[Bulgaria] Father protest monday morning September 29, 2014 (at 9:30 hours) in Sofia at the Bulgarian Supreme Judicial Council building (at Ul. Exarch Joseph 12) :: Hungerstrike by Bulgarian father Sevdalin Chandarov against unjustified and discriminative Bulgarian court custody order for his daughter Jasmina

Bulgaria, Press Release Association “Childhood And Dad”
Phone: 088 8604515
Contact Person: Pancho Malezanov Chairman of the association “Childhood and dad
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The Bulgarian association “Childhood and daddy” calls on all responsible parents who are not indifferent to their rights issue of our children to stand with posters in hands on September 29 at 9:30 am. Before the Supreme Judicial Council of Bulgaria at the following address: Exarch Joseph 12 in Sofia, Bulgaria < Bulgarian website of the Supreme Judicial Council of Bulgaria: http://www.vss.justice.bg

- TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN! Because we take the fruits of our fathers unreasonable judgments and grotesque behavior of social workers. This horror is happening today in the twenty-first century version reminiscent blood tax associated with the darkest events from the time of Turkish occupation and slavery.

Come to this public event with father Sevdalin Chandarov of the Bulgarian city of Nedelino who appears emanation of total denial of his paternity and discrimination against men as good parents. There is neglect, marginalization and humiliation of the father of little Jasmina, who for the past five years was the caring parent and only important factor for the normal psychophysiological and full development of his child; but as a typical demonstration of arrogant, reckless and unsanctioned by the legal authorities father keeping SAM wonderful my child, who is now being excluded from his daughter and crushed – all at the cost of the devastation of the present and future of his own daughter. The girl was given to the mother to live in Calarasi, Romania – without evaluating and taking into account the best interest of the child who grew up and is grounded in Bulgaria, has her friends, familyand school in Bulgaria and is fully accustomed to the Bulgarian living conditions. of development. A cultural shock awaits Jasmina – totally detached from the environment to which she is accustomed, the trusted circle of relatives and friends, school … while she does not understand or speak the Romanian language. The life of a Bulgarian child will be overturned as a result of negligent, discriminatory and anti-Bulgarian judgment. In this severe demographic situation, the Bulgarian court propels our children abroad. And the case is not an isolated one or unique. Also another father suffers after a court ruling allowing the mother to take their child of three months into the Republic of Belarus – and is not returned within the specified period. Who is responsible for these irresponsible judgments? Who benefits from them? Who now will return the child to its home country?

Moving on to active action! On September 29th at 9:30 pm we will stand together in front of the Bulgarian Supreme Judicial Council address: Ul. Exarch Joseph 12, Sofia
with posters in hands – TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN!

Pancho Malezanov: 27 september 2014

Bulgarian language Press Release:

Съобщение за медиите
Сдружение „Детство И с тати“

Телефон: 088 8604515

Лице за контакт:

Панчо Малезанов-председател на сдружение ‘Детство и с тати

Сдружение „Детство и с тати” призовава всички отговорни родители, на които не им е безразлична темата за правата на децата ни да застанем с плакати в ръце, на 29 септември в 9:30 ч. пред администрацията на Висшия съдебен съвет на адрес: Ул. Екзарх Йосиф 12

- В ЗАЩИТА НА НАШИТЕ ДЕЦА! Защото рожбите ни се отнемат от нас бащите им с необосновани съдебни решения, и с гротескно поведение на социални служители. Този ужас се случва днес, през ХХІ век във вариант, напомнящ кръвният данък, свързван с най-мрачните събития от времето на туркото робство.

Добилият популярност случай с татко Севдалин от Неделино се явява еманация на тоталното отричане на бащинството у нас и дискриминирането на мъжа като пълноценен родител. Налице е неглижиране, маргинализиране и унизяване на таткото на малката Жасмина, като единствен важен фактор(през изминалите пет години) за нормалното и пълноценно психофизиологично развитие на детето си; типична демонстрация на надменно, безотговорно и несанкционирано отношение на съдебни власти към баща, отглеждащ САМ прекрасно рожбата си, който сега е смачкан – с цената на опустошаването на настоящето и бъдещето на собствената му дъщеря. Момиченцето е присъдено на майката, за да живее в Кълъраш, Румъния – без прогноза и оценка за развитието му. Не са взети под внимание битовите условия там, културният шок, който очаква Жасмина – тотално откъсната от средата, с която е привикнала, доверения кръг от роднини, близки, приятелки, училище…, а тя не разбира румънски език. Животът на едно българче ще бъде преобърнат в резултат на нехайно, дискриминационно и анти-българско съдебно решение. В настоящата тежка демографска ситуация, българският съд прокужда наши деца в чужбина. Случаят не е изолиран, нито единствен. Друг татко (от Чирпан) страда след решение на съда, допуснал майката да изведе детето им за три месеца в Беларус – и не е върнато в определения срок. Кой носи отговорност за тези безотговорни съдебни решения? Кой се възползва от тях? Кой сега ще върне детето в Родината?

Преминаваме към активни действия! На 29-ти септември в 9:30 ч ще застанем заедно пред администрацията на Висшия съдебен съвет на адрес: Ул. Екзарх Йосиф 12

с плакати в ръце – В ЗАЩИТА НА НАШИТЕ ДЕЦА!

Interview with Bulgarian father Sevdalin Chandarov on Bulgarian TV Channel 3 on 19 september 2014 (from 12:40 -32:20 min. onwards)
▶ Студио 3 (следобед) – 19.09.2014 Част 4
Source: YouTube – Канал 3 TV – 19.09.2014


Bulgarian father starves himself to death in hungerstrike until Bulgarian court changes unfair custody-change order
Bulgaria – 24chasa.bg – Share – 9/16/2014 09:59; 24 hours online; 1231; 1;
http://www.24chasa.bg/Article.asp?ArticleId=4309178

Photo: Archive – A father of the Bulgarian city of Nedelino, who cared five years alone for his daughter, began a hunger strike in protest against a decision of Kardzhali district court – information from Darik.

Magistrates awarded the custody of the child to the former wive, who is a Romanian citizen, of Sevdalin Chandarov.

Daughter Jasmina barely knows her mother. Two-thirds of the child’s life have gone by with her father. For five years during her stay with her father she heard her mother only on the phone and then only rarely.

5 years ago the mother of Jasmina – Romanian citizen Veronica Petcu, moved to Spain just as the two-year-old daughter was admitted to the hospital.

A year and a half later, the young woman suddenly wanted a divorce from her Bulgarian husband and ceased all contact with her daughter, said bTV.

Now the mother of seven-year old Jasmina suddenly gets awarded custody while this has previously been awarded to the father by the Zlatograd District Court. Following the decision of Kardzhalimen magistrates Sevdalin Chandarov began a hunger strike. Jasmine’s father casts heavy doubt on the fairness of the judicial system.

According to social workers Jasmina is very fond of her father and was estranged from her mother caused by her voluntary absence from the child’s life. The devastated father intends to declare indefinite civil disobedience in front of the Supreme Judicial Council in the capital.


Father began a hunger strike after he took the child – I tried to bribe the judge with potatoes, beef and yogurt
Blitz News – Kardzhali, Bulgaria – Posted 11 September. 2014, 12:10 | Updated: Sept 11. 2014, 12:10
http://www.blitz.bg/news/article/289813

Photos: 2

The man decided to starve because paternity case. Magistrates granted custody of 8-year-old daughter Jasmine to her mother – Andrina Veroniku. Romanian citizen living in the town of Calarasi and in the words of the mountaineers after divorce never came to see the child. “Even when I won the case in Zlatograd District Court, she had the right to visit Zhasi, take her for a month, but not once did, reports 24rodopi.com. Only time and pay child support in the amount of 100 lev. At other times constantly bothered me for money sending SMS-es. The child knows her. The last time I saw a case in Kardzhali and immediately hid behind me. When I heard the decision of the court, raised blood pressure. They took me to the Emergency in Nedelino where I participated systems. Nothing said the child, but most likely it is understood. Will starve two days outside the courthouse in Kardzhali. On Monday I will send Zhasi school and go on Tuesday in Sofia, where he will protest to the Supreme Judicial Council. Received assurance from other fathers who will come to support me. Will appeal to the Supreme Court, “said Chandarov.

While talking, his phone rings, it turns out his daughter. “Daddy, grandma ate meat. Listen to her to know you when you come back? “Asked the child trembling Sevdalin.

“The child is learning excellent. It does not speak a word of Romanian. How will you live there? We found out that my ex-wife lives with another man, who has three children. According to the information at my disposal Andrina wait another child. All the expertise of social workers are in my favor. Even in the courtroom could not bring a bus witnesses to confirm how to care for the child. In the course of my case said that there was no problem Zhasi was small, can adapt and learn Romanian “said Sevdalin.

“I am sure that magistrates in Kardzhali know those from Smolyan. After my initial protests, they now give it back by supporting the decision of the District Court in Smolyan. I wanted to try one of the magistrates, who led one of the cases in Kardzhali. I took the parents of Judge potatoes, beef and yogurt. They received them. I wanted to see if they can succumb to bribes. I just wanted to have fair play, “reveals Sevdalin. / Turbo


Sevdalin Chandarov fights for his daughter. Its class: She is painfully fond of him
Bulgaria – 24chasa.bg – 14/2/2014
http://www.24chasa.bg/Article.asp?ArticleId=3261913

Photo: BTV – Sevdalin Chandarov e devoted father who himself has raised his child and who was on the brink of despair because of inability to fight for custody of 6-year-old daughter.

Days ago Zlatograd District Court awarded custody of Sevdalin Chandarov. His story is about to become a legal precedent, said bTV.

Objectives 4 years Sevdalin caregivers alone. His wife Veronica Petcu left him and went abroad. A few months ago the court give her custody. According to the child’s personal physician and psychologist 6-year-old Jasmine is very fond of her father.

“Failure have several meetings with the child, which shows that she does not wish to meet with the mother. In my questions: “What is the reason?” – “Well, it speaks for gifts …” Strong affection manifested by the relatives of his father. And I can tell – painful affection for his father, just for talking, “says psychologist R. Stoyanova from the Social Support Centre in the town of Nedelino.

“Well, yes, the child was with bilateral pneumonia. Then the father went to the ward to treat the child. Mother went to Spain. She never made a call to ask how the child, okay, sturdy, you sick, you care for her, feed her, bathe her, things like that, “explained the GP of Jasmine nedelino Dr. Milka Lubomirova.

A few days ago new circumstances completely upended the custody case. District Court ordered Zlatograd 6-year-old Jasmine to stay in Bulgaria with her father. The reason is the drastic differences between the claims of the mother and inspection of social services in the Romanian town Calarasi.

“From there, it was confirmed that the mother had lied, that is located in the Republic of Romania and had gone with a contract to work in Spain,” added the father of Jasmine Sevdalin Chandarov.

According to the social report of the Romanian social services seven-member family of Veronica Petcu live in apartment, not in the bedroom, as it claims. “One bedroom apartment, home to the mother and father of my ex-wife, her two sisters and their spouses and one of their grandchild,” added the father.

News of stay of Jasmine in Nedelino met with joy and relief in the few Muslim town. Most are excited Jasmina her dad. “I love my dad and I do not want nobody, ‘the girl.

“We are very excited and happy developments for the benefit of our fellow citizen because our joy comes from the fact that though he is the father … And rarely fathers go to protect their children – show such concern for the child who is also an example for others in our city, “said Rumen Chafadarov sagrazhdaninat them.

“I am happy because for the first time in Bulgaria is going to win a case, and it father! Glad you stuck in Bulgaria Bulgarian child to learn and develop. I am proud that the child remains in my class because she is doing great things to be doing in school, “said the head of the class and Jasmine R. Karaivanova.

A case can be appealed to the Smolyan District Court. Albeit temporary, victory Sevdalin Chandarov gives hope to many Bulgarian fathers, they will not be discriminated against by Bulgarian courts by gender.

