Schooldays – Best Days of Your Life: Unless Your Parents are Separated and School is just another Battleground.

 

There are 365 days in a year.

Duh! I hear you say – so what?

Well, for most children in Ireland they are required to spend a minimum of 183 days attending school if in primary school (approx. 5/6 years old to approx. 11/12 years old) and 167 days attending school if in secondary or post-primary. (11/12 years old to 17/18 years old)

“Although children are not obliged to attend school until the age of six, almost all children begin school in the September following their fourth birthday. Nearly 40% of four-year-old’s and almost all five-year-old’s are enrolled in infant classes in primary schools (sometimes called national schools). Primary education consists of an eight year cycle: junior infants, senior infants, and first to sixth classes. Pupils normally transfer to post-primary education at the age of twelve.” [1]

Summer Holidays

Schools are required to be open for a minimum of 167 days at post-primary level and 183 days at primary level. School summer holidays are not standardised and schools may use discretionary days to determine the precise start and end of the school year.”

Standardisation of the School Year in respect of Primary & Post-Primary Schools for the years 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20.  [2]

(emphasis added)

“Schools will normally re-open during the week in which 1st September falls. However, the school year may start in the week prior to that in which 1st September falls if this is necessary in order to meet the overall requirement of a minimum of 167 days at post-primary level or 183 days at primary level.

You should check the exact dates with your school.

Easter, Christmas and Mid-term Breaks

The standard breaks at Christmas, Easter and Mid-term in the first and second terms for the 2017/2018, 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 school years are available under Standardisation of the School Year in respect of Primary & Post-Primary Schools for the years 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20,”

In other words, children from the age of about 5 years old to 12 years old spend about 50 % of the year in school – generally from about 8.45 am – 3.00 pm.

From about 12 years old to about 17 years old they spend a little less time in school – about 48%

What is the point here?

Well one of the issues facing fathers separated from their children is when they seek to obtain information about their children from their children’s schools – when they seek to exercise their rights as parents and as Legal Guardians of their children. In some cases, difficulties finding out which school their children have been enrolled in. As many fathers will know, its an old trick to yank your children out of their schools and enroll them, without your knowledge or CONSENT in another school to frustrate, disrupt, impede and prevent you, as a father, having a meaningful parental relationship with your child or children.

List of schools in Ireland [3]

A two-fold problem contributes to what can only be described as the intransigence and obstructiveness of the schools (teachers and principals) and a discriminatory attitude to these fathers, with this negative attitude being initially initiated by the mother and then endorsed by the school. This whole toxic attitude towards fathers being fed by a societal and cultural attitude that fathers don’t matter, fathers are NOT “real” parents, and fathers are to all extents and purposes “nuisances” Fathers don’t have rights, even when their own National Organisation INTO tells them otherwise. [4]

“Q. In a situation where parents are separated/divorced are both parents entitled to receive school reports and attend parent teacher meetings?

A. Each parent has a right to be informed of and to attend parent teacher meetings and to receive school reports unless there is a Court Order in place preventing them from doing so. Teachers should attempt to facilitate separate meetings if both parents cannot attend together, and should generally act in a fair and even-handed way in respect of both parents.”

The fact that the question is even asked indicates the mind-set – does it not?

The second overlapping problem is simple – too many schools do NOT believe that they are obliged to recognize the LAWFUL status of fathers as parents and Joint Legal Guardians of their children. Well one father decided enough was enough and took a case to the Equality Tribunal – and won. [5] and [6]

“The complainant had referred a complaint to the Equality Tribunal as outlined above in respect of the enrollment of his daughter in the school and this case was subsequently withdrawn following mediation. The complainant submits that he was victimised following the referral. I note that the Principal informed Ms. A of this complaint and showed her the documentation. It is my view that the Principals actions served no useful purpose other than to cause friction between the parents and to portray the complainant in a negative way. I am satisfied that this treatment together with the treatment in relation to the sports day and the subsequent request for the Court Orders constituted victimisation within the meaning of the above cited section. I am satisfied that the complainant has established a prima facie case of victimisation.”

(emphasis added)

I strongly suggest you read the judgement, what emerges is evidence of a toxic school environment created, engineered, sustained and fed by the collusion of teachers (mostly female) with alienating mothers.

Another problem identified with regard to boys and schools is that the vast majority of teachers are female – see [7] and [8]

In Ireland, we have the same skewed demographic in our schools. From:

Press Release Women and Men in Ireland 2013: Irish women are more highly qualified and work fewer hours. [9]

Economic sectors: Over a third of women at work in Ireland in 2012 were working in the health and education sectors. Women accounted for four out of five employees in the health sector and three-quarters of those at work in education. The sectors with the highest proportions of men in 2012 were construction, agriculture and transport. In primary education 85% of teachers are female while 68% are female at second-level. However women are not well represented at senior levels: 44% of primary school managers, 41% of second-level school managers and 37% of medical and dental consultants are women. (Tables 2.7, 4.7, 4.8 and 5.14).”

As you can clearly see, in both primary and secondary school’s female teachers outnumber male teachers to the extent that the percentage of male teachers isn’t even worth calculating.

Naturally enough a sideways swipe at gender equality “issues” is included – almost by default. Sigh.

“…….However women are not well represented at senior levels: 44% of primary school managers, 41% of second-level school managers……”

Ye Gods – don’t know about you but am sick to death of this shoite – boo hoo wimmin don’t get the big jobs – sniffle, whine and sob – “I’m not the boss because………………….men are mean”

First, and using the bloody CSO’s own figures – 44% of women are school managers! Eh hello – while not exactly being a math’s genius, even I can see that 44% is only 6% LESS than 50%. In effect, almost PARITY. Almost HALF.

Second – 41%! Pluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuze – again – if it was a meagerly 12% or even say 23% there might – and I mean MIGHT be some cause for a few questions – but 41% – grow up!

What is almost ironic is that contained in the same press release is the REASON for this miniscule disparity

“Irish women are more likely to have a third-level qualification than men. More than half of women aged between 25 and 35 have a third-level qualification compared with just over four out of ten men, according to the report Women and Men in Ireland 2013, published by the CSO today. Men work longer hours than women in paid employment.

Irish women, along with women from France, have the joint highest fertility rate in the EU. Boys are more likely to leave school early. Men have a higher rate of employment but also a higher rate of unemployment. Men are more likely to be in the labour force and those looking after home/family are overwhelmingly female. Most workers in the Health and Education sectors are women while most workers in Agriculture, Construction and Transport are men. Most murder victims are male and the vast majority of the prison population is male. Ireland is the ninth highest among EU27 countries for gender equality.

Employment: The employment rate for men in Ireland stood at about 76% in recent years but in 2009 it dropped sharply to 66.8% and continued to decrease over the next three years to reach 62.4% by 2012. However in 2013 there was an increase in the male employment rate to 64.6% followed by another rise in 2014 to 65.7%. The female employment rate reached 60.6% in 2007 before dropping to 57.6% in 2009 and it continued to decrease over the next three years to stand at 55.2% by 2012. The last 2 years have seen a small rise in the female employment rate to 55.9% in 2014.

Men worked an average of 39.2 hours a week in paid employment in 2013 compared to 31.2 hours for women and married men worked longer hours than married women, with close to half of married men (44.1%) working for 40 hours a week or more compared to just 16.8% of married women. (Tables 2.1, 2.8 and 2.9).

