principle of gender equality and challenges the stereotype of the father as breadwinner and the mother as nurturing carer and homemaker, still deeply entrenched in many cultures and still playing a role in many custody agreements.

However, shared parenting should not become a goal in itself or a systematic resumption: there are cases when shared custody does not correspondent to the child’s best interests. The decision on whether shared parenting is the best solution must take into account the individual circumstances, such as situations of intra-family violence, as well as the child’s views and expressed position.

The president of the International Council of Shared Parenting (ICSP) Edward Kruk, Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of British Columbia, stated that this conference marks the watershed in shared parenting, it is now established as a norm.  Those who oppose shared parenting have to prove why it should not take place.

Regina Jensdottir, Head of the Children´s Rights Division of the Council of Europe also mentioned moving on from gender stereotypes.  Both men and women have the right to balance work and parenting, shared parenting is a way forward for this. Efficient and fast moving justice systems are very important if cases have to go to court and non-compliance with court orders is a serious issue.

Amongst the many contributions to the ICSP conference two judicial presentations stood out. Marie-France Carlier, a judge at the Namur Family Court in Belgium described how family courts have developed since the Belgian law was changed in 2006 to a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting.  There is principle of one family, one file and one judge with speedy procedures - 15 days to consider decisions.

She noted that the judge has to conciliate. Their first task is to reconcile people. They have to prioritise shared parenting but are free to decide otherwise.  The person who doesn't want shared parenting has to provide reasons such as distance, very young children or child protection.  Equal shared residence has been ordered in 50% of cases in Liege and 48% in Anvers. Priority actions include reducing the hurtfulness of words in court papers, meeting strict time deadlines, keeping children in touch with what is happening, the use of mediation and consensus, preventing alienation from becoming embedded. 

Jürgen Rudolph described how he is spreading the word in various countries about the Cochem system that he developed as a family judge in Germany.  This involves linking the work of all the professionals around the court: judges, lawyers, psychologists youth workers and social workers. 

The goal is to get the parents to "look in the eyes of their children and get them talking again. Early intervention is vital. The lawyer bringing the case is only allowed to submit one page to the court and the other side is not allowed to write anything.  Rather than having lots of paper the professionals have to speak with the parents and children. Court hearings should take place within one or two weeks.  The court can put pressure on the parents to go on a journey and see the situation through the eyes of the child. 

Families Need Fathers Scotland hopes to invite judges Carlier and Rudolph to speak in Scotland in 2019 as a contribution to the discussion of changes in Scottish family law and court procedures.  Their hand's on experience of how radically different systems can bring major benefits for both families and courts should make a valuable contribution to this discussion.

Ian Maxwell from FNFS brought this Scottish debate to the attention of delegates in a workshop session describing how we are "Still Beating the Drum For Shared Parenting".  

Friday
Nov022018

Shared Parenting: Benefits and Barriers

Professor Tommy MacKay gave a presentation at the 2018 FNFS AGM on Shared Parenting: Benefits and Barriers.

Wednesday
Oct102018

AGM & Talk: Shared Parenting - benefits and barriers

The 2018 AGM of Families Need Fathers Scotland will be on the evening of Wednesday 31st October in Robertson House, 152 Bath Street, Glasgow.

Following the AGM we will have a talk by Professor Tommy MacKay about benefits and barriers to shared parenting.  Tickets for the event can be booked using this link.

professor MacKayProfessor Tommy MacKay will give an overview of current psychological research relating to contact and residence, focussing particularly on the benefits of shared parenting and some of the problems which are raised when shared parenting is proposed. 

Professor MacKay has worked extensively as a psychologist in a broad range of family law cases including contact and residence actions.  His 2014 publication "False Allegations of child abuse in contested family law cases" considered the high frequency of allegations of child physical or sexual abuse in cases of this kind, with a particular focus on false allegations.

Amongst the court cases in which he has given expert evidence is AH against CH (2016 CSOH 152).  In that judgement he stated that "evidence shows that children that do not have contact with both parents have, as a group, a greater propensity to experience difficulties academically, psychologically, emotionally and in future relationships in later life."  This supported the resumption of a father's contact with his son in spite of that child's resistance because of maternal influence.

Professor Tommy MacKay is Director of Psychology Consultancy Services, Co-Founder of the National Centre for Autism Studies at the University of Strathclyde, Clinical Director of the National Diagnosis and Assessment Service for Autistic Spectrum Disorders, a past President of the British Psychological Society, an Academician of the Academy for the Social Sciences and a Chartered Scientist. He works widely across several fields of psychology, having chartered or equivalent status in educational psychology, health psychology, clinical neuropsychology, psychotherapy and teaching and research in psychology.

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

Thursday
Jan182018

Shared parenting success in Arizona

Dr William Fabricius describes the success of Arizona's 2012 shared parenting legislation in a recent article which notes that:

The new statute was carefully worded to promote equal parenting time while still requiring judges to weigh the traditional children’s best interest factors, such as parental mental health, that might disqualify either parent. We removed the traditional factor that gave preference to the parent who had provided primary caretaking in the past, and added a new one stating that “absent evidence to the contrary, it is in a child’s best interest to have substantial, frequent, meaningful and continuing parenting time with both parents.”

The statute states that “consistent with children’s best interests, the court shall adopt a parenting plan that maximizes the parents’ respective parenting time.”

By not giving any target numbers, the law puts the focus on providing the child with as close to equal parenting time with both parents as possible for that family.

His research showed support from judges, court staff, lawyers and mental health providers for the new measures.  His conclusion: "Arizonans have found that there doesn’t have to be a trade-off between equal parenting time and judicial discretion when courts are directed to try to maximize children’s time with both parents."