More:
Court sent the girl to her mother, who gave him before 4 godiniBashta ready to indefinite hunger strike to preserve their parental pravaBashta began a hunger strike in Smolyan Romanian take his child


Father is ready for indefinite hunger strike to preserve their parental rights
Bulgaria – 24chasa.bg – Share 16/09/2013 9:41; 24 hours online; 2088; 0;

http://www.24chasa.bg/Article.asp?ArticleId=2300900

Sevdalin and Jasmine Photo: A scene from the story of bTV

Man raising his daughter alone four years, until one day he received a letter from the child’s mother, in which she claimed the custody, said bTV. Sevdalin Chandarov ready to declare an indefinite hunger strike to retain the right to see and care for 6-year-old Jasmine.

This is not the first hunger strike, her father. See the story HERE.

“The father is very caring. Just some mothers can learn from it, “says Dr. Milka Lubomirova, doctor of Jasmine in the city Nedelino. Girl barely knew her mother, who worked for years in Spain. She even does not know that she is likely be sent to his mother, who is a Romanian citizen.

Sevdalin Chandarov and Adriana Petcu-Veronica are introduced 8 years ago in Spain, where both are gurbet. After a year and a half Sevdalin returns home to Nedelino. Adriana, Veronica decides to follow him and they married, in Bulgaria. In 2007, Jasmine was born. 2009, however, is detrimental to the family, because Adriana, Veronica wants to return to Spain.

“Basically here from the city, many women work in Spain and a friend of hers curl to go there, said it was very nice there – to work on a seasonal strawberries. I was strongly against, “said the man. First year mother sent money to her family in Bulgaria, but after the second year her behavior changed dramatically.

“From now estranged. Feelings were strange. As I started to kiss her, she pulled my hands, “recalls Sevdalin. Husband so suddenly receives divorce papers. Several months later Sevdalin understands that its long half life partner with a fellow in Spain.

“For two years Adriana never called to ask how her daughter was doing in Nedelino” says Sevdalin more.

Two instances of the Bulgarian court refuses to listen to the arguments of the social workers and the GP of Jasmina whereby Sevdalin perfect parent, and judge custody of the mother, who now lives in Spain.

The last hope of the father is the Supreme Court. The local “Child Protection” refused to comment on the grounds that they are very busy.

More:
Sevdalin Chandarov fights for his daughter. Its class: She is painfully fond of him

Posted in Bulgaria, Family court, Family law, Jasmina Chandarov, Sevdalin Chandarov | 1 Comment

Final conclusions of the 1st International Conference on Shared Parenting (Bonn, 9-11 July, 2014)

conference_2014_header_EN_scal

Conference Conclusions – Bonn, July 11th 2014
Source: International Conference on Shared Parenting 2014 | twohomes.org | en_conference_2014

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At the conclusion of our first International Conference on Shared Parenting Prof. Dr. jur. Hildegund Sünderhauf (Chair of Scientific Committee) and Prof. Edward Kruk (ICSP President) developed the following theses to be discussed and adopted as a Consensus Statement:

Keeping in mind that the main goal of our Council is to develop evidence-based approaches to the needs and rights of children whose parents are living apart, we established as the theme for our first conference, “Bridging the Gap between Empirical Evidence and Socio-Legal Practice”. This was the first such gathering of scholars, practitioners and NGO representatives interested in the emerging paradigm of shared parenting in families in which parents are living apart. A wide range of topics as well as perspectives on shared parenting were discussed and debated, and at the end of the conference we were challenged in regard to determining what sort of consensus emerged on a number of important issues that we discussed and debated.

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We arrived at the following 6 major areas of consensus:

1. Shared parenting is a viable post-divorce parenting arrangement
There is a consensus that neither the discretionary best interests of the child standard, nor sole custody or primary residence orders, are serving the needs of children and families of divorce. There is a consensus that shared parenting is a viable post-divorce parenting arrangement that is optimal to child development and well-being, including for children of high conflict parents. The amount of shared parenting time necessary to achieve child well-being and positive outcomes is a minimum of one-third time with each parent, with additional benefits accruing up to and including equal (50-50) parenting time, including both weekday (routine) and weekend (leisure) time.

2. Shared parenting be defined as encompassing both: shared parental authority and shared parental responsibility
There is consensus that “shared parenting” be defined as encompassing both shared parental authority (decision-making) and shared parental responsibility for the day-to-day upbringing and welfare of children, between fathers and mothers, in keeping with children´s age and stage of development. Thus “shared parenting” is defined as “the assumption of shared responsibilities and presumption of shared rights in regard to the parenting of children by fathers and mothers who are living together or apart.”

3. National family law should at least include the possibility to give shared parenting orders
There is a consensus that national family law should at least include the possibility to give shared parenting orders, even if one parent opposes it. There is a consensus that shared parenting is in line with constitutional rights in many countries and with international human rights, namely the right of children to be raised by both of their parents.

4. Principles to guide the legal determination of parenting after divorce
There is a consensus that the following principles should guide the legal determination of parenting after divorce:
(1) shared parenting as an optimal arrangement for the majority of children of divorce, and in their best interests.
(2) parental autonomy and self-determination.
(3) limitation of judicial discretion in regard to the best interests of children.

5. The above applíes to the majority of children and families
There is a consensus that the above apply to the majority of children and families, including conflict families, but not to situations of substantiated family violence and child abuse. There is a consensus that the priority for further research on shared parenting should focus on the intersection of child custody and family violence, including child maltreatment in all its forms, including parental alienation.

6. Accessible network of family relationship centres
There is a consensus that an accessible network of family relationship centres that offer family mediation and other relevant support services are critical in the establishment of a legal presumption of shared parenting, and vital to the success of shared parenting arrangements.

Posted in International Platform on Shared Parenting, Shared Parenting, Twohomes.org | Leave a comment

PEF Manifesto – May 2014

PEF Manifesto  – May 2014

Version 0.2

 European Parliament Elections (May 22-25, 2014)

PEF, the Platform of European Fathers, demands that Europe examines its equality credentials to ensure true – and not merely professed – equality is introduced into all areas of life.

“Window dressing” which has been the preferred posture of political parties in every EU country is no longer tenable and equality which actually discriminates against boys, men and fathers should henceforth be acknowledged as such and publically made illegal.

The Platform of European Fathers speaks for fathers and families across the entire EU, from Portugal on the Atlantic coast to Scandinavia and from Greece to Lithuania and the Russian frontier.

All the organisations belonging to the Platform of European Fathers (PEF), demand that EU policy begins enacting legislation and values to ensure that in children’s lives fathers are treated as importantly as mothers.

In the coming 2014 EU elections – the following are “the needs” we expect our MEPs to address:

  • Children rights and opinions must not be overlooked or ignored, as they currently are
  • Guidelines must be created which ensure a stable father-child relationship all across Europe
  • Combating “child poverty” can be addressed by ensuring greater employment opportunities for fathers
  • Where this option is not immediately available, combating “child poverty” can also be addressed by ensuring child related state benefits “follow the child” which will abolish the discrimination suffered by fathers who are care for their children
  • In Sweden and Norway where shared parenting is more common the benefits paid are shared between both caring parents.
  • The payment of state benefits / allowances must be based on the children’s right to know and be cared for by both parents (ref. “Brussels IIa Regulation“, and “Convention on Contact concerning Children“).

To attain these modest goals we ask all MEPs to press for a European Union Taskforce to look into and address the present problems with the current sole-parent carer for children of divorce which has proliferated and is epidemic across Europe.

This leads to discrimination between both parents involved in the care for these children vis-a-vis the tax and benefits systems which is only further complicated by cross-border custody disputes.

The overwhelming majority of social scientists world wide endorses the conclusion that children are better served by forming good “attachment” with both parents from birth and in the following years. When couples live together only shared care can deliver this – and only shared parenting can deliver the same when the parents have separated.

No where in Europe can we see MEPs of any political parties supporting or promoting father, family and children’s rights.

We would like to see the European Parliaments have the courage of Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard in 2005-06, who advocated a bigger role for fathers in their children’s lives and then acted upon it.

But do we have such a figure in Europe ?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

NEW PEF MEMBER ORGANISATION :: LITHUANIAN ASSOCIATION AGAINST PARENTAL ALIENATION (APTA)

The Platform for European Fathers PEF welcomes the Lithuanian Association Against Parental Alienation (APTA) as its new member organisation from Lithuania.

Peter Tromp
Secretary general PEF

LITHUANIAN ASSOCIATION AGAINST PARENTAL ALIENATION (APTA)

LITHUANIAN ASSOCIATION AGAINST PARENTAL ALIENATION (APTA)

Asociacijos Prieš Tėvų Atstūmimą (APTA):
http://www.pries-tevu-atstumima.lt

Posted in Lithuanian, LITHUANIAN ASSOCIATION AGAINST PARENTAL ALIENATION (APTA) | 1 Comment

Custody in Britain (Robert Whiston, Strasbourg Conference, Oct. 23, 2013)

The Family and Custody in Crisis

(an international conference at European Parliament)

“CUSTODY in the UK”

Presentation by Robert Whiston FRSA

‘Orphaned by the state’

Oct 23rd 2013

How lovely it is to see so many men and women attending this ‘Custody in Crisis’ conference. We have been delayed a little this afternoon and so I have used the time to make myself known to you.

My name is Robert Whiston and I am the chairman of the UK-based “Men’s Aid” organisation – but today I am here as President of the European wide “Platform for European Fathers” (PEF).

As we have heard from previous speakers the difficulties we face are the same – regardless of the language we speak, country we come from, or legal system. We are here, yes, to discuss child-father relationships, but as is evident from the speakers, and the delegates I’ve met before the meeting started, that under the present regime custody adversely affects not just fathers but grandparents and second wives.

Previous speakers have touched upon and covered many of the topics I had planned to discuss. This is something of an advantage for me as it reinforces my analysis and it allows me to echo their findings. It should galvanise the convictions we all hold – from Belgian to Portugal and from Germany to Switzerland – that things need to change.

It is clear from listening today to the Vice President (Roberta Angelilli), and the former President that the EU is aware of the issues at the highest levels.

Snr. Carlo Cassini, President of Constitutional Affairs Commission, has today made it clear that the EU – and he as a former judge – recognises the very many things have to be altered in the our legal systems to achieve an equitable situation for fathers. We now have to translate that recognition into action.

PEF was recently actively engaged in organising a public opinion poll in both Belgium and Holland. The results showed that of those asked, the overwhelming majority supported more father involvement with child care and 67% of women were in favour of ‘shared parenting.’ [1] (See Appendix A below).

What previous speakers have allowed me to do, therefore, is “ad lib” and focus on aspects not yet covered and to give them more prominence than would otherwise have been possible. Time constraints mean I will have to be brief only touching on a few aspects but I will provide a fuller picture by way of Appendices on the Internet (see below).

Dr Jan Piet de Man spoke of “parenting plans” and joint physical custody in Belgium. Dr. Martin Widrig outlined the issues how custody worked in Switzerland, and family court judge, Antonio Jose Fialho, explored some of the problems and lack of compatible terminology when trying to compare Portuguese law.

I was particularly fascinated by the reference made earlier to the early Mongolian system of separation which put me in mind of the 16th and 17th century regime in England called, “Separation from bed and board”, which was used extensively by the majority of the population – only the wealthy being able to afford or procure permission to divorce from the state. [2]

Just by way of background – by 1912 the system of divorce and separation was not working well in Britain and prompted a Royal Commission to look into the ‘collapse of morals’ – working class women left destitute, and in part, the side-effects of fatherless children. However, the First World War intervened and nothing happened. Historically, the next big change came in 1956 with the Morton Report (see also ‘Putting Asunder’), and the Law Commission’s report, ‘The Field of Choice’ in 1966 which set the parameter for divorce reform and thus custody matters.

Several of today’s speakers used citations based on research from Anglo-Saxon countries – so as the only Anglo-Saxon here, I think I ought to reply. We have to acknowledge this lack of research outside Anglo-Saxon countries may be a problem but to those critics who say the research is too biased because of its Anglo-Saxon roots, I would reply that what is being measured is the “human condition” and that does not change from one side of the border to another or because the local language changes.