Unemployment: The unemployment rate for men in Ireland was about 5% in recent years but in 2009 it increased dramatically to 15.3%, followed by further rises over the following three years to reach 18.1% by 2012. There was a drop in the male unemployment rate in 2013 to 15.9% and another decrease in 2014 to 13.8%. The female unemployment rate, which stood at about 4% in recent years, also increased strongly to 8.3% in 2009 and continued to rise over the next four years to reach 11.4% in 2013. However the female rate of unemployment decreased in 2014 to 9.9%. The younger age groups have been most affected by unemployment, with approximately three out of ten men and two out of ten women aged 20-24 unemployed in 2013. (Tables 2.11 and 2.12).”

(emphasis added)

My general default response to whiny females complaining about not being the top dog in whatever area of employment is this – STFU – if you want to be in charge, for example, the Taoiseach, The President, whatever – here’s how you do it:

MORE PEOPLE HAVE TO VOTE FOR YOU THAN THE OTHER CANDIDATES!

If they DON’T vote for you then the reason is simple – THEY DON’T WANT TO! GOT IT? GOOD – now STFU.

Anyhoo – moving on.

So, what to do if the school your child(ren) is enrolled in is run by a gate-keeping dragon?

First, while it is reprehensible that a parent, simply because that parent is male has to prove to these witches that he IS a parent, do it.

Step 1. Get your child(rens) birth certificates. If you are or were legally married to the mother of your child(ren) get your marriage certificate as well. Having these is incontrovertible PROOF that you are, Constitutionally and Statutorily your child(ren) Joint Legal Guardian. [10]

Step 2. If you were not married to the mother of your child(ren) the situation is more complex unless you have an Order of the Court grating you Guardianship. [11]

Step 3. Print off a copy of Schools and family law: In Touch January/ February 2004. [4]

Formally write to the school, enclosing copies of the above (do not send them the original of the certs) and request that you be directly supplied with all reports etc with regard to your children. Give them the standard 14 days to comply.

Step 4. I strongly suggest, that you only include a copy of A Father v. A School (represented by Hugh J. Campbell & Co.) File Reference: ES/2013/092. [5] if the school digs its heels in and starts being obstructive.  There should be absolutely no need for you as a parent to be expected to junp through hoops to “prove” anything – nor should you as a parent be put in a position where you have to grovel  or repeatedly ask for information to which you are lawfully entitled to with regard to your own children.

For those you are now up in arms about fathers “threatening schools with legal action” I suggest you read the judgement, and take on board this:

How do think most fathers get to be excised out their children’s lives? Because the mothers of these children TAKE LEGAL ACTION to ensure that this is what happens.

If the same amount of time, money and energy was expended on reaching a Shared Parenting Agreement as is spent on this toxic exercise then these statistics would not be the norm:

The solution is SHARED PARENTING. [12]

“Shared Parenting

Is there a country with a working and effective model of Shared Parenting? Yes – Shared Parenting works so amazingly well in Sweden:

Here are some details from a presentation by Malin Bergström from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

Malin’s powerful presentation showed how Sweden has, in the space of just 20 years, transformed the landscape for shared parenting. She reported that:

approximately 40% of separated parents share care 50:50, higher amongst younger children

the majority have shared care arrangements where each parent has at least 30% of parenting time

shared parenting arrangements continue to grow strongly year-in-year-out

14% of family disputes are resolved  through mediation and above all…

just 2% were resolved through courts!

Her presentation also demonstrated the considerable health benefits to children of Joint Parental Care arrangements.

Her comment on the day was “If one of my friends did not share parenting equally after separation, I would find that weird.”

How quickly can we or rather the more ponderous UK government get there? We live in hope, but the writing may be on the wall.”

Does shared parenting positively affect children? Yes.

There is a wealth of expert literature which repeatedly demonstrates that shared parenting benefits children in a huge variety of ways:

  • ‘…children in joint custody are better adjusted, across multiple types of measures [including emotionally and behaviourally], than children in sole (primarily maternal) custody.’ (Bauserman, 2002)
  • Joint legal custody is not a requirement to achieve better adjustment, but children need to spend a ‘substantial’ amount of time with their non-resident parent. (Bauserman, 2002)
  • Children with non-resident fathers highly involved in their lives have lower levels of delinquent behaviour as adolescents. (Coley & Medieros, 2007)
  • “Children in separated families fare best when they have close contact with each of their parents and all the important adults in their lives, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and family friends. And co-parenting by both mother and father should be the norm, except when issues of safety are involved.” (Layard & Dunn, 2009)
  • “On average, children are less likely to fail at school or suffer depression the more they see their separated father.” (Layard & Dunn, 2009)
  • Children who spend nights at their father’s and mother’s houses have ‘few social problems’ and ‘fewer attention… and thought problems.’ (Pruett et al, 2004)

Bauserman, R. (2002). Child Adjustment in Joint-Custody Versus Sole-Custody Arrangements: A Meta-Analytic Review.  Journal of Family Psychology. 16(1): 91-102.

Coley, R. & Medieros, B. (2007). Reciprocal Longitudinal Relations Between Nonresident Father Involvement and Adolescent Delinquency. Child Development. 78(1): 132-147.

Layard, R. & Dunn, J. (2009). A Good Childhood: Searching for Values in a Competitive Age. London: Penguin Books.

Pruett, K., Ebling, R. & Insabella, G. (2004).  Critical Aspects of Parenting Plans for Young Children. Family Court Review, 42(1): 39–59.

Are fathers just as important as mothers in a child’s life? Yes.

“Fathers are no less important than mothers in a child’s life. The closeness of fathers to their children influences the children’s later psychological well-being, even after allowing for the mother’s influence. If fathers are more closely involved with their children, other things being equal, children develop better friendships, more empathy, high self-esteem, better life satisfaction, and higher educational achievement, and they are less likely to  become involved with crime or substance abuse.”

Layard, R. & Dunn, J. (2009). A Good Childhood: Searching for Values in a Competitive Age. London: Penguin Books.

From the Families Need Fathers website at https://fnf.org.uk/

NB I edited the text slightly without changing the content.

See this by Richard Warshak [13]

“To assess where science stands on the issue of shared parenting and overnights for young children, I spent two years reviewing the relevant scientific literature and vetting my analyses with an international group of experts. This work, published in an American Psychological Association journal, was endorsed by 110 leading researchers and practitioners.

Here are the two main conclusions: First, shared parenting should be the norm not just for children whose parents live together, and not just for older children, but also for children of all ages whose parents live apart from each other. Children need a father, not an uncle-daddy. Second, if we want to give children the best chance for normal relationships with their fathers, limiting fathering time to daytime hours until children enter kindergarten is not the way to do that.

To be sure, shared parenting is not for all families after divorce. But there’s a general consensus that it is good for many of them.

If we value dad soothing his fretful baby at 3 a.m. or reading “Goodnight Moon” to his toddler while the parents are living together, why deprive the child of these expressions of fatherly love just because the parents no longer live together, or just because the sun has set?

Richard A. Warshak, PhD, is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and the author of “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report” and “Divorce Poison: How To Protect Your Family From Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing.”

