LEGAL attitudes to fathers maintaining a strong and supportive relationship with their children after separation have transformed in Scotland over the last 25 years but there are still suspicions and institutional obstacles to be tackled – that’s the message from Families Need Fathers Scotland.
Marking the first year of its full time office in Scotland with a presentation to lawyers and other professionals in Glasgow tonight [Wednesday 1st June] Families Need Fathers Scotland says too many fathers and their extended family still have to prove their worth to secure meaningful contact with their children after separation.
FNF Scotland national manager, Ian Maxwell, says: “Sometimes, the obstacles are to be found in the legal procedures or the attitude of professionals themselves who appear to seek reasons for obstructing contact rather than facilitate it.
“It is completely normal for a father to have a full role in his child’s life when living in the same household but the day the parents separate he apparently becomes abnormal and has to win the right to keep doing the sort of things he did the day before.
“It can be even harder if the parents never lived together to prove commitment to your child.”
The FNF Scotland meeting at Glasgow Art Club tonight (Wednesday June 1st 2011) will hear from noted family lawyer, Janys Scott QC, who cites the Bob Dylan anthem, ‘The times, they are a’changing’, to describe the transformation of attitudes over the last 25 years within Scots law to fathers seeking contact or residence.
Janys Scott says: “There have been changes in the law’s recognition of the value of fathers.
“There has been increased acknowledgement in courts of the practical role of fathers. The need for involvement of fathers in decisions about their children has been endorsed. Times have changed. On the other hand, change brings its own challenges.”
Adds Maxwell: “Most of all, we will be explaining wherever and whenever we can that separated parents both have an obligation to stand by their children.
“Children have a right to expect the best of their parents in the years to come. Professionals need to keep a child’s right to family life in mind.
“The law and professional assumptions often lag behind the reality of social change and it is clear to us there are many strong relationships between children and non-resident parents that are frustrated by institutional suspicion.”
Ian Maxwell continued: “We are seeing new faces at our Edinburgh and Glasgow groups at every monthly meeting.
“We are fielding two or three new phone calls every day from individuals seeking advice and support in their battle to secure stable and reliable contact with their children.
“We get calls from fathers, mothers, grandparents and new partners who are often shocked at how difficult it can be to secure stable and enforceable contact with a child if the parent with care decides it won’t happen.
“It is easy for an intransigent parent with care to prolong legal proceedings in the expectation the non-resident parent will give up.
“Sometimes they do through despair and helplessness or when they run out of money. We always urge the parents to work together where possible and put the interests of their children first.”
FNF Scotland opened its first staffed office last summer at 39 Broughton Place, Edinburgh. The Scottish Office for FNF is funded in part by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Families Need Fathers is the UK’s leading Shared Parenting charity and has had members in Scotland since it began in 1974. It presently has active branches in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow and is looking to establish new branches in other parts of Scotland.
For further information about the group meetings in Scotland and the telephone helpline and online forums providing information and support to both fathers and mothers, see www.fnfscotland.org.uk.
Note to newsdesks:
For further information contact Ian Maxwell, national development manager, Scotland. Tel: 0131 557 2440.
Please add Ian to your contacts list for comment on issues related to family contact (mobile: 07887500667).
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Contact: Ian Maxwell
Phone: 0131 557 2440 or 07887 500 667