North America has been a source of much of the research and we have to accept that their budgets have for a long time been bigger than those in Europe – and I include Britain in that assessment. In my own country, and this is possible true in your countries, it has been ‘fashionable’ to focus repeatedly on lone mothers and never to examine lone fathers and fathers looking after children.

If a change is to be made, then it is in funding at a European level to research child-fathers issues and not simply keep looking at child-mother issues. The impression I get from academics and others researchers is that money is always difficult to find to finance such father-focused enterprises. If Europe is the beacon for ‘equality’ we must all visit our MEPs and ask ‘Why is there no funding ?

Terminology

It was clear from what the previous speakers said that the definition of ‘shared parenting’ varies greatly. This is exploited by those opposed to more fatherly involvement which shared parenting allows. Some countries use the term ‘joint custody’ some ‘co-parenting’ etc. Within the present British debate Prof. Parkinson, who helped shape Australian shared parenting legislation, said in evidence to the House of Commons that: [3]

  • “ . . . the term “shared parenting” is used merely to describe the continuing involvement of both parents in children’s lives after separation.”

Clearly, this is not what we are here to discuss. We do not just want minimal “continuing involvement”, which has no real definition – we want something more tangible. Indeed, in the UK legislation – as the Norgrove interim report conceded – already accepts shared parenting as the de facto regime: [4]

  • “Our starting point is that shared parenting is already the aim of current legislation and case-law, with established law and practice.” – page 158, Para 5.70

But the problem – as I shall refer to later – is that the judiciary chooses not to enforce it. Prof. Parkinson states that a minimum definition of ‘shared care’ in international literature is 30% of nights with each parent. That is also the view of all British father and family rights groups. In his view the term “shared care” rather than shared parenting, is accepted around the world to generally mean that children spend an equal time or ‘near’ equal time with each parent. What we, in England, would call shared parenting and those in France might term co-parenting.

Whilst professing ‘great sympathy for these parents’, i.e. fathers, denied reasonable time with their child, the Norgrove committee could not bring itself to accept that “a presumption of shared parenting time would bring about the improvements . . . . parents seek”, or indeed, would improve “outcomes” (for which, as we have heard today, there is overwhelming evidence that it would improve outcomes).

There are good grounds in Anglo-Saxon countries to reset the definition of ‘continuing involvement’ mentioned by Prof. Parkinson because legally and technically speaking – as the law now stands, and without added shared parenting (or care) legislation – fathers already have “continuing involvement” just by spending a few hours a week with their child.

‘Sole mother custody’, permitting as it does, a few hours of visiting time to fathers constitutes ‘continuing involvement’ in English common law. This is not good enough. What is needed is more hours and days, i.e. a greater quantum of time.

Standardisation

Realising this discrepancy (from country to country) in hours and days allotted and the terms used PEF has adopted a ‘simple-to-understand’ measure for ‘shared parenting.’ It seeks to eliminate and overcome the present inherent confusion, exploited by opponents by basing shared parenting on the number of “sleepovers” or overnight stays granted by the courts to both parents.

Only days that involve ‘overnight’ stays count towards shared parenting time – i.e. the 30% Prof. Parkinson mentioned above. We would urge all other groups to also adopt this basis.

Adopting a standardised measure – using the criterion of ‘sleepovers’ – would benefit all countries when trying to compare and contrast their regime with other countries using vastly differing terminologies. Phrase such as “shared care”, “shared parenting”, “co-parenting” and “shared residence” could in an instant, all be directly compared and averages, trends etc deduced.

For instance, the usual custody order in England (and, from what I have heard today, this is probably true of many European countries), is for a father to be allowed to see his child at the weekends and perhaps on one afternoon mid-week. But only one of those ‘visits’ might involve a sleepover. Since 2006 (almost 10 years ago) the British government, in an official reports, has been promising improved ‘overnight’ stay and sleepover time for fathers.

  • “Under the new [proposed] scheme, shared care is when a non-resident parent has overnight care of their child for at least 52 nights a year.”

What does that translate into ? In terms of days, 52 nights amounts to 14% of a calendar year (365 days / 52 nights). A large minority of fathers in Britain do not even get this 14%. So as a minimum we would want to see the average minimum time increased from 14% to 30% – as measured in ‘sleepovers.’ In our more enlightened times this increase cannot be regarded as unreasonable but the present 14% is totally unacceptable.

British vs. Irish law

Before the conference, I was asked to include information about Ireland as well as Britain but in the few minutes available to me I can touch on only a few of the distinctions – and then only superficially. In the fullness of time detailed notes together with detailed citations and graphs will be available on the PEF website. In many ways, the basis of Irish law has historically been the same as Britain’s and even today it often duplicates statute laws passed in Britain 2 or 3 years previously. However, the main difference between the two countries is that in the mid-1930s (after independence) Southern Ireland adopted a written Constitution which put the family and parents at the centre of the state (See Article 41 to 43 of the Irish Constitution). It is superb in my view, obliging as it does all Irish governments to keep a covenant with its citizens by putting parents and family life at the heart of the Irish Constitution (See Article 41 to 43 of the Irish Constitution).

Britain has never had a single all-embracing Bill of Rights or Constitution but has relied on the protection of “Common Law” – which, like the Rules of Cricket remains to this day ‘a total mystery’ to many Europeans.

Britain may not have a single Constitution but in fact we have several unrelated written ones and until 40 years ago we have always had the power of Common Law (the people’s law) to limit the power of the state to interfere in family matters.

Only ‘statute law’ can override British ‘Common Law’ and that is what has happened in Britain. The ‘personal has become the political’ – and as a result family law (formerly Common Law) has been regulated by vested interests resulting in poor quality and badly working Statute law. Ireland has not only Constitutional law but statute law, together with a mixture of residual Common Law left over from its days as part of Great Britain.

But regardless of legal framework fathers in Ireland and Britain suffer the same iniquities. In the case of Britain it is Statute law that is misused and in Ireland it is the Constitution that is overruled.

Custody

There is another difference, however, between Britain and Ireland, and that is in their population size – 60 million versus 4½ million for Ireland. By comparison to other EU states, Britain, France and Germany have huge populations and monumental numbers of divorces and fatherless children.[5]

Whatever new system we advocate in the future as a replacement must be seen to work not only in smaller countries but also on a more massive scale when applied to the larger EU countries where the price of failure will be more massive.

Of the 60 million people in Britain, approx. 10% are of not of European decent and their customs and traditions are very non-European. In coming years this may pose a problem too for many EU countries

From my talks this morning at the Council of Europe, with the Children’s Rights Division, it is apparent that this dimension, if it has been noted, is being ignored.

As I speak, England’s parliament is going through the pretence of supposedly strengthening ‘shared parenting’ [6] But none of the options proposed will create any greater legislative support for shared parenting than does the existing law – which is poor at best.

Parental separation affects around 3 million of the 12 million children in the UK. In other words, 1 in 4 children in Britain grow up without a father in the household. [7] These 3 million children have little hope of seeing their father in the future; they have essentially been ‘made orphans by the state.’

In Britain 90% to 95 % of custody awards are given to mothers – the same can be said of cohabitees (unmarried couples) who separate, and from what other speakers have said this is a not uncommon rate in their countries. (See Appendix B).

This – as you must all be aware – is premised on obsolete 19th values and the 20th century model of the sole male breadwinner. As society has changed dramatically in the last 40 years, then so too must the law. This obsolete custody regime is commonly referred to as “sole-mother-custody” and is the default model in all English-speaking countries with only one or two exceptions, e.g. Australia.

Previous speakers have outlined their nation’s experience of custody and parenting and I suspect there will be many similarities to Britain’s. So I would like to expand the ‘event horizon’ – surrounding the black hole of child custody – and dip into adjacent fields in a general way. Claims in the media often exaggerate the level of lone fatherhood and of fathers caring for their children in a shared or equal manner.

For example, only last week the Huffington Post quoted the respected Pew Center, in America, as reporting that, “the number of single fathers has risen nine fold” compared with 50 years ago. [8] In reality that ‘9 times increase’ had raised the number of ‘lone fathers’ looking after children to only 8% – so it is so small as to be minute. Similarly, in the UK, it is claimed that 5% of children are cared for by lone fathers. But look a little deeper and most of these alleged ‘lone fathers’ are, in fact, widowers.[9]

In my view, and you may agree, many European governments are eager to make reassuring noises in the realm of family law reforms – but never actually deliver. This might even apply to your country.

Peter Tromp, the General Secretary of PEF, very recently drew my attention to Protocol 7 of the “Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom” (http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/117.htm ), issued by the Council of Europe in 1998, which I think you will find most interesting. In particular, Article 5 states:

  • “Spouses shall enjoy equality of rights and responsibilities of a private law character between them, and in their relations with their children, as to marriage, during marriage and in the event of its dissolution.” (See Appendix C).

So far only a few countries, such as Albania, Bosnia, Croatia and the Czech Republic, have ratified this undertaking. By in large, some of the smaller countries have signed it but not yet ratified it – but it is the larger more ‘advanced’ counties, e.g. Netherlands, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom – to name but few – who have not even signed up to the commitment to better facilitate contact by fathers and have certainly not ratified it.

In any event the positives of Article 5 are negated and contradicted in the detailed wording found in Clause 36 of the ‘Explanatory notes’ of the Convention which allows countries to escape the full rigours of Article 5.

If your country’s government seems unwilling, or unable, to deliver better father contact time (visitation), then it could be in part due to the non-adoption of this particular Convention.

Failed legislation

Theoretically, Britain’s child custody legislation (following a divorce) is one of the most advanced. As far back as 1989 legislation accepted the concept of ‘shared residence’ (not just shared parenting) and legalised it.

But by a directive of government it has never been implemented in full and Britain has never had ‘shared residence’ (except in exceptional cases) and is no better placed than some of the more backward countries in the EU.

In Britain the Children Act 1989 is the pivotal legislation and it allowed for courts to make ANY (yes, any) type of custody order – and by implication any apportionment of time – it thinks suitable. Although the “sole-mother-custody” regime applies to over 90% of all custody awards in this has not always been the case. Before the 1989 Children Act (which is the crucial piece of legislation in Britain), ‘joint custody’ – a forerunner of shared parenting – was growing in popularity throughout the 1980s.

In some regions between 30% and 50% of custody awards were “joint.”

In the context of British law, ‘joint custody’ has always meant ‘joint legal and physical custody’, and not just the more abstract American ‘joint legal custody’ which imparts no rights.

The ‘fact’ that over 30% of custody awards were “joint” always surprises commentators and researchers – and for any doubters here today I refer them directly to the much ignored Law Commission’s ‘Supplement to Working Paper No. 96’ of 1987. [10]

So widespread is this ignorance that one has to ask if researchers and politicians choose to ignore it official data ? Mothers have a veto over a father’s visitation times (and this has also affected grandparent’s rights). The damage done to a child (the ‘pathologies’ as Dr Jan Piet de Man detailed), of not having fatherly input was for 20 years or more, down played or ignored. The new phenomenon that has emerged from this situation is “Parental Alienation” and is an unpleasant consequence of “sole-mother-custody” and the ‘locking-out’ of fathers from their children’s lives.

After listening to today’s speakers there is, I feel, a danger not yet foreseen and which we might be ‘sleepwalking’ into and if I explain the British version you may see parallels.

Originally, parents had both custody and guardianship of their children and courts were reluctant to intervene unless it involved obvious abuse or mistreatment. But statute laws were introduced in 1989 to remove the status of guardianship specifically from fathers, (the guardianship and custody role of unmarried mothers remains ambiguous), and ‘custody’ was replaced by ‘residence.’ (Appendix D).

In place of ‘guardianship’ both divorced parents were given ‘joint parental responsibility’ after divorce which may be comparable to “joint parental authority” in some other EU countries. However, in test cases ‘joint parental responsibility’ has been shown to be overridden more easily by the courts (a paper tiger) compared with guardianship rights which would not have allowed them.