(emphasis added)

One of the objections to enforcing Shared Parenting as the default presumption is logistical – the “moving children back and forth” argument.

Actually, ALL of the current, legitimate and properly conducted research absolutely endorses Shared Parenting in situations where the parents don’t live together – in effect – a Shared Parenting arrangement IS – In the best interests of the child, which is the mandatorily required consideration to be applied in custody cases:

See Children and Family Relationships Act, 2015 Part V “Best Interests of the Child [14]

63. The Act of 1964 is amended by the insertion of the following after Part IV:

“Part V: Best interests of the Child: Determination by court of best interests of child.

Section 31 (j)

“(j) the willingness and ability of each of the child’s parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent, and to maintain and foster relationships between the child and his or her relatives;”

(emphasis added)

I have emboldened the most important words – bearing in mind this – these words are not aspirational, not subject to whether or not the obstructive parent is “in the mood” to co-parent. These words form part of a LEGAL requirement to be WILLING – and by your behavior and actions to FACILITATE and ENCOURAGE.

So, manufacturing conflict, creating “access” (I hate that word) difficulties, being intransigent, unco-operative, attempting to sabotage, damage or disrupt the other parents “close and continuing relationship” with his child (ren) is something the Court is OBLIGED under the statute take into consideration.

All this broo ha ha about “moving children back and forth” is a smokescreen, a cynical exercise in parental obstruction.  Any reasonable parent, who recognizes that children need both parents as parents can cut the crap, stop creating unnecessary difficulties and make it work – FOR THE CHILDREN.  It’s the attitude of these gate-keeping toxic mothers that is the problem, nothing else.

Let’s go back to the school calendar at the beginning:

Print out a calendar – make out the weeks when the children are in school, mark out the holiday periods and any other special days and sit down like two grown-ups and work out how to share the time as equally as possible between you.

If she’s being a total bitch – do it yourself and present the Shared Parenting Schedule to the Court.

What tends to work the best is one week with one parent, one week with another – if the parents live in reasonable close proximity to one another.

This shoite about kids missing out on friends etc. – this is the 21st century – kids make friends in school – then make arrangements for “playdates” in one another houses. Usually one parent picks the little rug-rats up, brings them home, they go mental for a few hours then their respective parents come pick them up.  Then the host parent has a small nervous break-down.

Or kids go to various activities – usually after school – where they have another group of friends – after this activity the kid is picked up by the parent and home we go.

What the hell is the big deal? What bloody difference does it make if one or the other parent brings the kids to dancing, to football, to whatever it is the child is involved in.

Because here’s the thing – when two parents are together, what happens is this – they each take turns bringing the kids to their activities i.e. you bring them to the swimming pool on Wednesday and I’ll bring them to the football match on Saturday.

Or, little Michael and Michelle need to go to the dentist on Friday after school, I have to go do something so you pick them up and bring them.

NOT A BIG DEAL – is it?

It only becomes a big deal when one parent is determined to excise another parent from his child’s life – then all these normal everyday parent/child things becomes a HUGE deal.

The ONLY reason for creating a big hoo hah over this (bearing in mind the child gets to go to his/her activity and gets to go on playdates with his/her schoolfriends) is the ridiculous need of one parent to “be in charge” of EVERYTHING including removing any possibility of a father having a normal boring day to day parent child relationship – dentist, swimming, football, homework, pizza in front of the TV (only on Fridays 😉) brush your teeth, do your homework, pick up your toys, stop picking on your younger brother, what do mean you need an octopus costume for school TOMORROW – usually announced at bed-time. Normal. Parent. Stuff.

So, working out the “logistics” is bloody straightforward – if you click on the Standardisation of the School Year in respect of Primary & Post-Primary Schools for the years 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 link up above, you’ll note that the school calendar is more or less set till 2020!

You know when the all holidays are for the NEXT THREE YEARS! You know when your kids are in school for the NEXT THREE YEARS.

Summer – 8 weeks – 4 weeks each – options are multiple. 4 straight weeks each. 2 weeks with one parent, 2 weeks with the other parent in any bloody combination that suits both the parents and the children’s summer activities. WORK IT OUT.

Easter – two weeks – simples – one week each.

Mid- term breaks – share them.

Christmas – kids get about 2 weeks holiday – the significant days are, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St. Stephens Day. (Boxing Day in the UK)

Simples –

Year 1 Christmas Eve from 5pm to Christmas day at 3pm.  Parent 1

Christmas Day from 3pm to St Stephens Day at 3pm. Parent 2

Year 2 just bloody swap it around – work out the rest of the holiday REASONABLY.

Shared Parenting is not only workable it is essential – FOR CHILDREN.

MAKE IT WORK.

 

Personal message to women creating conflict and difficulties.

Get over yourselves – stop being a selfish self-centered bitch and put your children FIRST!

To the friends, besties, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers and anyone who knows one of these bitches – shame on you if you are standing by and letting this wretch destroy the lives of these children.

Do something, say something.

 

If any fathers out there would like to share (or publish) their stories, feel free to contact me – I moderate all comments, so just post a comment with a valid email address and we’ll take it from there. If you don’t want your comment published, just say so and I will respect your wishes.

I’m particularly interested in hearing about father’s negative experiences with solicitors practicing in Family Law – one of the things that I would like to highlight is the lack of familiarity certain Family Law Practitioners seem to have with the provisions of the Code of Conduct in Family Law Matters [15]

Or the requirements of Order 59 of the Circuit Court Rules. [16]

 

 

Slainte.

 

 

References

 

[1]  https://www.education.ie/en/The-Education-System/Primary/

[2] https://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0009_2017.pdf

[3] List of Schools in Ireland

https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/Data-on-Individual-Schools/Data-on-Individual-Schools.html

[4] Schools and family law: In Touch January/ February 2004

http://www.into.ie/ROI/InfoforTeachers/ParentTeacherRelations/ParentalSeparation/FamilyLawArticle.pdf

[5] DEC-S2014-018:Equal Status Acts 2000-2012

A Father v. A School (represented by Hugh J. Campbell & Co.) File Reference: ES/2013/092

https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/Cases/2014/October/DEC-S2014-018.html

[6] http://www.thejournal.ie/equality-tribunal-school-discrimination-separated-father-2396939-Oct2015/

[7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8DDbE4I8Ig

[8] https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/eliminating-feminist-teacher-bias-erases-boys-falling-grades-study-finds

[9]http://www.cso.ie/en/csolatestnews/pressreleases/2014pressreleases/pressreleasewomenandmeninireland2013/

[10] https://www.birthsdeathsmarriages.ie/certificates/birth-certificate/

[11]http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/birth_family_relationships/married_couples/guardianship_status_of_fathers.html

[12] https://fnf.org.uk/publications/shared-parenting-research

[13] https://www.statnews.com/2017/05/26/divorce-shared-parenting-children-health/

[14] http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2015/act/9/section/63/enacted/en/html

[15] Code of Conduct: Family Law in Ireland.   https://www.lawsociety.ie/globalassets/documents/committees/family/family-law-handbook-2017.pdf

[16]Order 59 Rules of the Circuit Court http://www.courts.ie/rules.nsf/6cc6644045a5c09a80256db700399505/1cca506f57cc910480256d940064796c?OpenDocument

 

 

In The Best Interests of the Child: How The Courts Get it Wrong. Part 2.

