Fathers Let Down By Courts - Senior UK Judge
Fathers are being cut off from their children because the courts have “fallen short”, the incoming head of the UK’s family court has said. Speaking to the annual Families Need Fathers conference, Sir Andrew McFarlane acknowledged that some men felt let down by the court system.
“You are in this room because something has gone wrong for each of you as individuals, in terms of relationships within your family and, further, that attempts that you have made to seek help and achieve redress for those difficulties in the Family Courts have fallen short, no doubt well short, of what you had hoped to achieve,” he said.
The Court of Appeal judge, who will take over from Sir James Munby as president of the family division when he retires next month, said that he had heard “depressing” accounts of the family justice system from fathers. He added that it was “likely to be emotionally harmful” for children to grow up with an “unjustified and wholly negative view” of one parent.
“In some cases a parent can, either deliberately or inadvertently, turn the mind of their child against the other parent so that the child holds a wholly negative view of that other parent where such a negative view cannot be justified by reason of any past behaviour or any aspect of the parent-child relationship,” he added.
He said claims of parental alienation should be tested in the same way as domestic abuse accusations, citing research from the charity Women’s Aid which found that women who raised concerns about abuse were often then accused of deliberately alienating the other parent from the child.
In some situations, the charity found, “allegations of abuse are ‘obscured by allegations of parental alienation against the non-abusive parent’”, he said.
The Daily Telegraph. June 25.