So I would just bring this play on words to your attention which could later have far-reaching effects. We have learnt to our cost, that ‘residence’ and ‘joint parental responsibility’ is a lightweight alternative to the former terms and status. Courts can veto parental wishes and it is the courts that now have the exclusive power once reserved for parents. (Appendix D).

The result is that custody in the UK is, I am sad to say, the same today as it was in 1989 – more than 25 years ago – it has become set in concrete, and arguably worse since parents can now parent only ‘under licence’ from more interventionist courts.

Distorting data

I had also planned to deal at length with information supplied to the public that is manipulated and misused for ulterior motives but today others have covered the ground most adequately. So I can only lend my support to their comments.

However, I will just mention a few instances of the more grotesque distortions in Britain. The government has accepted a survey by Gingerbread (2008 and 2009), that the level of shared parenting in Britain is at 17% of custody awards in Britain. [11]

This is remarkable, if not implausible, particularly when compared with other more credible data (more examples can be found at Appendix E). If we examine reports from Denmark and Australia we find the level of shared parenting in Denmark is put at 20% and in Australia (since 2006) at around 15%. Only Sweden, long associated with shared parenting, can mange the same 20% of children in shared parenting arrangements after divorce.

All 3 countries have specific ‘shared parenting’ legislation in force – so how can Britain – with shared parenting ‘killed at birth’ in 1989 – have shared parenting amounting to 17% ? The obvious answer is a manipulation of definitions.

Equally, the claim is made in academic and official circles that when divorcing or separating only 10% of custody cases are decided in court and that parents sort out their own arrangement in 90% of instances. The implication is that at 10%, any reform is hardly worthwhile. With approx. 140,000 divorces every year affecting about 120,000 children, this is numerically impossible to square (allegedly 12,000 child welfare reports would have to be made out), when official statistics shows over 90,000 court orders made each year, and each would be dependent on a welfare report. [12] (Appendix B and F).

1970 – A decisive year

Before going further – and running out of time – I should just mention the key year of 1970. I don’t know if anyone has realised it but before 1970 there were no fathers’ groups. All fathers groups in Europe and North America date from after 1970. We would not be here today but for all the legal (and social) changes between 1970 and 1973.

These include divorce reform (between the years 1969 and 1973) legalised abortion in 1967 (UK), Equal Pay legislation, 1970 to 1975, and the universal usage of “the pill.” Not least was a seismic change is custody rules.

Without inferring any moral judgment, the year 1969 saw the first falls across the Western world in marriage numbers and the first notable increases in cohabitation. Thereafter, the state’s subsidy in expenditure terms to each child rose even though the birthrate declined – so each child unit cost the state more.[13] (Appendix G).

Whose Best Interests ?

Today many of the speakers have referred to the phrase “in the Best Interest of the Child” and this is the most enduring (and possibly worst) legacy of Anna Freud.[14] Among the most influential changes embraced by all legal systems around the world, was the adoption of Anna Freud’s 1973 book regarding the ephemeral and indeterminable concept of “the child best interest.”

Precisely because it is ethereal, lacks solidity and continuity or the ability to meet a child’s needs as the child matures, is arbitrarily set at a very young age, and is ‘indeterminable’ (i.e. it is impossible to define), it should be the least attractive of candidates to choose as a foundation for custody.

The concept ‘feigns’ putting child rights ahead of parental rights in the name of doing what is best for the child but in reality not only does the child’s voice not matter but parental opinions are brushed aside and the real power to determine a child’s fate rests with the court – which often never sees the child or at best ‘knows’ it after one of two hours of reading of court reports.

Though Anna Freud’s and her books are central to our present dilemma, she, and her lack of competence, sexual predilections and dubious mental state, are frequently overlooked.[15]

Freud’s mantra of ‘the child’s best interests’ should have been used to assist children’s development and help them towards a better future. But instead it has been used to cripple any attempt to normalise relationships between fathers and their children.

In my view, Freud’s experimentation [her term], on “orphaned” children is not transferable to children of divorce. Some of her children subjects, like those in London, were orphaned and traumatised by the bombing of the early 1940s. Others like those from the Theresienstadt (Czech equiv. Terezín), concentration camp were children of the Holocaust – and completely feral. [16] Completely without adult input, they had no idea of speech, language or social interaction. At least the London orphans had known their parents (albeit briefly) and felt parental love somewhere in their lives.

However, none of the 2 above scenarios comes close to that of children whose parents are divorcing – these children know their parents and have felt their parents’ deep and unconditional love. For their part the parents may not be able to get along but they still deeply love their children.

I believe, this dichotomy goes to the heart of the present 2013 debate in Britain – politicians cannot separate in their minds the two distinct scenarios of Public law (dealing with sometimes horrendous abuse and neglect suffered by children), and Private law cases where the two parents simply want a divorce but where both parents dearly love and want to maintain a relationship with their children.

Concluding remarks

The present situation is that in both Ireland and Britain the judiciary have chosen to ignore their obligations or at least interpret them in an unexpected way. In the case of Ireland the Constitution has been sidelined and in the case of Britain the judiciary selects only those parts of Statute law it finds convenient. The result is a disfigurement of ‘the family’; it is by-passed and fathers are no longer the central figures in the families they create and financially support. This has had “collateral damage” to society and the tax-payer, about which I will touch upon later. (Appendix G).

Having said all that I would like to end on a slightly more optimistic note. Looking to the future in Britain there are one or two bright spots of sanity in the form of parents being able to agree their own maintenance payments – without the ‘intervention’ of the state or rigid formulas.

  • [families should be] “empowered to take responsibility for the welfare of their children” [not the state and that parental] “responsibility is multi-faceted.” [17]
  • “Support and empower more parents who can, to make their own family based child maintenance arrangements . . . .” [18]

Already a reality is the re-introduction of the Married Man’s Allowance – an income tax coding concession – which is an official nod from government towards incentivising marriage and the role stability plays in children’s lives.

There is also the, in my view, beneficial switch to US “community property” style law which will bring gender equality a step nearer – a regime that I understand some EU countries already have.

In England, at present, we have a rather ugly and blunt instrument of asset apportionment (confiscation) which disadvantages fathers excessively but never women.

In addition, enforceable pre-nuptial contracts may become law in England and their scope may also include the ability to determine Child Support, property apportionment at divorce and child custody matters.

‘Parenting plans’ were mentioned earlier by other speakers, and they are essential to the smooth running of shared parenting. It is something that Britain’s bureaucracy already had printed and ready to send out as far back as 2002 but for political reasons never did. However, they may see the light of day with the possible introduction into English contract law of binding Pre-Nuptial Contracts which will / can specify ‘contact’ and sleepover times etc. after a divorce. [19]

If Britain does one day legalise Pre-Nuptial Contracts together with the promise post-nuptial contracts then Ireland will probably not be far behind.

Finally, after the banking ‘meltdown’ of 2008, the ‘tax take’ from companies and individuals is lower than expected because the economy is in recession and the “tax base” that governments depend upon has been attacked and has shrunk. In these challenging economic times, we would do well to bear in mind the accepted wisdom of the ages that, “the engine of wealth creation is the married man.” But with the ‘UN-married’ man with a family becoming an increasing minority in some societies we may soon have to re-write the phrase to read:-

  • “the engine of wealth creation in any society is the inclusion of fathers in stable family units and the economies of scale it brings.”

Encouraging fathers – married or unmarried – to be at the heart of stable, loving family units not only releases resources for hard-pressed governments but provides a larger “tax base” for future governmental expenditure and improvements that will benefit government and assist all of our standards of living.

E N D

Appendices

Appendix A

More information about the public opinion polls PEF was recently involved with can be seen at the following sites:

  1. “Belgians like their shared parenting laws” http://motoristoppression.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/16/
  2. “Dutch, at 70% go ‘shared parenting mad’ http://robertwhiston.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/39/

In Feb 2012 and closer to home, the Guardian newspaper in Britain – renown for its generally feminist Stras_fig1views and left-wing opinions – sponsored a readership poll asking the question:

“Do fathers have adequate contact rights under current law ?” The result can be seen displayed here – 71% said they did not (Fig 1).

Another English newspaper, the Telegraph (generally known for its centre-right wing views), also undertook a readership poll in Feb 2012. ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9058018/Children-win-legal-right-to-see-both-parents-after-divorce.html ). It asked a slightly more complex set of conditional questions, namely:

  • Q. Should fathers be given greater access to their children after a divorce ?
  1. No, not if the father has walked out on the family
  2. No, mothers are better at looking after children
  3. Yes, children need their fathers no matter what the circumstances
  4. Yes, fathers should have the same rights as mothers

The result showed that 75% of Brits think fathersStras_figpoll should have the same rights as mothers regarding the care and parenting of their children after divorce (2nd Feb 2012). Only 7% said ‘no’ and only 2% (94 votes out of 4,793), said mothers were better at looking after children. The article also stated that 8% of single parents in Britain are fathers but no source was cited. The results will not only give hope to campaign groups that have argued for years that fathers deserve a legal right to more equal access after a divorce but politically it isolates parties opposed to shared parenting. An implication first revealed by the surveys PEF was associated with in both Belgium and Holland where the left and right political parties were shown to be out of touch with the aspirations of their electorate, especially women, who were in agreement at over 67%.

Appendix B

In Britain 90% to 95 % of custody awards are given to mothers – the same can be said of cohabitees (unmarried couples) who separate. NB. The Telegraph, of Feb 2nd 2012 (above), stated that 8% of single parents in Britain are fathers but no breakdown or source was cited. An English citation underlining this bias is the: Omnibus Survey Report No. 38 [ONS], “Non-resident parental contact, 2007/8.”

  • Respondents to the module
  • The achieved sample comprises of 265 respondents who were resident parents and 170 respondents who were non-resident parents. There were 10 respondents who were both a resident parent and a non-resident parent.
  • As in 2002, the majority (89 per cent) of resident parents were female while the majority of non-resident parents were male (88 per cent).

Another example underpinning the perception is in the ‘Millennium Cohort Study First, Second, Third and Fourth Surveys’, (page 50). Of the 18,815 questioned there were only 28 male main respondents, all natural fathers, 18 of whom were lone fathers”.

  • “The study mainly consists of interviews with the main carer. This was the mother in 98% of cases.”

In a paper by Joan Hunt & Ceridwen Roberts (“Child contact with non-resident parents”, pub. Jan 2004), they state that “over 80% of children of separated parents live exclusively or mainly with their mother” and that “there may be 2 million non-resident fathers in the population.” stras_fig2

Since 1991 the figures have ceased to be collected and so we cannot be absolutely certain but we can gain an insight from other sources, e.g. court awards and Judicial Statistics, the General Household Survey (organised by ONS). The graph left (Fig 2), is derived from General Household Survey of ‘heads of households’ among lone parents (2002). (Source: General Household Survey (GHS), ‘Population Trends’, No 109, Autumn 2002 (Fig 6, p.53).

Viewed over a longer time period the decline in father care – shown in yellow- is more apparent (from 13.7% in 1971 to 7.8% in 1992). However, as ONS pointed out at the time, the number of ‘lone fathers’ was too small to be reliable and a significant number were widowers. A Bradshaw & Stimson (1997) paper. first noted what is now recognized as a ‘gender divide’, characterised by perennial female under-reporting (see Bradshaw below). The graph also reveals the compensating rise for mothers given custody and thus became ‘head of lone parent households’ (shown in blue), rose from 86.0% in 1971 to 92.2% in 1992. [Coincidentally, the phenomena of custody figures ceasing to be collected also occurred in New Zealand when they made legislative changes]. stras_fig3

The cessation of data collection caused by the Children Act 1989 means that we have to use other indirect sources to assess custody by parents. One method is to measure the number of ‘dependent children’ cared for by lone parents (Fig 3).