 

There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.

Charles de Montesquieu January 18, 1689 – February 10, 1755 [1]

 

Ostensibly we have laws that purport to treat “…all persons equally before the law…” these laws are enshrined not just in the domestic legislation of common law jurisdictions [1] (Ireland, the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand to name but a few) but in international Human Rights Instruments [2] that are applicable in these individual States and Nations.

But, while it may appear that the protections of the law apply to all persons equally, the reality is different. Part of the underlying problem is, in my opinion, a reliance on assumptions, on myths, on what Dr. Linda Neilsen comprehensively rebutted in her study, (see Part 1). Further, that by default, International Rights Instruments explicitly state, to paraphrase, that children have the right to a meaningful PARENTAL relationship with both their parents, that both parents have “parental equality” by default, and Joint Physical and Legal Custody is the optimum way for parents to exercise those default equal parental rights  – yet,  sole physical custody continues to be granted to mothers, and even in cases where joint physical custody is granted, the parents are still categorized into “the primary carer” and the other or secondary parent with this secondary parents parental status characterised as “access” as “contact” as“visitation”

“My review of 54 studies on shared parenting finds that, independent of parental conflict and family income, children in shared physical custody families—with the exception of situations where children need protection from an abusive or negligent parent—have better outcomes across a variety of measures of well-being than do children in sole physical custody. Knowledge and understanding of these findings allow us to dismantle some of the myths surrounding shared parenting so we can better serve the interests of the millions of children whose parents are no longer living together.”

(emphasis added)

Presumptions, Assumptions and Cultural Language – v – Rights Language.

No doubt, as many fathers have found when participating in “legal proceedings” in particular Family Law proceedings there is a unique language and vernacular used – not only that, there is a distinct method by which decisions are reached – (Ratio Decidendi)[4] but, for many lay litigants (which is usually the case with fathers seeking “access” to their children) this “Ratio” is incomprehensible gobbledygook, legalese and goes completely over their heads.

Part of the reason for this is because (in my opinion) the judicial atmosphere is clouded by the use of presumptions, assumptions and cultural language skewed towards a distinctly female perspective and this dictates the parameters of the judicial decision making process – in other words – the language of Rights, both parental and children’s rights is obscured in favour of taking a cultural framework approach – and – without a doubt, that cultural framework, and its language is informed by a particular ideology that has no place in the decision making process that affects the long term wellbeing, safety, and welfare of children.

The rights of children get subsumed under an ideological toxic cloud of rhetoric and mythologies about “motherhood” that serves only the interests of the person manufacturing that toxic rhetorical cloud and usually her equally ill-informed and ideologically driven counsel. (say no more)

Children’s Rights

The most obvious question is of course – do children have rights?

It might seem and appear to be a ridiculous question, but, when it comes to Family Law proceedings in this jurisdiction in particular (Ireland) and in other common law jurisdictions the default paradigm through which judicial decisions are made is NOT that children have distinct rights as autonomous human beings, but that those rights are and can only be exercised with the consent of and co-operation of a litigious parent, whose very actions in making applications for sole custody and/or limited “access” to the other parent is a stance that quite clearly indicates that the child “in dispute” most certainly does not “have rights’ distinct and separate from that parent.

Giving sole custody to mothers who present as opposed to “access” who seek to limit the amount of real time “access” fathers get to spend with their children, who go to court demanding that the court endorse and sanction them with a “gate-keeping” role in the exercise of a full and meaningful parental relationship for fathers and their children should be immediately presumed as a violation of the fundamental principles of “equal parental rights” enshrined in CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

Article 24 – The rights of the child

  1. Children shall have the right to such protection and care as is necessary for their well-being. They may express their views freely. Such views shall be taken into consideration on matters which concern them in accordance with their age and maturity.

  2. In all actions relating to children, whether taken by public authorities or private institutions, the child’s best interests must be a primary consideration.

  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.

 

Article 7 – UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child)

The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or  her parents.

Article 9

1 States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child’s place of residence.

2 In any proceedings pursuant to paragraph 1 of the present article, all interested parties shall be given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings and make their views known.

3 States Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to   maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child’s best interests.

(all emphasis added)

Mothers who persist in objecting to, obstructing, litigating against “access” should be immediately be viewed as suspect and in particular, being, not only in violation of the above mentioned provisions of law but if either “sole custody” is sought or a “gate-keeping” role in relation to “access” is sought, it should be presumed to be a deliberate intention to breach NOT JUST the parental rights of the other parent (the father) but the children’s rights under the provisions of the above mentioned Instruments.

Unfortunately, the Courts tend to only pay lip service to the concept of children’s rights, and while judges may make a passing reference to “the right of child to ………………., it gets lost under the blanket of toxic ideological fog generally created by the obstructionist, conflict generating, gate-keeping parent – in most cases – the mother.

The Illegitimacy of the Concepts of “Access to”, “Contact with” and “Visitation with” Your Children

Bearing in mind that it is the Right of the Child to “to know and be cared for by his or  her parents….” and the Right of the Child to have and “to  maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis,” I would argue that ANY application by any parent grounded on a curtailment of, reduction of, infringement of the full exercise of those rights BY THE CHILD, is ab initio unlawful, fundamentally flawed and in breach and violation of he provisions of Article 24.3 of CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION, and is in breach and violation of Article 9.3 of the UNCRC.

I would also argue that any application to curtail, limit, disrupt and/or impose conditionality, or to award a “gate-keeping” parental authority to one parent over the other parent is also ab initio a fundamental breach and violation of, in this jurisdiction (Ireland) the provisions of:

Article 40

1 all citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law.

Article 42a

1 the state recognises and affirms the natural and imprescriptible rights of all children and shall, as far as practicable, by its laws protect and vindicate those rights.

 4 1° Provision shall be made by law that in the resolution of all proceedings–

i brought by the state, as guardian of the common good, for the purpose of preventing the safety and welfare of any child from being prejudically affected, or

ii concerning the adoption, guardianship or custody of, or access to, any child, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.

The question is, what is the underlying cultural and societal fundamental hindrance to achieving a just outcome FOR CHILDREN, when their parents no longer live together?

Answer.

Myths about women – assumptions and presumptions presented as a de facto credible basis’ for skewing “custody” to women and “access’ to men.

Bit of an aside here. I took a little look see around the internet to see what the feminists were up to, what was pushing their buttons in the here and now.

Was like Deja vue all over again – same shoite different year.

Housework???? Still whining about housework. Wage gap???? Really? Notwithstanding that this particular myth has been comprehensively discredited. I Have no intention of addressing these issues – they have been more than adequately addressed by other writers and bloggers. Though the housework thing is beyond ridiculous.

I read a few studies – and nope, couldn’t be bothered giving a link – in a nutshell, the impression created was that wimmin were, to all intents and purposes working their fingers to the bone slaving over steaming tubs of water using washboards to do the laundry. Sigh.

Guess what. Two hours ago, I threw a wash into the machine, took me all of 30 seconds, 20 minutes ago, at grave physical risk and danger, I pulled the laundry out of the washing machine and fecked it into the dryer – can hear the dryer from where I’m sitting, at my laptop, writing this.  Though, the 30 seconds it also took to feck the laundry into the dryer has me only exhausted! I may need funding for a support group to be set up so I can “share my feelings” about how random men all over world “oppressed” me for a full minute!

