Voice of the Child - Family Law Research
Who are we?
We're private individuals, not a big research organisation.
What are we doing?
We're working on a research project looking at various aspects of family law and how it impacts on the children involved.
Why are we doing this?
That's a good question. Initially we're building a picture of the landscape around children and current law in the UK. We have been researching aspects of family law and case histories for over 3 years now, but all of that information and research is quite bland when looked at out of context, or buried away in personal files.
What we believe
That the child's long term welfare is paramount to any individual item on the welfare checklist
That a child's wishes and feelings should be heard and considered but should not over-ride any other items on the welfare checklist
That co-parenting should be the norm and the expectation of any separating or divorcing parents.
That a co-parenting plan should replace current child arrangements orders or form the basis for them and should be instituted immediately following separation
That parents have it in them to reach and agree a co-parenting arrangement in the best interests of their children if given the help and support to do so
Our aims are quite simple: we want the organisations involved in Family Law in the United Kingdom to do their jobs properly with the long term impact on children at the centre of their work.
Our researchers are incredibly disappointed with the leadership within Cafcass, with the lack of training and professionalism within Cafcass, and with Cafcass' continued knee-jerk responses to the flaws and failures within their organisation.
Our aim is to provide a public challenge to Cafcass, to shine a light on their flaws, and to openly encourage them to reform their practices in the best interests of children. Cafcass are uniquely placed, their reports are relied upon by the Judiciary, and arguably they could have the greatest positive impact on children's lives.
If only their FCAs would listen and learn.
Gender-based Charities and Organisations
Abuse is gender-neutral. Abusers come from both sides. Coercion and coercive control lies with the person with the power or perception of power. If someone has the ability to control and abuse AND they have the desire to do so then they will do so, regardless of their gender.
Gender-biased organisations rarely release data in opposition to their stated positions. Many self-select evidence and data in order to bolster their position. Confirmation bias is a dangerous mindset.
Gender has no place in this. The children involved could be boys or girls. Does it matter what gender a child is that is subject to abuse or caught in the storm of family law? Of course it doesn't. Children are children. Parents are parents.
We urge them all to be the change that they desire.
Solicitors and Barristers
Arguably the front line in any parental dispute our aim is to encourage solicitors and barristers to be less adversarial or more consultative, working in partnership with parents. We believe that the opportunity presented by Resolution has been squandered in the self-interests of firms and individuals focused on fees and winning at all costs.
We accept that the family law system in the United Kingdom is an adversarial one but we challenge every family law solicitor and barrister to act in the best interests of the children and not the parental client that they are being paid to represent.
We don't know how this could work given the nature of the law. We leave that for better and cleverer minds than ours but we believe that there is a better way.
The Courts and Judiciary
Our aim is to encourage the Courts to recognise the flaws in their system and structure and to better educate the Judiciary on latest research and best practice.
Too many Judges are too reliant on what they're recommended to order instead of remembering that their role is deeper than that.
Our aim is to help educate the Judiciary understand the actual data and evidence behind many of the intractable issues that they are faced with within the Family Courts. Children deserve Justice, not an exercise in rubber-stamping Cafcass recommendations.
We also aim to provide court-based resources for parents struggling with the system in a factual, gender-neutral, and child-focused way. These include resources for use outside of the courts.
Courts should be the final option, not the initial one.
From time to time we run surveys and ask people to take part. If you do take part please rest assured that your data will is only used anonymously.
The surveys themselves will be anonymous, but any use we may make of the data collected will also be completely anonymised so that whatever answers you give and whatever comments you may make cannot, in any way, be connected to you or your family.
We hope that you will take part when you can and that you won't find any of the questions too upsetting.
Longer term ambitions
We have none.
Once the system puts children at the centre there will be no need for us anymore. Our hope is that we can eventually retire quietly and calmly, fading back into the obscurity from whence we came, safe in the knowledge that our children's children will not have to endure what our children have had to.
Help us do that.
Grateful thanks to:
We would also like to extend our gratitude to the individuals who lit the path that we are following. For many years now people from all walks of life have been trying to get to the truth behind the decisions made by organisations around the family courts - they've written thousands of letters to everyone from Cafcass to the Prince of Wales, but they never ever gave up, even when they received reply after reply brushing them off and telling them to go away and bother someone else.
It is their footsteps that we follow; it is their shoulders that we stand on; it is their children that bore the brunt of the system that came before the one we have now.
It is almost certainly too late for our own children but in the words of the Manic Street Preachers:
Monuments put from pen to paper
Turns me into a gutless wonder
And if you tolerate this
Then your children will be next
And if you tolerate this
Then your children will be next
(c) Manic Street Preachers: Nick Jones, James Dean Bradfield, and Sean Moore
Our children deserve better, not just for themselves but also for their own children when their turn comes to enter the family courts.