As one would expect, in 1993 there are no lone fathers in the 16 – 24 age group (though this might not hold true today, 2013). As divorce becomes statistically more likely, i.e. in the 30 to 40-year-old age groups, the number of ‘never married’ women who are heads of households, i.e. with dependent children falls – but the number of separated, or divorced, or widowed who become heads of households increases (Fig 3). In part this is reinforced by extra-marital fertility, i.e. births to females who are not married. The Table also shows that for men in the statistically more ‘at risk’ age of divorce range lone fathers with ‘dependent children’ increase in number from between 9% to 29%, However, once again since the sample size is small so it cannot be relied upon and a significant number will again be widowers. Stras_fig3+

To confirm the falling trend in father care since 1970, the graph (left) shows the ‘disposal’ of children by the courts (by percentage), prior to the Children Act 1989, which came into force in 1991 (source: Judicial Statistics, courtesy of ‘SPIG’).

A healthy situation was developing in the 1980s with more fathers permitted by the courts to become involved in their children’s lives (see ‘joint custody’). However, all the gains of joint custody were negated by the Children Act 1989 – the decline in mother custody was reversed.

The Table below, ‘Child custody after divorce’ (Fig 4), clearly shows the fall in mother custody, down to 66%, and the rise in joint custody awards from 1986 to 1991(from 15% to 25%). [The present shared parenting campaign across all of Europe and America is to restore this level of fatherly involvement]. stras_fig4‘Joint custody’ as a court order award disappeared from family court judgments (it was intended to be replaced by ‘shared residence’ orders and ‘no order’ orders) and so the proportion of mother custody rose from 70% in 1990 to 90% almost immediately by 1992. ‘Residence orders’ (Sect 8 of the Children Act 1989), do not specify sole or shared residence, they can be granted to one or two parents and even to ‘third parties’, e.g. a lawyer.

Appendix C

Check mate ?

Protocol 7 of the “Convention on Contact concerning Children” issued by the Council of Europe (1998), and thus part of the European Convention for Human Rights (ECHR)’ states: Spouses shall enjoy equality of rights and responsibilities of a private law character between them, and in their relations with their children, as to marriage, during marriage and in the event of its dissolution.” [ REF: Council of Europe - ETS no. 117 http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/EN/Reports/HTML/117.htm ].

However, the situation is immediately cancelled out (as with UN Charters) by wording that allows each state to exempt themselves as Clause 36 of the ‘Explanatory notes’ demonstrates: 36. The fact that spouses shall enjoy equality of rights and responsibilities in their relations with their children shall not prevent States from taking such measures as are necessary in the interests of the children. [ REF: http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/EN/Reports/Html/117.htm ].

Then again the situation is contradicted by the “Convention on Contact concerning Children” (Council of Europe – ETS No. 192), especially Articles 3, 4, and 5. [ Ref http://www.conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/192.htm ]. Only 8 of the 27 EU countries have ratified this Convention (e.g. Albania, Romania, Czech Republic and Croatia). None of the major western EU countries have signed it let alone ratified it.

Appendix D

Guardianship It is necessary to distinguish, in a few words, between the technical points of “Guardianship” and “Custody”. When both parents are married to one another they both have custody of the child and the father is the guardian, that is to say, he is the person who is responsible for the care of the child (though the actual care may be done by his wife), provides financial support, guides, safeguards his interests, etc and who makes all the major decisions in their life. These would include, for example, where the child lives, schooling, religion, medical permission and procedures, provides sustenance, the giving of permissions (in loco parentis) and being held accountable by all the authorities for the child. If a father is absent for any length of time then guardianship rights automatically pass (devolve) to the mother for that period.

“Custody” can easily be confused with the powers of “guardianship”, but custody is defined as where the child lives ‘primarily’ with the parent. When parents are married to one another the parents are deemed to have joint custody. Where parents were not married, ie the child was illegitimate, the mother had sole guardianship rights and the father none. Without guardianship rights one cannot expect to have custody rights. Unfortunately, the Children Act 1989 abolished guardianship rights for married fathers and reduced them to the same status as unmarried fathers:-.

  • “The rule of law that a father is the natural guardian of his legitimate child is abolished”. – Children Act 1989, Part 2 (4).

In English law unmarried fathers have historically never had any ‘rights’ (and few responsibilities) over their offspring Legitimate and illegitimate were also thus put on the same plane with the law remaining silent over whether mothers still had guardianship in the absence of the father’s right. All fathers were instead given the status of ‘joint parental responsibility’ which claimed to have the same powers – though events have shown clearly they do not.

When those new powers were tested in court one finds that the old powers of guardianship have now shifted to the courts. Summed up in a few words, parents might now have only a “licence” to parent. This is a technical point but it is a trend noticed in many other countries in the EU which are re-defining their legal phrases so that some countries have now adopted phrases such as “partial authority” or ‘parental responsibility.’

Once, parents had both custody and guardianship of their children and courts were reluctant to intervene unless it involved obvious abuse or mistreatment. That is now a distant memory. Indeed, the abolition can be seen as regressive and counter libertarian. It is reminiscent of aboriginal Australia where there is no status of children legislation regarding ‘illegitimacy’:

  • “ . . . . in the case of an illegitimate child only the consent of ‘every mother or guardian of the child’ is required. . . .”

Ref. http://motoristmatters.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/12/ and http://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/14.%20Aboriginal%20Traditional%20Marriage%3A%20Areas%20for%20Recognition/legitimacy-children-adoption?print

Appendix E

Distorting data

The very idea of falsifying data is instinctively repugnant to most minds but especially to scientists and academics. It is difficult to believe that a trust would be so abused for personal political gain. However, we should remind ourselves that it was at a meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in 1996, that Irwin Hyman together with Leonard Eron proposed a campaign of what they called ‘advocacy research’. They proposed using just bits of research as propaganda tools in order to change public policy. The symposium was debating smacking children and despite numerous studies presented, it was impossible to establish a body of evidence showing a causal relationship between smacking and negative ‘outcomes’ for children (see also “Punishing parents” by Frank Furedi, Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/2358 and author of “Where Have All The Intellectuals Gone ? Confronting 21st Century Philistinism.”

The ‘Gingerbread’ surveys of 2008 and 2009 set out to find ‘What were the problems and difficulties mothers experienced with contact arrangements.’ This included how mothers managed their arrangements for the non-resident father to spend time with his children.

They did not set out to find the number, or the effectiveness, of ‘shared parenting’ but their results have been used for that purpose in the years since 2008.

“Early in the design process, we decided against including questions for respondents who said they shared their child’s care equally with the other parent.”

The survey of 2008 had 550 participants with the overwhelming majority being mothers with residence and only a small minority of non-resident fathers. http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/sites/default/files/Problematic%20contact%20after%20separation%20and%20divorce.pdf.

The survey of 2009 (http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/contact-problems-separated-families), also by Victoria Peacey & Joan Hunt, used a sub-set of the 2008 participants and numbered only 41 parents from 40 families (27 resident parents and 14 non-resident parents). The level of ‘shared parenting’ in England & Wales – deduced from their survey of ‘problematic contact’ was a claim of 17%. This data has been accepted in government circles and, as the graph below shows, the official organ of statistics in Britain (the ONS) would appear to confirm the level – but at 18%.

However, the 18% is based on measurements where 58% of children who never stay with their non-resident parent (father), were omitted and those included were those who had a non-resident parent (father). [See ONS "Figure 4" below].

Stras_figure_4_pic Source: Fig 4 ‘Population Trends No 140’, Summer 2010 www.statistics.gov.uk/populationtrends/ptissue/ and and www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/…rd/…/population-trends—no–140.pdf

This would imply only 42% are being counted or did not have a non-resident father – this might map onto the level of illegitimate birth in the UK. Since in the region of 90% of custody (residence) awards are to mothers the graph above is measuring only a fraction of a population ( see Appendix A above). Stras_fig5

In comparing Britain with Denmark, Peacey & Hunt would prefer to put custody arrangements in a favourable light (17%), but as the Table here shows (Fig 5), in 2001 children who lived (i.e. resided) with both parents amounted to over 75%.

The following Table (Table 3.1) is taken from Peacey & Hunt’s 2009 Gingerbread survey entitled; “I’m not saying it was easy . . .”. In the 2nd half, i.e. “Summary” it is noticeable how mothers tend to under-report or report adversely, i.e. 35% say there is ‘no face-to-face’ time but fathers report this happens in only 15% of cases.

Stras_Key_point Source: http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/sites/default/files/Contact%20problems%20in%20separated%20families.pdf

Mothers downplay categories such as “At least every week” and ‘At least every month’ (at 34 and 18) but fathers report it to be 46 and 20 respectively. This phenomenon was first identified by Bradshaw and Stimson in a 1997 paper (http://robertwhiston.wordpress.com/2008/05/09/8/ ). It was then confirmed by Bradshaw and his team at the University of York in research into Child Support payments (see “Non-Resident Fathers in Britain”, Bradshaw, Stimson, Williams & Skinner (Uni. of York, pub. SPRU). Interim report 1997).

Appendix F

The anticipated ‘plateau’ in divorce numbers foreseen by reformers in 1968 never materialised in the immediately post-reform years. The country had to wait until 1986 before the disquieting increase ceased and it was not clear until the mid 1990s – given the annual fluctuations – that a plateau had, indeed, been reached. Stras_div_eng

The graphic (right) shows divorcing numbers finally ‘plateau’ed’ at approx 150,000 per annum after 1986. In the period we learn from Parliamentary Answers (among other sources), that about 120,000 children p.a. were affected by their parents divorce. Numerous government sponsored Reports and academic papers have, since 2004, promulgated the view that only 10% of custody cases are determined by family courts. This dissemination of this figure is thought by many to be untrue and flawed. This is entirely due to the Omnibus Survey and an examination of the basis (see below) explains why it failed to capture an accurate picture for such custody issues.

  • The Omnibus Survey [circa 2004] is a multi-purpose survey based on a representative sample of adults aged 16 or over. The report is based on 935 adults. 649 were resident parents 312 were non-resident parents and 26 respondents were both (so are counted in both categories).” The DfES made available the results on Friday 19th March 2004
  • The most recent Omnibus Survey s still multi-purpose survey but has increased its sample size to about 1,800 adults with over 300 questions asked

From academia, Prof Liz Trinder – now at University of Exeter – writing in the Guardian (6th Feb 2012), also wrongly relied on data from the ONS Omnibus Survey when she claimed that, “Only 10% of separated families go to court about contact.” (See http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/06/no-bias-against-fathers-childrens-act ).

Trinder is not alone in this misplaced dependency – Joan Hunt & Ceridwen Roberts (“Child contact with non-resident parents” 2004), Mavis Maclean, Bren Neale, Amanda Wade, Carol Smart, Vanessa May, and Clare Furniss (to name but a few), have all blundered since 2004 in this most basic of facts. In a government Green Paper (‘DfES and DH Research’, paras 6, 19 and 64), it stated:

  • As already stated, around 10% of parents experiencing relationship breakdown choose to resolve their contact issues with the help of the courts every year. In 2003 this resulted in 67,000 contact orders being made by the courts. This figure continues the rising trend that has been seen over the previous 10 years, between 1992 and 2002, the number of private law contact orders made by courts in England and Wales more than tripled from 17,470 to 61,356.

Indeed, this is the exact wording used in a parliamentary answer (see http://www.publications.parliament. ukhttp://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmconst/116/116we32.htm ) and has been used on frequent occasions since. It is no coincidence that these cabal of luminaries, and others, are of the persuasion that contact is working fine and is the best option for children and that shared parenting is fraught with dangers and drawbacks. Doubt has to be cast on this assertion of 10% of custody awards because data from many other sources indicate a much higher level. For instance, the “Disposal of selected applicants in private law in all tiers of court” (see Fig 6), lists all awards processed by court in England & Wales. If only 10% we settled by a court Stras_Fig6order then “Total Orders Made” would be in the region of 15,000 (i.e. 10% of 150,000 divorces). But as we can see in 2002 and 2011 Residence orders alone were in excess of 30,000 and Contact orders ranged up as high as 60,000.