Seriously though.

This language of “oppression” and martyred motherhood” needs to be unpicked, rebutted, discredited – in Court – and on a basic fundamental level.

Yep – I know it sounds nit-picky but think about it – “Primary Carer” being a case in point.

Childhood lasts approximately 18 years (legally speaking that is) – the first 4 – 6 years being what I suppose could be called labour intensive – that is before this putative child goes to school., with the first two years being the most labour intensive. By which stage most children are walking, eating grown up food, possibly starting to become toilet trained. By two years old, the vast majority of children are in a routine – i.e. they go to bed by 7ish pm and they sleep till 7ish am.

In other words, by the time they’re two their routines are predictable, manageable and equally able to be carried out by BOTH or either parent(s).

But, because of the promulgation of the myth of martyred motherhood, Courts continue to give credence to this discriminatory concept of “Primary Carer” based on the notion that there are some magical, extraordinary things that women can do that men are not only incapable of doing but are genetically handicapped (by being men) from ever being able to do.

The biological reality is this – there is only one thing, and one thing only that women can do and men can’t – breast-feed. And any reasonable person will tell you, that breast-feeding is unnecessary beyond maybe 8 – 10 months (babies have teeth at this point)

Conclusion

In order for States that are signatories to the ECFRF (European Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms) the ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights) UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) and on individual domestic “equality” legislation to be IN COMPLIANCE with the provisions of these documents there MUST be a presumption of Joint Legal and Physical Custody of children.

There MUST be a presumption that the child is entitled to a full, meaningful and EQUAL relationship with BOTH parents, with NO CONDITIONALITY other than practical and logistical matters to make co-parenting work with the minimum of stress FOR THE CHILD.

Any parent who creates conflict around implementing a co-parenting arrangement, causes difficulties, creates obstacles should be the one sanctioned – including a loss of parenting time, and in extreme cases – loss of Joint custody, until to be blunt SHE cops onto herself, puts the child’s needs before her own selfish need to be “in control” to “set the rules” to “dictate the parameters of the other parents role” and yes I did use the word “she” deliberately – because it is nearly always “she” who causes, creates and manufactures the conflict.

Family Law judges have allowed themselves to be bullied, to be manipulated, to be hood-winked – and to be blunt – when presented with what is referred to as a “high-conflict” custody case to be emotionally blackmailed by the perpetrator – the mother, invariably.

In effect – absent mitigating factors (real credible and evidence based) Sole Custody Orders are, in my opinion – Unconstitutional, (Ireland) and in breach of the provisions of the ECHR and ECFRF.

TPAC (Toxic Parental Alienation Conflict) perpetrated by one parent against the other parent, the visible manifestation of which ARE these applications for sole custody, ARE applications for restricted “access” for the other parent, constitute sufficient mitigating circumstances to reduce parenting time, and in extreme cases loss of Joint Custody for the parent making these applications.

I draw your attention to the provisions of Section 63 of The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, [6] at ;

(i) where applicable, proposals made for the child’s custody, care, development and upbringing and for access to and contact with the child, having regard to the desirability of the parents or guardians of the child agreeing to such proposals and co-operating with each other in relation to them;

(j) the willingness and ability of each of the child’s parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent, and to maintain and foster relationships between the child and his or her relatives;

(k) the capacity of each person in respect of whom an application is made under this Act—

(i) to care for and meet the needs of the child,

(ii) to communicate and co-operate on issues relating to the child, and

(iii) to exercise the relevant powers, responsibilities and entitlements to which the application relates.

(emphasis added)

 

Part 3: In The Best Interests of the Child: Review of the Case Law.

 

References

[1] Charles de Montesquieu https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/Montesquieu/

[2] http://guides.law.sc.edu/c.php?g=315476&p=2108388

[3] European Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms http://www.europarl.europa.eu/charter/pdf/text_en.pdf

European Convention on Human Rights https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Convention_ENG.pdf

UNCRC http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/crc.pdf

Ireland and the UNCRC https://www.ihrec.ie/download/pdf/ireland_and_the_united_nations_convention_on_the_rights_of_the_child.pdf

[4] Ratio Decidendi http://lib.oup.com.au/he/Law/chew2e/chew2e_BLG2_chapter1.pdf

[5] Irish Constitution 1937 http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/pdf/en.cons.pdf

[6] The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2015/act/9/section/63/enacted/en/html

In The Best Interests of the Child…..Getting it Wrong: A Pyrrhic Victory Creating Conflict to “Win” Custody of Children. Part 1

 

 

How women manipulate the legal system and rely on judicial ignorance, judicial reliance on faulty and unsupported assumptions and “mother myths” to sever, disrupt, poison and damage Father/Child Relationships by creating a toxic conflictual environment, (which for convenience I will refer to as Toxic Parental Alienation Conflict TPAC)I contend that it isn’t the manufactured “conflict” that damages children the most – it is losing their Fathers through Family Law Judges relying on and applying the above mentioned judicial ignorance, faulty research and unsupported assumptions and “mother myths”  in judicial decision making in contested “custody” cases that causes the worst outcomes for children.

In effect – Family Law Judges who make custody decisions “in the best interests of the child” by allowing TPAC to influence erroneous decisions to award “sole custody” to the mothers creating the TPAC and “limited” or “supervised access” to Fathers are entrenching, endorsing and supporting the continuing negative psychological damage being inflicted on children.

How? By giving TPAC mothers permission to continue to cause psychological damage to children BY PREVENTING THESE CHILDREN FROM HAVING A FULL MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR FATHERS.

To reiterate – it isn’t the “conflict” that ultimately causes the most damage to the children – it is losing their fathers.

Which is not to say that that the TPAC isn’t damaging – it is – but there are two negative processes interacting here – children being used as pawns in TPAC, and the RESULT of children being subjected to TPAC – losing their Father – and yes, I acknowledge that mothers have also been the victims of TPAC – but the vast majority of parents being targeted are Fathers.

The Nature of Conflict

It is, for want of a better expression, human nature to disagree with or dispute the opinions, views or positions of other people – we are betimes in conflict with the stated opinions of other people, we express that disagreement and put forward an alternative opinion and/or view. We debate. We argue.

My mother used to say “it would be a boring world if everybody agreed with everybody else all the time” and I concur. No doubt you have all either been involved in, or observed two people in heated exchanges – usually because there is passionate disagreement – if one is unable to convince the other of the validity of your point of view, despite your best efforts, the normal adult thing to do is to “agree to disagree”

On a more mundane everyday level, human life is peppered with small micro disagreements, small incidents of conflict – I want to watch Babylon 5 (Duh!) someone else wants to watch Top Gear (Huh!) ooops – conflict. The solution is glaringly obvious……………for grown ups that is. Get another bloody television.

