And when did you last see your father?

Baroness Deech

There have been conflicting stories in the press this week about how and whether the government intends to change the law in order to ensure that both parents see more of their children after divorce.  Some reports said that there would be introduced a legal presumption of equally shared parenting; others that it would not go this far but that there would be encouragement of equal access, or visitation rights.

In the Family Justice Review 2011 the proposal that England adopt the shared parenting law as applied in Australia was rejected, because reports from Australia indicate that judges found it difficult to apply and divorce cases there were dominated by decisions about how much time each parent would be entitled to see the child. The Review concluded that the courts here should continue to apply the principle of the paramountcy of the welfare of the child.  It is often reported that 40% of children lose all contact with their fathers after divorce.  Lobby groups for separated and divorced fathers blame this on the law; other studies indicate that even where fathers are granted legal access, they simply fail to show up when the children are expecting a visit.  As the divorced fathers make a new relationship with another woman, who may have her own children, they distance themselves from their children of the earlier relationship. Wherever the blame lies, there is no doubt that children suffer from the loss of a father after divorce, and that over 100,000 children fall into this category every year. There are probably more because this takes no account of children affected by the breakup of parents who are not married but cohabiting or were always single.

This relates to my post Against my Will, where I repeated my objections to attempts to make the law of marriage apply to cohabitants who do not want to or cannot marry.  I heard recently of the growth of a new practice by men, nicknamed the “Hugh Grant” syndrome.  That is, they take care not to marry or live with the mother of their child, or girlfriend, because they fear that once married or cohabiting, their assets are vulnerable to the law and that a split will expose half of their property and income to transfer to the woman.  (It could be the other way round where the woman is wealthier than the man.) They see maintenance law as unfair and so uncertain that its application by lawyers will in itself cost thousands of pounds.  Maintenance law has become a field where women with well-off husbands seek someone to fund the litigation in return for a cut of the proceeds. This is a really bad result for the children involved.  The solution is not to apply the existing unfair and uncertain marriage law to cohabitants, but to simplify the existing law and make it fair to men and women in a society where women can and do earn a living and where, sadly, relationship breakdown is all too common and unsurprising.

12 comments for “And when did you last see your father?

  1. Gareth Howell
    04/02/2012 at 9:13 am

    This is an interesting thread, put forward by the Baroness.

    “Australia indicate that judges found it difficult to apply”

    The fact that judges found it difficult to apply probably means that it is worthwhile, that gung-ho judgements are the worst.

    There are no golden rules about whether children are better or worse off from the loss of seeing their father(or mother) regularly, many children finding excellent
    substitute fathers in other childless men.

    The problem may then be that people who own their own homes, but also have low morals, may then resort to insult tactics when other men or women offer to take the place of the
    father, outside a school environment.

    The Hugh Grant syndrome is one to be watched, the predilection ,in recent years, of all men and women having their own individual monastic “Cell” style of living
    has a lot to commend. Any’s the number of times when I hear of

    “Dad lives just round the corner so I go round there when Mum’s in a bad mood, or my sister’s being stroppy or my brother threatens to beat me up!”

    With regard to the rights of modern women, the way some modern women liberated women ,ake a calculated and eliberate choice of parent for each individual child takes some beating, and that may be the way of the world, that if she wants to choose the father, then she is also choosing her own liberated and responsible way of life. Sh earns a living and the state says her employer must continue to support her for up to a year and take her back when she is “done”!

    That is freedom, but do her sons still lack a Father? They go out and find one, at the youth club, the scout hut, the choir, a….n…y…. organization where there is a man with enthusiasm and the courage….. to organize the blighters!

    Equally does a girl who lacks a mother, do the same, differently? That is far less frequent.

  2. lawrencevanrijn
    04/02/2012 at 9:29 am

    I grew up in the Netherlands. There, from my youth i remember an advertisement in the newspaper. It was placed by a man, who cursed the Dutch government because he was not allowed to see his children. Yes’ statistically I agree that the fathers tend to be the lesser parent. I myself always believed that it took two to tango. How does this relate? Well, first there is the maintenance law. Yes, support should have been given, but in this day and age? I reckon that Sydney and London have somewhat comparable costs, and when we consider that rent takes close to or more then 50% of the expenses, then it seems clear that any maintenance verdict will be a financial death sentence to both parents, and the children end up paying the price. 
    So is there blame? The parents should not have married? The divorce should not have been allowed? There is real solution in this day and age, but perhaps changing the maintenance laws to only apply to the children might change the current isolation of these children. It might also send a message to current and future parents that divorce is not a fix. Perhaps this solution would empower a new level of communication between married couples.

    • Gareth Howell
      06/02/2012 at 3:26 pm

      It might also send a message to current and future parents that divorce is not a fix.

      I think the baroness will probably agree that the principal assets of the relationship are the children themselves and their ability to earn a good living, be reliable members of the community, but when you consider the possible life time earnings
      of the individual children, and the harm that may be done to their school and college prospects, then they really should think twice about the life long commitment formed, when entering in to the contract of marriage and usually children, that hopefully arrive soon after, and the divorce which so often happens soon after… that!