To underline the level of court ordered custody awards, CAFCASS, a semi governmental agency, handled 33,803 private law cases (i.e. divorce) and together with public law cases handled 73,937 children’s cases in 2004. CAFCASS produces annual report and the numbers can be checked for any year since 2001. In 2007-08 CAFCASS worked with 77,134 children and in 2010 it worked, according to their Annual Report, with 147,000.

In Parliament, question are frequently asked of ministers concerning CAFCASS and about child custody generally. (see http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmconst/116/116we32.htm ). The replies are illuminating as this diagram (below), from 2005, demonstrates. According to stras_Fig_6+government sources there were approx. 60,000 contact orders made for fathers every year

From Joan Hunt’s paper of a few years ago (“Child contact with non-resident parents”, pub 2004), we learn that:

  • “In 2001, 146,914 children in England and Wales experienced parental divorce, 68% of them aged 10 or less and 24% under 5.”

So how can it be claimed that only 10% go through the court system ?

Hoisted by their own petard ?
What this claim really hides is that the fate of 90% of children fail to go through the court system and therefore, presumably, the state is derelict in its statutory duty of care and actually has no idea what happens to them. Are these reformers who feign ‘child rights and ‘child protection’, intellectually “comfortable” with the fact that if their claims are true it would mean 90% of children each year disappear from the safety radar ?
Is it acceptable to leave 90% of children without a safety net, i.e. arguably ‘at risk’, solely due to having no “check list” as required by the Children Act 1989 ?is this why some private law cases migrate to public law some years later when abuse, neglect, torture and even death have occurred ?

The various government Depts. (i.e. Whitehall), are themselves unable to co-ordinate an agreed figure for children of separating parent. For example, the Ministry of Justice (see Table 2.4 of ‘Family matters’) showed that in 2011 the total number of ‘applications’ to courts amounted to some 178,517 p.a. (using historical standards, this indicates a separation level of some 165,000 couples). [See also Table 2.5 Family Matters Summary statistics on matrimonial proceedings, 2007-2011 http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/statistics/courts-and-sentencing/jcs-2011/family-matters-tables-chp2-2011.xls ].

Addendum -Unmarried families are more likely to fall apart“. ‘The Times’ (London) of, Feb 5th 2005 carried a story that new research had indicated that “THREE QUARTERS (75%) of all family breakdowns affecting young children now involve unmarried parents” and that “The findings indicate that family breakdown is no longer driven by divorce, but by the collapse of unmarried partnerships” (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1471297,00.html). It continued:

  • An estimated 88,000 children aged under 5 were affected by the separation of their unmarried parents in 2003, compared with about 31,000 children under 5 whose married parents divorced, the research concludes. According to the 2001 census, 59% of households with children are married, 11% are co-habiting and 22% are lone parent families.
  • The study is likely to provoke heated discussion among family policy specialists. While it argues for the Government to do more actively to promote marriage, critics say that encouraging parents who do not want to marry to do so simply does not work.
  • Harry Benson, author of the research and director of the Bristol Community Family Trust, an independent relationship education and research body, based his findings on Office for National Statistics data on divorce and jointly registerd births, together with ONS research on the ratio between breakdown rates for married and unmarried families.

Is this, one has to wonder, the population being measured by the DCA and the Omnibus survey that has given rise to the absurd 10% figure ?

When a political point is to being made even seemingly innocuous data is found to be either untrue or distorted, as in the case of Carol Smart’s Oct 1999 paper “Divorce in England 1950-2000: A Moral Tale” when she writes:

The trend did not start rising before 1950 and the impression that it continued through the 1950s is totally false. What actually happened was that under war-time conditions divorces increased and ‘emergency powers’ were enacted between 1947 and 1950. Divorce had actually fallen by 1950 and thereafter, all Stras_Fig7through the 1950s, divorces actually declined as the diagram shows (see Fig 7).

To confirm this data, the Table below (Fig 8), is taken from the House of Commons Research Paper (No 96/42) of 1995 and prepared for the impending Family Law Act of 1996. It shows, in conjunction with other graphs on this page, that divorces only began to increase in the 1960s. Given the above citations it is understandable to disregard journalist Maxine Frith’s otherwise excellent article entitled “Breaking up is hard to do: Divorce the harsh truth” (Feb 3rd 2006), – which focused on a series of court cases involving vast settlements awarded to ex-wives when she states:

  • “Between 1958 and 1969 the divorce rate reached almost 100,000 a year, but yet again, it took the law a long time to catch up with social changes, . . . .”

The actuality is shown in Fig 7. No where in the 1950s did divorce reach 100,000 pa. It was not until the mid 1970 (not the 1960s) when divorces first topped 100,000 pa.

Stras_Fig_8Prof Parkinson (the University of Sydney), in his recent presentation to the UK parliament (Dec 2012), perhaps best summed up the situation:

“ . . .. One of the other inaccuracies that I identified in the Norgrove Report was the much repeated claim that 90% of people resolve parenting arrangements for themselves without litigation. The Report cited one study to the effect that “only 10% of separating couples go to court to settle their disputes about contact” and concluded therefore that “most separating couples” make their own arrangements (Family Justice Review, Final Report, 2011, p.133). However, the study the Committee cited does not actually support that 10% figure and nor does it indicate that the remainder, or even “most” couples, make their own arrangements. . . . “ – Ref. Lader, 2008, Table 2.9 p.23).

Appendix G

The late 1960s perhaps represented the high water mark of Cold War paranoia and the sense of latent dangers. Into this atmosphere certain milestones were passed in England including the legalising in 1967 of homosexuality, albeit only among adults over 21, was seen as brave if not foolhardy given the known dangers of espionage. Thereafter, the cultural hegemony (in the non-Marxist sense), of shared values whereby the complex stratified social structures (social order), that gave identity and value to each social and economic level, began to unravel.

The public of 1970 were not equipped to assess what was happening to them and ‘for them’. They were unaware that their world was going to be turned upside down. These events have now been adopted into the mainstream culture for a younger generation and part of a ‘normal’, liberal society, i.e. taken for granted.

After 1970 and at nearly every level of economic and social life, social trends began to move away and take up their present position, e.g. declining number of marriages, increases in divorce, a falling birth rate, the pensions ‘panic’, smaller Completed Family Size (CFS), Total Fertility Rate (TFR) falling overall but in some sectors increasing. These changes were not ‘pain free’, nor were they without cost.

The unit cost paid by the state for each child, for example, more than doubled. The public had not the faintest hint of this. There was no expectation at the time that the reforms would cost the tax-payer dear – close to the £20 billion in benefit subsidies in 2010.

In 1998 – and using 1996 prices – it was calculated that the gross cost of state benefits to SLM (single lone mothers) alone, was £20 billion – calculated as payments that were not off-set by tax receipts from the recipient SLM [Ref: R. Whiston]. This was more than endorsed by a Parliamentary paper in 2000 and in a paper titled “Price of Parenthood” by Jill Kirby (Centre for Policy Studies, pub 2005) which stated:

  • “The cost of `child-contingent support’ has risen by 52% since the Labour Government came to power, and now exceeds £20 billion a year.”

Stras_Fig9In England & Wales the number of first time marriages (the true barometer) reached their zenith in 1971 and in the years thereafter they relentlessly declined (Fig 9). Throughout the 1950s divorce had been declining (see Fig 7), and marriages increasing – cohabitation was so unheard of that is was not officially counted or measured until 1989. However, during the 1960s small legal amendments were made to how payout to divorcing spouses (wives) were made, e.g. lump sums, resulting in a slight upward swing – as the graph, Fig 10 below, reveals. Then in the years between 1968 and 1972 most advanced Western countries curiously adopted the same form of divorce reform. stras_10The trend of a growing number of divorces did not develop a rapid momentum during the 1960s but was a slow one (see Fig 10 and 11).

Until the present era the previous peak number of divorces had been in 1947 (60,000), caused by the return of husbands from ‘active service’ in the armed forces and finding matters not as they would have wished. ‘Emergency measures’ were put in hand to grant “Quickie” divorces to deal with the backlog. Twenty five percent of all divorces were petitions by husbands on the grounds of their wife’s adultery. Today there are around half that number of men who petition for divorce.

Divorce number had gradually increased to 60,000 by 1969 -71 which some have used to justify the need for the reforms of two years later. However, the level of divorce after World War II, which also reached 60,000 in 1947, was incentivised to a large degree by a relaxing of court rules at the instigation of government and policies aimed at recognising the pre-existing marital dislocation caused by war and subsidising the process. Those incentives and subsidies were removed in 1951 and the results were almost instantaneous.

At the time (i.e. 1968 – 1972), the argument for remodeling the Western world’s divorce regimes was that after a small surge in divorce numbers would be followed by slump and continue at that plateau (reminiscent of stras_111947 to 1950).

Fig 11 (right) shows the gradual increase throughout the 1960s followed by the sudden upsurge of 1971 -72 as the reforms became operational. There was a small ‘slump’ (circa 1973) but it was short-lived and divorce numbers increased unabated to the present level of 150,000 per annum.

The combined effects of social change among marriage, divorce and cohabitation together with subsidies (since 1976), for never-married-mothers has produced greater nominal fertility, a large population, yet a smaller birth rate and smaller family size.

The cost to Society is in the form of taxation, i.e. the burden of subsidies to non-family units with children (SMHs), ‘alternative life-styles’ and to support ‘low income’ households. The government’s own subsidy to women who bring a divorce petition in the form of Legal Aid was costing £2 billion per annum – jepardising the whole legal aid budget. New Zealand had faced exactly the same problems 10 years earlier. British Courts were administering approximately £4.7 billion of ‘client’ assets and the divorce ‘industry’ was worth around £20 billion per annum in fees.

Addendum – 13th Nov 2013, initial statistical reports indicate a 9% drop in private law cases brought using Legal Aid, as measured between Oct 2012 and Oct 2013. This is thought to be the first effects of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012” (LASPO), introduced in June 2012 which denies legal aid in certain family court matters.

In a 300-page report published on Dec 11th 2006, family breakdowns (inc. divorce), caused ‘social problems’ costing more than £20 billion a year (see The Times, Jenny Percival, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article667633.ece ). stras_11_a

If one of the underlying assumptions at the time of the 1969 Divorce Reform Act was that the inability to divorce and re-marry lead to an increase in illegitimate births then that myth was dispelled in the following years as births outside wedlock dramatically increased from approx. 50,000 to 250,000 (Fig 11A).

The ease with which state benefits were widened, deepened, made available to the unmarried, and single motherhood made politically acceptable during the 1980s led to a significant increase. Indeed, it became politically incorrect to criticise ‘single motherhood’ in any form, publicly.

Unnoticed by much of the population a technical but far-reaching change was introduced in this period whereby ‘benefits’, which had always been based on ‘contributions paid’ in by claimants, were replaced by payments based on perceived ‘need.’ Thus, those that had never paid into the system (teenage mothers, single mothers and their children, etc) gained most.

As the following graph displays (Fig 12), the unit cost, as measured by Treasury Expenditure, rose dramatically over the years between 1970 and 1997 – mainly benefits to children yet the number of child decreased. This graph is not adjusted for inflation and when it is, as in Dr. Patricia Morgan’s analysis, the increase is still significant. stras_fig12The year 1976 is highlighted due to the introduction of the Finer Report’s recommendations that state benefits, e.g. ‘Child Benefit’ etc, should be paid to all mothers – not just married mothers. The societal relevance of the above (expenditure and illegitimacy) can be found in Prof. Lawrence Stone’s marriage and divorce trilogy using historical records found at Lambeth Palace.

Similar social changes were happening in other countries with comparable consequences as the graph below (Fig 13) shows (Percentage of Births to Unmarried Women, 1980 – 2007).

stras_13There are many interesting comparisons in the above graphic, none more so than Holland and Britain. Holland with smaller population than the UK has nonetheless seen a 10 fold increase in births to unmarried women (4 to 40), whereas Britain has seen only a 4 fold increase (12 to 44). The key factor in that SLMs in Britain are numerically much larger in comparison to Holland.