The point is human life is about conflict, disagreements, disputes, large, small and microscopic – we manage them, we resolve them, usually on the fly and we MOVE ON. This happens in all human relationships – ALL – including parental relationships – obviously some parental relationships are more argumentative, more tetchy, more conflictual than others – but – in the context of those parental relationships, the issue isn’t and shouldn’t be about the level of parental conflict BETWEEN the parents – the issue is – are the children dragged into these conflicts and how do the courts view this “conflict”

There is of course another more insidious underlying process in play – in TPAC the conflict is manufactured, engineered, deliberately instigated, for one purpose and one purpose only – to sever the parental relationship between the child/ren and the targeted parent – usually the father, and the children are manipulated into becoming involved in, part of, and enmeshed in this manufactured “conflict”

The fact that there is “conflict” in particular where one parent is actively engaging in behaviour’s that disrupt, prevent, impede and/or damage the other parents relationship with his child/ren, is actively seeking judicial endorsement of a curtailment of the other parents relationship with his child/ren is, in my opinion an immediate red flag – and should be. Any parent who demands that the Court sanctions and endorses a “gate-keeping” role, authority, position over the other parents relationship with his children is immediately suspect.

I’m going to pause here for a moment for a little aside and quote from Re-examining the Research on Parental Conflict, Coparenting, and Custody Arrangements: Linda Nielsen Wake Forest University: Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 2017, Vol. 23, No. 2, 211–231

Empirical Basis for the Conflict Hypothesis

The assumption that, unless parents have a low conflict, cooperative relationship, the children will fare more poorly if they have frequent contact with their father or if they live in a JPC family seems to have originated from five studies in the 1980s. Twenty five to 30 years ago when these studies were conducted, it was generally assumed that children benefitted most from maximum mothering time while their parents lived together, as well as after they separated. From this perspective, restricting the children’s time with their father would have a less negative impact than exposing them to the parental conflict. The assumption was that, unless the parents had a friendly, low conflict relationship, the more time fathers and children spent together, the more conflict would likely arise. These beliefs are reflected in custody laws which have historically restricted children’s time with their fathers to every other weekend and occasional vacation time (DiFonzo, 2014). The earliest of the five studies (Johnston, Kline, & Tschann, 1989) garnered nationwide attention when cited in Wallerstein’s bestselling book on divorce (Wallerstein, Lewis, & Blakeslee, 2000) to support the view that,

Joint custody arrangements that involve the child in going back and forth at frequent intervals are particularly harmful to children in a high conflict family. Children who are ordered to traverse a battleground between warring parents show serious symptoms that affect their physical and mental health. The research findings on how seriously troubled these children are and how quickly their adjustment deteriorates are very powerful. (Wallerstein et al., 2000, p. 215)

Wallerstein’s books received national media attention for well more than a decade (Kirn, 2012). Prioritizing conflict and recommending against JPC or frequent “visitation” unless conflict was low gained further momentum in books written for family court and mental health professionals (Garrity & Baris, 1997; Hodges, 1991; Johnston & Campbell, 1988; Stahl, 1999). Johnston et al. (1989) was a pioneering study that for many years was misinterpreted and cited as evidence that joint physical custody was only suitable for parents with little to no conflict. Given its longstanding influence and the fact that its author (Johnston, 1995) has expressed regret about how the study has been, and continues to be (e.g., Shaffer, 2007) misunderstood and misused, it merits careful attention.”

NB JPC means Joint Physical Custody.

A summary of Dr. Neilsen’s research is available here and the full text of her research paper is here. Dr. Neilsen reviewed 54 studies conducted over an extensive period of time, including the one quoted from above, which has been relied on extensively to support SPC (Sole Physical Custody) decisions and more importantly, the assumptions that Family Law Judges use and are consistently trotted out to support SPC arrangements – Dr. Neilsens research empirically discredits (in my opinion) ALL previous assumptions in relation to SPC decisions, and the erroneous and flawed thinking upon which those decisions have, and continue to be made with regard to the custody of children.

From:

10 Surprising Findings on Shared Parenting After Divorce or Separation: Linda Neilsen

  1. In the 54 studies—absent situations in which children needed protection from an abusive or negligent parent even before their parents separated—children in shared-parenting families had better outcomes than children in sole physical custody families. The measures of well-being included: academic achievement, emotional health (anxiety, depression, self-esteem, life satisfaction), behavioral problems (delinquency, school misbehavior, bullying, drugs, alcohol, smoking), physical health and stress-related illnesses, and relationships with parents, stepparents, and grandparents.
  2. Infants and toddlers in JPC families have no worse outcomes than those in SPC families. Sharing overnight parenting time does not weaken young children’s bonds with either parent.
  3. When the level of parental conflict was factored in, JPC children still had better outcomes across multiple measures of well-being. High conflict did not override the benefits linked to shared parenting, so JPC children’s better outcomes cannot be attributed to lower parental conflict.
  4. Even when family income was factored in, JPC children still had better outcomes. Moreover, JPC parents were not significantly richer than SPC parents.
  5. JPC parents generally did not have better co-parenting relationships or significantly less conflict than SPC parents. The benefits linked to JPC cannot be attributed to better co-parenting or to lower conflict.
  6. Most JPC parents do not mutually or voluntarily agree to the plan at the outset. In the majority of cases, one parent initially opposed the plan and compromised as a result of legal negotiations, mediation, or court orders. Yet in these studies, JPC children still had better outcomes than SPC children.
  7. When children are exposed to high, ongoing conflict between their parents, including physical conflict, they do not have any worse outcomes in JPC than in SPC families. Being involved in high, ongoing conflict is no more damaging to children in JPC than in SPC families.
  8. Maintaining strong relationships with both parents by living in JPC families appears to offset the damage of high parental conflict and poor co-parenting. Although JPC does not eliminate the negative impact of frequently being caught in the middle of high, ongoing conflict between divorced parents, it does appear to reduce children’s stress, anxiety, and depression.
  9. JPC parents are more likely to have detached, distant, and “parallel” parenting relationships than to have “co-parenting” relationships where they work closely together, communicate often, interact regularly, coordinate household rules and routines, or try to parent with the same parenting style.
  10. No study has shown that children whose parents are in high legal conflict or who take their custody dispute to court have worse outcomes than children whose parents have less legal conflict and no custody hearing.

These findings refute a number of popular myths about shared parenting. One among many examples is a 2013 study from the University of Virginia that was reported in dozens of media outlets around the world under frightening headlines such as: “Spending overnights away from mom weakens infants’ bonds.” In the official press release, the researchers stated that their study should guide judges’ decisions about custody for children under the age of four. In fact, however, the study is not in any way applicable to the general population. The participants were impoverished, poorly-educated, non-white parents who had never been married or lived together, had high rates of incarceration, drug abuse, and violence, and had children with multiple partners. Moreover, there were no clear relationships between overnighting and children’s attachments to their mothers.

My review of 54 studies on shared parenting finds that, independent of parental conflict and family income, children in shared physical custody families—with the exception of situations where children need protection from an abusive or negligent parent—have better outcomes across a variety of measures of well-being than do children in sole physical custody. Knowledge and understanding of these findings allow us to dismantle some of the myths surrounding shared parenting so we can better serve the interests of the millions of children whose parents are no longer living together.

Dr. Linda Nielsen is a professor of Adolescent and Educational Psychology at Wake Forest University. She has written numerous articles on shared parenting research and is frequently called upon to share the research with legislative committees and family court professionals. For copies of her research articles contact nielsen@wfu.edu

So, TPAC creates, manufactures, engineers and feeds the conflict, damaging the children subjected to it, and the Courts sees this “conflict” and award SPC to the perpetrator, the instigator, the manipulator, further causing psychological distress and damage to these already burdened children, and the circuit is complete.

