Next President of the Family Division, The Rt Hon Lord Justice McFarlane delivers a keynote address to Families Need Fathers Scotland

Families Need Fathers Press Release

Families need fathers

  • Some 100 delegates concurred that their presence signified that family justice had “fallen short” and continued to be “depressing”.
  • Sir Andrew stressed the importance of fact finding where contested allegations are made and the importance of avoiding delay that prevents the making of arrangements that meet children’s welfare needs.
  • Allegations of parental alienation as much as of domestic abuse need to be “determined on the same basis” Sir Andrew said.
  • The judiciary are to consider whether the time is right for “Early Intervention” and guidance as to what “the norm” might be for child arrangements where there are no safeguarding risks.

On Saturday 23rd June Families Need Fathers, the UKs leading Shared Parenting charity, held a conference on the theme of restoring confidence in Family Justice. The Rt Hon Lord Justice McFarlane delivered the keynote address, tackling issues of domestic abuse allegations and parental alienation and the need to have early findings of fact in such cases in order to meet children’s welfare interests. He also charted a course for the future in seeking input from the judiciary on Early Intervention, contact guidelines and ‘standing temporary orders’ designed to manage expectations and quicker meet children’s needs – because both parents matter and delay in making arrangements is harmful. A full text of Sir Andrew McFarlane’s keynote address to Families Need Fathers is attached.

Jerry Karlin, Chair and Managing Trustee of Families Need Fathers, says:

“The Government has failed in its objective to reduce reliance on Family Courts. They doubled the fees for application, made mediation a pre-condition of such applications and scrapped Legal Aid (other than in cases involving allegations of domestic abuse). The result of their intervention has been a 20% increase in private family court applications in the last two years alone, a 30% increase in Non-Molestation Orders to 25,000 a year – (used in allegations of abuse, which don’t have to be true to obtain access to Legal Aid!) and a sharp decline in mediation. The Government’s well-intentioned, but ill-considered changes to family justice have backfired. They failed to understand the human drivers behind them. Non-Molestation Orders have gone up by several hundred percent since the Legal Aid changes in some districts.

Sir Andrew McFarlane heard from dozens of Families Need Fathers service users at the conference.

Sir Andrew’s recognition of the need to address both domestic abuse and parental alienation is important. His plan to consult with the judiciary on ‘standing temporary orders’ to speed up family justice for children and to manage expectations of parents is welcome.”

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