The Table below (Fig 14), is a 2004-based ‘national population projections for the UK’ (and its constituent countries, e.g. Scotland). It depicts the trend from 1945 to 1990 with the actual family size for women who have children, rather than those who might in the future have children, falling from 2.42 in 1945 to 2.24 in 1990. stras_14In the 1970s birth rates tumbled according to ONS data. At the same time, abortions were increasing.

Once restricted to married women and for medical imperatives it was evolving into a form of delayed contraception. In a given year, if we add back the annual number of abortions, i.e. 190,000, to the number of ‘live births’, i.e. of 646,000 per annum the combined total of 836,000 births per annum would equal the numbers born in the 1950s (i.e., 1959) and restore the 2.4 children per family ratio.

This trend of fewer children per family has only been exacerbated in the years since 1990 with average family sizes plunging below the critical Population Replacement level of 2.1. Presently it is spiralling downwards to 1.75 in 2011 and may go lower (Source: ONS Population Trends 118, Winter 2004, and see also Population Trends 109, Autumn 2002).

The picture, if anything, is more depressing than the 1.75 would indicate (see Fig 15/ ‘Figure’ 1 below). This is because the picture reflects an aggregate picture of Completed Family Size units and includes single women who usually have smaller families, and immigrants who conversely usually have slightly larger family sizes stras_fig15then the indigenous population. The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is the average number of children a hypothetical woman would be assumed to have.

The catastrophe for Britain, in common with other EU nations, is that since 1981 the CFS trend has dipped below ‘Replacement level’, and that since 1961 TFR has also collapsed. Arguably, though both began declining in 1961, TFR has stabilised at 1.75 since 1981, and that 2011 has been equal to CFS trend line. However, this hides something that has been identified by Norway Statistics, namely, that the majority of population increase, and this affects CFS and TFR, has been Third World immigration. See below. Collateral damage resulting from a falling TFR and CFS, can be seen in the state pension schemes whose viability is seen as being threatened.

From 2002 onwards the panic over the so-called ‘Pensioner Dependency Ratio’ gained momentum. The Spring 2004 edition of ‘Population Trends’

stras_16 (page 11, Table 4), shows the ratio between those of working age (16 – 65) and those of pensionable age (over 65). The ratio was constant from 1981 to 2002 at approx. 3:1 (36m v 10m 2002), as Fig 17 demonstrates. In 2026 this is expected to be 39m v 13m and by 2031 38m v 15m (33% and 40% respectively). stras_17

Prior to the banking collapse of 2008 this was a ‘manufactured’ panic in that sufficient fund would still be available to pay pensions even at the 2.5: 1 ratio in 2031. It is invariably forgotten that Pensioner Dependency Ratio in 1900 was 14:1 and fell to 3.5:1 in 2000. Despite this 100 year decline, pensions were still paid and even increased. By 2040 this ratio is projected to fall to 2.5:1. The projected decline in this age-based support ratio is not only less steep than recent history but it should have come as no surprise. Men of the ‘baby boom’ years i.e. circa 1947, will, in the main, live only 10 to 12 years after retirement and so will cease to be an extraordinary drain on the government backed National Insurance Fund (NIF) by 2022 – well short of the alleged ‘difficult’ year of 2038 or 2050. The Table below (Fig 18) shows selected years including some adverse opening balance events, such as 1993-94, and how quickly the fund bounced back, i.e. the opening and closing balance in 2000.

Stras_fig_18BEven when the opening balance is perilously low – as in 1993/94 at £3,577,000,000 – there was still sufficient liquidity to fund a higher level of claimants that year at £44,318,000,000. The inclusion of payments to Northern Ireland (from “the Troubles” starting in 1970 to the ‘peace process’ ending in 2000), is just one example of the many ways all governments siphon off money from the NIF to finance other activities.

If there is a pension danger it will come in the form of women particularly divorced and separated women. They will have paid less into the National Insurance Fund but draw our more. They will live for, say, 25 years after retirement at 60 (2007 + 25 = 2032), and even 10 years ago represented 90% of all beds allocated in residential care home.

The majority of these women will cease to be an extraordinary drain on the NIF by 2032. So after 2022 the demand on the NIF should have almost halved and by 2032 when most women will have come to the end of their lives, it should have reduced by close to another half. The worst case scenario at present seems to revolve around figures for the years 2020 and 2038.

In the 1990s Population Trends (ONS) published the following ratios (Fig 19), under the heading ‘Pensioner Dependency Ratio’. stras_19Accepting that the Pensioner Dependency Ratio indicates the number of working people required to finance state pensions of the elderly, this is to accept the unsophisticated nature of present day criteria. No regard has been given to the increasing amount of work that will be done by robots and the assumption is that only living ‘human beings’ will be taxed in order to fund pensions. Indeed, we are beginning to see this shift in the so-called “Green Taxes”. Predictions of a crisis in state pension schemes due to the ‘baby boom’ generation (born circa 1947) beginning to make claims (at age 60 for women, and 65 for men), ignores the natural progression of rising productivity (Mullan 2000):

  • “On present trends the worker in 2041 will be the equivalent of more than two workers today” – (Catalyst 2002: 10).

This will mean modest improvements in state pensions are immediately affordable without increasing contributions because of the NIF surplus. Mullan’s conclusion is still achievable but only if the current banking and lending crisis is overcome – and it will also only be achievable when Starbucks, Amazon, Vodaphone and a host of other billion pound turnover companies begin paying their fair share of taxes.

E N D

Footnotes:


[1] See “Belgians like their shared parenting laws” http://motoristoppression.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/16/ and “Dutch, at 70% go ‘shared parenting mad’ ” http://robertwhiston.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/39/
[2] Prof Lawrence Stone “Road to divorce. England 1530-1987” (Pub’d 1990).
[5] For example: Belgium 10½ million; Portugal 10¾ million; Greece 10¾ million; Switzerland 8 million; Germany 80 million; France 65 million; Holland 16 million.
[6] Children and Families Bill 2013.
[7] Source – Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA), Department for Education and Skills (DfES), Department for Trade and Industry (2004), “Parental separation: children’s needs and parents’ responsibilities” Cm 6273 TSO . Available at: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20040722013944/http:/dfes.gov.uk/childrensneeds/docs/DfesChildrensNeeds.pdf
[9] ONS ‘Population Trends’
[10] Law Commission’s ‘Supplement to Working Paper No. 96’. by J. A. Priest and J. C. Whybrow (Pub 1987) (abridged version http://robertwhiston.wordpress.com/2008/10/12/12/ ).Full version http://lawcommission.wordpress.com/1986/10/01/00001/
[11] a) Based on a 2008 ‘Gingerbread’ report written by Victoria Peacey & Joan Hunt and funded by the Nuffield Foundation. b) “I’m not saying it was easy: problematic contact after separation and divorce.” Peacey V and Hunt J (2009).
[12] See CAFCASS Annual Report, and ONS Judicial Statistics versus ‘Child contact with non-resident parents’ (2004) and “Caring for children after parental separation: would legislation for shared parenting time help children ?” (May 2011).
[13] See Appendix G.
[14] Co-authored with legal experts Solnit and Goldstein.
[15] Dorothy Burlington’s children all suffered horribly under Freud’s therapy which lasted 40 years.
[16] See “Anna Freud: Part 3 – The curse is cast”, (2009) http://robertwhiston.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/21/
[17] “Strengthening families, promoting parental responsibility: the future of child maintenance” – – Green Paper, Dept Work Pensions (DWP).
Posted in Custody, English, Guardianship, PEF, Robert Whiston (Men’s Aid UK), Shared Parenting, Shared residence | 2 Comments

European Parliament leaders strongly support shared parenting

Roberta Angelilli, Vice-President of the European Parliament, was uniquivocal in her October 2013 Strasbourg address.

European Parliament Building, Transcript by Peter Tromp, Strasbourg, October 23, 2013

Speaking at the conference “Facing the crisis of the family”, Vice-President Roberta Angelilli and Carlo Casini, President of the Constitutional Affairs Commission, were whole heartedly behind moves to introduce better child custody arrangements in Europe and pressed for a comparative survey on children custody in all EU states.

Roberta Angelilli, Vice-President of the European Parliament

Roberta Angelilli, Vice-President of the European Parliament

Opening statement [See footnote 1 below] by MEP Mrs. Roberta Angelilli, Vice-President of the European Parliament [See footnote 2 below], at the conference “Facing the crisis of the family in the name of the children: First comparative survey on children custody in Europe” [See footnote 3 below]:

“First of all, good afternoon to everybody. I would like to welcome you to the European Parliament. Welcome and many thanks to the Colibri network and all the partner organisations here today. Thanks for inviting me because in my opinion this meeting today is a very important meeting. It is an important opportunity to stress very strongly the need to protect children often at risk in the event of family tensions and conflicts.

As we all know Article 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union [See footnotes 4 and 5 below] states clearly that every child has the right to have a normal personal relationship and direct contact with BOTH parents. ALWAYS. I would like to underline ALWAYS, also in cases of separation or divorce. I would like to add “ABOVE ALL” in these cases. For this there are many member states that provide for shared custody. If applied effectively the shared custody can bring great benefits to children. But too often however shared custody is just a formal concession without concrete effects. And what prevails is the same old model of exclusive custody to one of the parents.

As we know the definition of shared custody belongs to national family law. So it is not in the competence of the European Union, but in the competence only of member states. This explains the differences in the definition of shared custody and its effective implementation in different national systems.

In my responsibility of European Parliament mediator for cases of international child abduction I know the problem very well. In fact there are additional problems after divorce or separation when parents have different nationalities. These can lead to international child abduction. Obviously there are many international instruments in support of the best interest of children. But, despite that, because of the uncertainty of the applicable law there are conflicts of jurisdiction and insufficient knowledge and awareness of the rights and the duties of binational couples.

This is why I have proposed a “pilot project” with the aim of creating an information tool for bi-national couples on parental responsibility and the rights of children in cases of separation or divorce.

Also on my initiative the European Union has launched a study on cross-border abduction of children by a parent with the aim of analyzing the legal framework at the national and at European level and assessing the practical problems in the implementation and application of existing legislation.

Finally, with others colleagues I propose a written declaration on the protection of the right of children to maintain a concrete relationship with both parents, obviously in cases of divorce or separation.

So I remain at your disposal for all your requests and for working together in the best interest of children. And sorry but in five minutes I must go.”

— END —

Footnotes
[1] Video of the opening statement by MEP Roberta Angelilli, Vice-President of the European Parliament; http://www.vaderinstituut.be/media/strasbourgconference2013
[2] Roberta Angelilli, Vice-President of the European Parliament (MEP for the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), Italy)
[3] Conference “Facing the crisis of the family in the name of the children: First comparative survey on children custody in Europe”, European Parliament Building, Strasbourg, October 23, 2013
[4] Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000/C364/01),
Article 24 (The rights of the child), Clause 3:

‘Every child shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis a personal relationship and direct contact with both his or her parents, unless that is contrary to his or her interests.’

[5] European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) | Helping to make fundamental rights a reality for everyone in the European Union
—————————

The Platform for European Fathers (PEF) wrote to Mrs. Angelilli on January 15, 2014:

RE: Strasbourg Conference Oct 23rd 2013

Dear Mrs. Angelilli,

On behalf of our organisation the Platform for European Fathers – PEF – (see note 1), may I say how we fully support your views on ‘shared parenting’ as they were stated in your opening statement at the Strasbourg European Parliament Building Conference on October 23rd, 2013 (see note 2).

We lament with you that only ‘lip service’ is paid by too many EU member states to the requirements of the EU Constitution in Article 24 (The rights of the child), Clause 3 to address this issue.

What concerns us is this: How forcefull is the European Parliament’s and European Commission’s view regarding Article 24, Clause 3, namely that “Every child shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis a personal relationship and direct contact with both his or her parents, unless that is contrary to his or her interests.” ?