The alienator has achieved her object – destroyed the relationship between the children and his/her father, and basking in the glow of victory, sweeps out of Court with a smirk – the children are……..collateral damage. She won!

Family Law Judges believe they have achieved a “reasonable and just outcome”………………..in the best interests of the child.

Feminists, their twisted acolytes and enablers cheer yet another victory over “the patriarchy” and all’s well with the world, alternatively they pen this rubbish. Sigh. I know.

From: “… HE’S JUST SWAPPED HIS FISTS FOR THE SYSTEM” THE GOVERNANCE OF GENDER THROUGH CUSTODY LAW Author(s): VIVIENNE ELIZABETH, NICOLA GAVEY and  JULIA TOLMIE Source: Gender and Society, Vol. 26, No. 2 (April 2012), pp. 239-260 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.

“In Anglo-Western countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, state interventions to “assist” parents who cannot agree on postseparation care arrangements are informed by the welfare principle, better known by the seemingly simple phrase “the best interests of the child.” As others have pointed out, the welfare principle is notoriously indeterminate; what is in the child’s best interests is open to interpretation and contestation (Boyd 2003,2004,2006; Collier 2006; Coltrane and Hickman 1992; Fineman 1988; Kaganas and Day Sclater 2004; Rhoades 2002, 2006; Smart 1997; Smart and Neale 1999a).

Partly as a result of attempts by a global fathers’ rights movement to reassert entitlements to children, the welfare principle is currently defined in terms of an ongoing relationship with both parents. This understanding of a child’s best interests is associated with a shift to joint legal custody, which accords the rights and in theory the responsibilities of parenthood to both parents irrespective of the nature of their relationship, and the rise of joint physical custody—a situation that includes a wide variety of care arrangements for children, all of which generally involve children spending time in the physical care of both parents.

In Australia and an increasing number of U.S. states, emphasis is placed on equal shared parenting, which entails children spending approximately 50:50 time in the physical care of each parent.

In this article, we treat the intervention of custody law, framed by both custody legislation and the actions of various family law professionals, including judges, lawyers, mediators, psychologists, counselors and social workers, in the lives of separated parents as an instance of the governance of gender (Brush 2003).”

Though one of my favourite quotes from this “research” is this:

“Indeed, Rekha Mirchandani (2006) on the basis of her research on a domestic violence court in Salt Lake City, Utah, claims that state institutions can be transformed into feminist regimes that challenge “male dominance in the home” by undermining men’s prerogatives in relation to their partners and children.”

The irony of the authors use of the words “entitlements” and “men’s prerogatives” has not escaped me, nor you I would imagine.

So, “best interests of the child” is to all intents and purposes the new mantra of Family Law Courts, notwithstanding the authors of HE’S JUST SWAPPED HIS FISTS FOR THE SYSTEM” THE GOVERNANCE OF GENDER THROUGH CUSTODY LAW………etc  contention that “……what is in the child’s best interests is open to interpretation and contestation…….”

“In Anglo-Western countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, state interventions to “assist” parents who cannot agree on postseparation care arrangements are informed by the welfare principle, better known by the seemingly simple phrase “the best interests of the child.” As others have pointed out, the welfare principle is notoriously indeterminate; what is in the child’s best interests is open to interpretation and contestation (Boyd 2003,2004,2006; Collier 2006; Coltrane and Hickman 1992; Fineman 1988; Kaganas and Day Sclater 2004; Rhoades 2002, 2006; Smart 1997; Smart and Neale 1999a).”

Actually – it isn’t – in contention – by legitimate unbiased and responsible persons working in the area of child welfare. But, feminists do so love their vague wishy washy, woozly, “what the hell is she talking about” “research” “I’m just going to pull a load of figures out my ass and present them as legitimate research to support whatever twisted and ideologically driven “theory” I have subscribed to”

Nor, I might add, is it a vague and ephemeral concept in law.

In The Best Interests of the Child…..How The Courts Get it Wrong. Part 2.

Part 2 on Monday.

 

 

 

The First Step Towards Parental Equality? Perhaps

From today’s Irish Times

 

Court says children should be factor in father’s rent allowance

Fiona Gartland

Last Updated: Friday, October 31, 2014, 00:48

A High Court ruling that the Department of Social Protection must reconsider a decision to grant only single person’s rent allowance to a separated father of four could have significant implications for parents in similar situations. (emphasis added)

In a ruling delivered yesterday, Ms Justice Marie Baker found the department’s decision-making process when assessing the man’s application was flawed.

Its deciding officer applied the wrong legal test by assessing only the father’s accommodation needs without having any regard to the complexity of his family relationships,“the accommodation needs of the children when they are visiting their father” and the “intrinsic interconnectedness” of those needs with those of their father.”

(emphasis added)

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/court-says-children-should-be-factor-in-father-s-rent-allowance-1.1982594

 

Let me back track a little here, before we get into talking about the implications of this decision for Irish fathers. I wrote about this case back in May 2014. The short version is this. This man and his wife are separated, he has four children. He left the family home to relocate to Dublin in search of work. While he was unemployed he made his application for Rent Supplement, a state subsidy that allows people to pay for accommodation when they unable to do so out of their own resources. He also applied to his local housing authority, and was subsequently assessed and put on what is called the housing list.

Bear with me.

We now have two separate state bodies involved, the local authority deemed this man eligible for housing and assessed his housing need as being that of a parent with four children, which is what he is.

The Department of Social Protection on the other hand refused to acknowledge this and declared him to be a single person and therefore deemed him to be only eligible for a very much reduced rate of Rent Supplement – the rate of Rent Supplement for a single person in Dublin will allow you to rent a shed in somebody’s back garden, if you’re lucky.

While the local housing authority had deemed this man eligible for housing suitable for a parent with four children, the fact is that there is no local authority housing either available or being built, therefore he has no other option but to apply for Rent Supplement in order to provide suitable accommodation for himself and his four children.

The article I wrote back in May was based on this article in the Irish Independant by Tim Healy.

Mr. Heeley’s article echoes with almost unconscious contempt at the notion that this man should be accommodated on the State’s dime and referred to his children “visiting him” and this is reflected in the original decision by the Department of Social Protection’s dismissal of this man as a parent, and hinges on one factor and one factor only.

He was and is a father, and as such is deemed to be of less worth – as a parent.

Granted this is also a money saving exercise, after all, we are in the middle of a recession and who cares anyway if fathers who are unable to afford accommodation from their own resources are denied this State subsidy?

Fathers aren’t real parents – are they?

How do I know that Mr. Healy can barely disguise his contempt for this man? Look at the title of the article he wrote – look at how he characterises this man’s relationship to his children. His children “visit him”

In effect he is echoing the same disregard and dismissal for this man’s status as a parent that the Department of Social Protection did when they dismissed his application for Rent Supplement as a parent of four children, and insisted on him being categorised as “single”

“Single” is a particular way of describing someone – as in – not married – yet – the vast majority of “single” parents availing themselves of the One Parent Allowance are female and unmarried – Single – but are without question accepted as parents, and eligible for any and all State supports.