So that we may go forward to press our case in Europe, may we ask for your confirmation that the EU is fully committed to the Fundamental Right that a child is always entitled to contact with ‘both’ of its divorced or separated parents ?
And how can the EU ensure that member states comply and ratify this right (Article 24, Clause 3) ?

In your opening statement in Strasbourg you also made mention of three of your latest initiatives:

  1. Your proposed “pilot project” with the aim of creating an information tool for bi-national couples on parental responsibility and the rights of children in cases of separation or divorce.
  2. Your EU initiative regarding a study on cross-border abduction of children by a parent with the aim of analysing the legal framework at the national and at European level and assessing the practical problems in the implementation and application of existing legislation.
  3. Your proposal, with others colleagues, of a written declaration on the protection of the right of children to maintain a concrete relationship with both parents – obviously in cases of divorce or separation.

PEF would be most interested to hear from you what progress has been made so far on these three initiatives (do you have any concrete information and reference sources), and how may we assist you to advance your views among Members of European Parliament from other EU member states?

Finally, what concrete advice can you give to the Platform for European Fathers (PEF) so that we can better advise parents from the EU who ask for our help ? We have in mind many occasions when the EU fundamental rights your spoke of, are not being honoured by the national courts of EU member states (nor by the child welfare authorities of these EU member states).

What EU institutions and EU ‘mechanisms’ can be best utilised to refer these parents to for further EU support in thease cases ?

We look forward to your reply.

On behalf of the Platform for European Fathers,
Sincere regards,
Peter Tromp MSc
Secretary General of the Platform for European Fathers (PEF)

  • Note [1]: The Platform for European Fathers – PEF – is a child and father focused national charity operating across most EU member states. PEF is particularly concerned that children are being marginalised by legislation and find themselves ‘fatherless’ after a parental divorce which negatively impacts their health and ‘life chances’. The PEF is an independent Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that represents national father, fatherhood and equal parenting organisations across Europe.
  • Note [2]: http://europeanfathers.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/39/

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Roberta Angelilli‘s reply received by PEF, where she underlines the relevance of shared parenting legislation to be derived from Article 24, par. 3 of the EU Charter for Fundamental Rights:

On Wednesday, 29 January 2014 her staff on behalf of Mrs. Roberta Angelilli answered the following in reply to the letter of January 15, 2014 from the Platform for European Fathers (see PEF-letter below):

Dear Mr Tromp,

On behalf of Ms Angelilli thank you very much for your email and your interest in the activities of this office and sorry for the delay in answering you.

Regarding the respect of Article 24, par. 3 of the Charter, Ms Angelilli has stressed in many occasions the relevance of shared parenting, not only in the framework of international child abduction.

For example, she presented a parliamentary question for written answer to the Commission asking an assessment of joint custody at European level.

And there are many written questions that Ms Angelilli has presented on the issue of child abduction involving several Member States.

Indeed, in the event of separation or divorce, what Article 24 states should mean a balanced and continuing relationship for the child with both parents.

From the information available on the website of the European Judicial Network, many Member States have made provision for joint custody, which, if rigorously applied, can be extremely beneficial for the children. However, quite apart from international child abduction, there are very many cases of children born to parents of the same nationality, who, following a separation, no longer have regular contact with one parent.

This is a hidden issue that results in thousands of children losing contact not only with one of the two parents, but also with their relatives on that side of the family.

In terms of safeguarding the child’s best interests, both parents have the same right/duty to raise, educate and support their offspring, with equal status and rights.

- For what concerns the initiatives undertaken, the written declaration on Written declaration on “the protection of the right of minors to maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents, even if the latter are legally separated or divorced” is now closed.

- The implementation of the pilot project is ongoing, the output is expected in March.

- The EP study on cross-border child abduction is also in progress. We should have the preliminary results (principal findings) between February and March.

There are several mechanism for supporting parents in the EU (the Hague Conventions, Regulation 2201/2003 for example), although the definition of joint custody belongs to substantive family law. As such, it does not fall within the EU’s competence but remains under the sole responsibility of the Member States. This explains why there may be differences in the national systems as regards the definition of joint custody and how it works in practice.

I would like to underline that in order to fill existing gaps in EU law application, the European Commission has launched a review of the regulation 2201/2003 and will adopt a report on how it has been applied in practice.

The EP study follows a previous one on ” “the parental responsibility, child custody and visitation rights in cross-border separation” and aims expressly to provide an in-depth analysis of the present legal instruments and should clearly indicate any shortcomings as well as present proposals for improvements.

The study should in particular concentrate on how to guarantee the effectiveness of the judicial cooperation as foreseen by the Brussels II regulation and the Hague Convention.

I hope this will be useful for you.

This office remains at your disposal.

Best regards
Luisa Pecoraro
on behalf of
Roberta Angelilli
Vice Presidente del Parlamento Europeo

European Parliament (EP)

European Parliament (EP)

Posted in 2013, English, EPP-Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats), EU law and regulations, European Parliament, PEF, Platform for European Fathers, Roberta Angelilli, Vice-President of the European Parliament | 2 Comments

Lithuanian Conference – October 4th, 2013

Lithuanian International Conference on “Equally shared parenting and residence after divorce – children’s psychological stability. Legal and psychological aspects.” (Seimas, Vilnius, Lithuania, October 4th, 2013)

On October 4th, 2013 the conference on “Equally shared parenting and residence after divorce – children’s psychological stability. Legal and psychological aspects.” was organised at the Lithuanian Parliament Building” in Vilnius by:

  1. Mrs Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė, chairmen of the Child Welfare Group of the Lithuanian Parliament;
  2. Mr. Kestutis Griciunas, President of the Lithuanian Association Against Parental Alienation (APTA);
  3. Mrs. Birutė van der Weg – Bražiūnienė, founder of the Lithuanian Association Against Parental Alienation (APTA), Netherlands.

The conference has resulted in the establishment of a Lithuanian taskforce preparing proposals for the reform of family law in Lithuania.

Program and PEF contribution

Below is the program of the conference and a picture of the keynote speech presented by Peter Tromp MSc, secretary general of the Platform for European Fathers, at the opening of the conference.

Lietuvos Respublikos Seimas:

Media exposure:

Lietuvos Respublikos Seimas

Tarptautinė konferencija „Lygiavertė tėvystė po skyrybų – vaikų psichologinio stabilumo pagrindas. Teisiniai ir psichologiniai aspektai“(nuotr. Dominykos Staniūnienės).<br />
Dienos nuotrauka -> 2013 metai ->
Nuotraukoje: Tarptautinė konferencija „Lygiavertė tėvystė po skyrybų – vaikų psichologinio stabilumo pagrindas. Teisiniai ir psichologiniai aspektai“.
Pagrindiniai asmenys:
Data: 2013-10-04 – 2013-10-04
Įvykio aprašymas: Tarptautinė konferencija „Lygiavertė tėvystė po skyrybų – vaikų psichologinio stabilumo pagrindas. Teisiniai ir psichologiniai aspektai“(nuotr. Dominykos Staniūnienės).
Įvykio vieta:
Autorius:

Autorinės teisės

© Seimo kanceliarija. Archyvas, 2008  Į PRADŽIĄ       NAUJIENOS       RODYKLĖ       KONTAKTAI       PAIEŠKA       PAGRINDINĖ SEIMO SVETAINĖ

THE PROGRAM OF THE CONFERENCE – Konferencijos programa – APTA

TIME

SUBJECT

SPEEKER

9.00-10.00

Registration of the participants

10.00-10.10 Welcome word Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė, the chairmen of the Child Welfare Group of the Lithuanian Parliament, Kęstutis Griciūnas, the chairmen of the Lithuanian Association Against Parental Alienation (APTA)
10.10 -10.30 Legalization of Equal Parenting after divorce in EU member countries Peter Tromp MSc, child psychologist, the secretary general of the Platform for European Fathers (PEF)
10:30-10:45 Psychological feelings of children and adolescents during divorce of their parents Valija Šap, medical psychologist
10:45-11.00 The participation of psychologists at the child custody cases in Lithuanian courts: future vision and reality Dr. Nomeda Gutauskienė, lector at Mykolo Romerio University, medical psychologist at Child Development Center
11.00: 11:15 Coffee break
11:15-11:30 Possibilities of mediation in family court cases: psychological aspects Dr. Jolanta Sondaitė, lector ar psychology institute of Mykolo Romerio University
11:30-11:45 Parental alienation syndrome (PAS), it’s psychological damage, prevention, diagnostics and psychological help for programmers, children and alienated parents Birutė van der Weg – Bražiūnienė, founder of the Lithuanian Association Against Parental Alienation (APTA), Netherlands
11:45-12.00 Parental alienation after divorce: the result of children’s psychological abuse, the proof and criticism Kęstutis Griciūnas, president of the Association Against Parental Alienation
12:00-12:15 Negative experience in childhood Dr. Robertas Povilaitis, the head of Children’s Line
12:15-12:30

Discussion

12:30-13.15

Lunch break

13:15-13:30 Relocation freedom vs. child‘s interests: it the peace possible? Dr. Gediminas Sagatys, attorney
13:30-13:45 Family relations in the shadow of the fences at detention institutions Živilė Mikėnaitė, the director of Kaunas Remand Prison
13:45-14:00   Children’s right to communicate with non-custodial parent – legal regulation and putting it to practice  Dainora Bernackienė, the head of the Children’s Rights Protection department of Governmental Children Rights Protection and Adoption Service under the Ministry of Social Security and Labor
14:00-14:15     Children’s right to family ties: from legal regulation to practical ensurance Inga Juozapavičienė, advisor of Children’s Rights Protection Control
14:15-14:30 Child support. From parents dis(agreement) to the judgment  Diana Labokaitė, the Judge at Kaunas District Court, the member of  judicial council
14:30-14:45      Children’s relationship with non-custodial father/mother (The practice of foreign countries) Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė, the member of Lithuanian Parliament
14:45 -15:00 The practice of courts judging child custody and visitation disputes Gintaras Putvinskis, attorney
15:00-15:15 Legal aspects of child custody and visitation Dr. Inga Kudinavičiūtė – Michailovienė, lector at Mykolo Romerio University
15:15-15:30 The execution of court orders regarding child transfer and visitation. The bailiff‘s point of view Sonata Vaicekauskienė, bailiff
15:30-15:45 Main child custody reforms Paulius Markevičius, lawyer
15:45- 16:00

Discussion, final arguments, closing

Thank you letter:

Subject: Sincerely thanks

Vilnius, October 8, 2013

Dear Mr. Peter Tromp,

The Association Against Parental Alienation of Lithuania sincerely thanks you for participating in the international conference “Equal parenting after divorce – the basis of children’s psychological stability. Legal and psychological aspects”.

The Association together with Mrs. Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė, Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, are happy to have managed, without any external funding, to organise such a high-level conference that gathered great and distinguished speakers and attracted a wide audience of experts, specialists and people concerned with the topic under discussion.

Thank you for your valuable presentation on shared parenting and support for our ideas. Your presentation got attention of the Lithuanian media ((a) http://www.lrytas.lt/lietuvos-diena/aktualijos/po-skyrybu-vakarieciu-vaikai-gyvena-tai-pas-teva-tai-pas-motina.htm; (b) http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/skyrybu-mesmaleje-atstumto-tevo-patirtis-kokios-ietys-istraukiamos-kovoje-del-vaiku.d?id=62959006), induced discussions and thus helped attract public attention to the problem of the unequal status of parents after divorce.

We believe that this conference will pave the way for a change of the public opinion and, most importantly, a reform of family law.

We are highly interested in further cooperation with you and your organisations and we would very much appreciate the possibility to join the Platform for European Fathers.

We would also like to kindly ask you for the abstract of your presentation which would be of use while drafting the resolution of the conference.

Please find some pictures from the conference attached. Also you can find pictures on the website of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania (http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter/w5_vaizdas.nuotrauka?p_cat_id=104748&nt_id=174092&p_kalb_id=1).

Yours sincerely,

Kęstutis Griciūnas
Marius Zamulskis
Ramūnas Kvietkauskas
Paulius Markevicius
Tomas Markevicius

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