The default narrative of parenting that has been assiduously manufactured and nurtured by feminism, has been embraced by huge numbers of women, and has embedded itself into the cultural consciousness of most western states is that, fathers are irrelevant if not downright suspect, unnecessary to a child’s wellbeing and can be easily brushed aside and dismissed in favour of the real parents – mothers.

Ms Justice Marie Baker has now just thrown a spanner into the works; she has acknowledged the importance of fathers, as parents, to their children:

 

“Its deciding officer applied the wrong legal test by assessing only the father’s accommodation needs without having any regard to the complexity of his family relationships,“the accommodation needs of the children when they are visiting their father” and the “intrinsic interconnectedness” of those needs with those of their father.” (emphasis added)

 

But more tellingly she has punctured a concept that has bedevilled and exerted a punitive and malign influence on fathers who have found themselves caught up in family courts – that concept? The “primary carer’ one – where, to put it crudely, possession is nine tenths of the law, and the value of parenting is measured in first, the sex of the parent, and secondly in the hours/days/months that a child is in the “custody” of or if you prefer possession of that “primary carer”:

 

“She found given the joint custody arrangements the children could not be viewed as living primarily with one parent, or having one “primary” carer, as the department’s deciding officer had found. The needs of the children were more complex, had been assessed by their parents as involving joint custody, and could not be met in one location only, she said.” (emphasis added)

 

The judgement itself is not available yet, but before fathers rights activists get carried away, one point should be made. This judgement speaks to this man’s legal status, in effect it acknowledges his status as a parent but does not direct the Department of Social Protection to award this man Rent Supplement in any particular amount. The decision is much more subtle. What this decision does is reject the underlying assumptions about who is or isn’t a parent, and what criteria  are used to make that decision.

Those criteria are informed by even more underlying cultural artefacts, the most significant one being that fathers are only relevant in a subsidiary and secondary category, and cease to become parents officially unless there is a no “primary carer’ (a mother). What is significant also is that in applying the “best interests of the child” criteria in this way involves an acknowledgement that having their father in their lives is in the best interests of these children.

Rejecting the “primary carer” concept is a significant legal point. It is something to build on, a starting point, if you will, to reframe the parameters through which decisions are reached in custody disputes. Once you reject this notion that there is a primary or superior parent and a secondary or subsidiary parent, and embrace the concept that both parents are equally necessary and equally important in the lives of their children, then the emphasis shifts (hopefully) onto accommodating those children’s needs, rather than being swayed by an emphasis on the needs of one parent over another. Let us hope so.

Perhaps one of the most important aspect of this particular decision, not just for this father, but hopefully for all fathers in a wider context is that:

He is a parent in his own right. Legally. That is what this decision directs a state body to acknowledge, officially.

His solicitor Moya de Paor made these comments:

“This has been very distressing for him and for his children, who have also been denied their right to the care and support of their father,” she said.

“The judgment raises significant issues in relation to fathers’ rights as custodians of their children and, in particular, children’s rights to the care and support of their father.”

 

So, what could the wider implications be?

Well, try this on for size, the justification used for the payment of “maintenance” or child support from one parent (usually the father) to the other parent (usually the mother) is invariably the concept of the parent receiving that payment as the “primary carer”

If, one is lucky enough to be within a joint custody arrangement, then this judgement quite clearly rejects that concept and levels the playing field, so to speak, ergo – what justification is there now for awarding excessive unvouched payments, not related to specific child care/raising costs, when both parents have been deemed to be of equal status? Parentally speaking, that is.

 

Just a thought. 🙂

I will post the text of the judgement, if and when it becomes available.

 

Having said that because this case involves the Department of Social Protection and how it applies its criteria for payments two other issues arise.

In order to qualify for One Parent Family Payment one must:

have the main care and charge of at least one child who is residing with them

for person applying for One-Parent Family Payment after 1 January 2009, the person applying for One-Parent Family Payment must be a ‘qualified parent’. A ‘qualified parent’ means a widow, a widower, surviving civil partner, a separated spouse, a separated civil partner, an unmarried person, or a person whose spouse/civil partner has been committed in custody to a prison or place of detention for not less than 6 months, who is a parent, step-parent, adoptive parent or legal guardian of at least 1 qualified child, who normally resides with that person. (Section 13 of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 refers.”

 

http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/One-Parent-Family-Payment.aspx

This is the “primary carer” condition that Ms Justice Marie Baker just shot out of the water by rejecting this concept.

The second issue is this:

Separated/Divorced

For a person to qualify as a separated or divorced person or a person whose civil partnership has been dissolved s/he must:

have been living apart from his/her spouse/civil partner for at least 3 months

have made and continue to make appropriate efforts to get maintenance from his/her spouse/civil partner where civil partner is the parent of the child/ren

(See Appendix 1 for what constitutes “efforts”)

See ” Liability to Maintain Family” guideline for more general information.

 

Unmarried

A person who is unmarried will be required to make efforts to seek maintenance in respect of the child/ren from the other parent of the child/ren. These efforts need not be made at the initial claim stage but continued entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment is conditional on efforts being made to seek maintenance from the other parent of the child/ren. This requirement is applicable to new claims received in the Department on or after 1 May 1997.

(See Appendix 2 for what constitutes “efforts”)

Maintenance

A person who claims One-Parent Family Payment is required to seek maintenance from her/his spouse /civil partner where civil partner is the parent of the child/ren or the other parent of the child. Maintenance payments are assessed as means. Vouched housing costs of up to €95.23 per week (rent or mortgage) may be offset against maintenance payments with half the balance of maintenance being assessed as means in establishing the rate of One-Parent Family Payment due.

 

This could become a huge problem, and it all hinges around this issue of being the “primary carer” particularly if the parents have been or are still legally married to one another. This judgement has in effect nullified the concept that one parent is the primary parent and ergo is entitled to be paid by the other parent for “taking care of” their children. Put rather simplistically, if both parents are deemed to have equal legal standing – then who claims maintenance from whom?

If you cannot claim maintenance, then you cannot qualify for OPFP, if you, like this man can prove that you are equally parenting your child/ren then you cannot fulfil the “primary carer” condition, and again under the current rules, cannot qualify for OPFP.

 

Complicated – isn’t it? Yet at the same time incredible simple.

 

What this judgement has the potential to do is rip to useless shreds the notion that women own their children by default automatically, and men pay.

Having said that, this particular case has no custody issues attaching to it, by all accounts, both the parents here are supportive of one another, but what it has done is expose a weakness in how parenting is seen officially, having relied on that “primary carer” concept to marginalise fathers and make them merely those who pay, or are pursued through the courts for payments to be made to the “primary carer”

 

Ms Justice Baker has rejected the concept of “primary carer” in a non family law case, concentrating solely on the legal status of this man as an equal parent, and more importantly directed this judgement at a State body – the Department of Social Protection – which insists on one parent pursuing the other parent for “maintenance” and insists on an archaic and discriminatory concept “primary carer” in order that a person can qualify for a particular State payment.But, it also impacts on how other State payments are administered, in particular OPFP.

 

This is going to be interesting – and already I can hear feminists and “womens rights” advocates gnashing their teeth and pulling their hair out while they try to untangle this and come up with a counter argument that maintains the status quo.