  3. MilesJSD
    04/02/2012 at 10:16 am

    Please accept this Forenote
    giving my intention to include the following underlying, overarching or overlapping Topics,
    concerning Marriage, Procreation, Individual Human Development, Sustainworthy Workplace and Lifeplace Budgeting, and Progressive Participatory Democratisation
    (and thereto, constitutional, legislative, social, religious, and spiritual factors)

    (1) the possibly Constitutional need for separation of Biological parenting from ‘Social’ parenting;
    (2) the need for further and wider research and evaluation of ‘multiple-parenting (of each child)’
    ……viz small ‘closed’ communities wherein neither the mother nor the father knows who is the biological father, and wherein the mothering is ‘shared’ between willing & able womenfolk;
    (3) the possible additional wisdom of having a live-in or regularly-visiting professional consultant;
    (4) the need for greatly improved individual-human-development & sustainworthy-collective-living skills;
    (5) the evident need for both pre- & post- marital/parenting educational-qualifications,
    ……and training in personally-efficient living (qua becoming able and willing to live healthily, citizenlike, and environmentally-supportive, off just one-human-living per person);
    (6) the evident Need for progressively Participatory-Democratisation training and integration (possibly could be included in (3) or (5) above ?) ;
    (7) the need for clarifying (and in many places ‘de-polluting’*) the terminology we have to use hereto, in Sense (on-the-ground-action) on the one hand, and in (verbal) Meaning on the other (e.g. “wealth”, “creation”, “right”, “need”, “win-win-win-win-win-win-win” … );
    * see “Edward de Bono’s Thinking Course” (BBC 6th Imp 2010)

  4. maude elwes
    04/02/2012 at 3:49 pm

    Baroness Deech has a big one with this little number. It is very important in every way. It is the future of this country that is being addressed here. And the big problem lies in the lead up to the situation we have, which has been brought about by lack of wisdom or indeed, any compassion for either sex in these matters.

    There is no doubt about it, children need a father just as much as a mother. Of course the gift from each experience is different, it would be pointless if it was not. They have every ‘right’ to a father and their mother must be pesuaded to embrace this fact, whether or not she feels she has been let down or betrayed by the man who is a blood relation to her baby.

    It is too complicated to use this blog to get into the true issue here. Except to say, that just because a woman feels she will always be there for her child, ‘she’ is not enough.

    It is really a pity I cannot write here about issues I have first hand experience of, but, I will out this. Courts are often wrong in their decisions.

    Take a family I know, where had the father not fought in the courts for his son, over a four and half year period, that son, who is now a man in this thirties, would be without family at all. The same as his half sister now has no one. The mother died of cancer at thirty six, and her precious lovers had long left her, even though she put them first, over her children. And had this woman’s son not had a father, who was put through torture, to continue a relationship with his only child, have given up. That same son would not and could not have been the man he is today without the care, dedication and concern of his father.

    The real issue is, women are being encouraged from a very young age to resent, and misunderstand, the mating ritual. And idealism is way off key. You have to learn to give to get. And to get a father for your child is not simply a matter of being available in the bedroom.

    More responsibility has to be placed on both sexes, right in the beginning, before they get to puberty.

    Meanwhile, children who have a father around at all are in a winning position. Especially if he is caring enough to go out on a limb and fight for the right to be known to them.

    The law should not take this away, except in the most horrendous circumstances. And even then, the child has an expectation to know who he is. For it is a big cog in who they are.

    Even the despicable, Abel Magwitch, was a direct benefit to Pip, and he was no blood relative, was he? Without him, Pip, could not have had Great Expectations.

    • Twm O'r Nant
      07/02/2012 at 1:25 pm

      to get a father for your child is not simply a matter of being available in the bedroom.

      But being available on the end of an e-mail communication with him living round the corner or two doors away, possibly with another partner or another two partners.

      It takes all types but the baroness may have a fix on such a traditional form of family life, that it really is not worth talking about.

      I wish to contribute to this topic and its overarchging, underlying and overlapping governing or influencing Matters;

      Not again please! Nutter!

      • maude elwes
        08/02/2012 at 12:07 pm


        I am not really sure what is is you are addressing here? Are you suggesting I should consider family life in a society that welcomes multiple females with one male, as in polygamy? And then carefully consider if this would be an asset to our western civilization and culture? Perhaps multiple males to one female would be more sensible, as the family would then surely thrive financially, wouldn’t it?

        To study that one all that is needed is scrutiny of Lord Bath and all his little wifelets. Now did that damage his children? If not why not? What was it that made his lifestyle acceptable to those around him and those who worked for him or with him? Did his children have a hard time of it emotionally? And how is it society didn’t shun him? Was it his money and position? I don’t think so as other ‘lowly folk’ are just as embraced by their community, or, are they? And that is how to be rid of it, if society wanted to be.

        However, any of those answers do not explain why his family would have been better off without him being known as the father, or his partaking in the life of his offspring. Would they have been better off not knowing who he was, or not having him in their life in a practical and physical way?

        If women wish to be involved in multiple relationships, then one has to consider what is the reason they feel this would make them happier than without it? Why would they give up what most women view as peace of mind in monogamy for something as elusive and insecure as this?

        It always, without fail, goes back to the innate make up of the male/female psyche and what is most fulfilling in that matter and therefore satisfying to both sexes.

        And there lies the basis of contentment for us all. The human psyche drives us, and if that part of the self is discontent, then we will be forever searching. And as we have got further and further away from the natural order of family life, the more we become disorientated and confused.

        Political experimentation and the idea that human beings are open to all kinds of manipulation, without consequences to society, is only found in the workings of a Frankenstein mindset to be achievable. And on the whole we have been led into a cultural demise by the kind of thinking you have hinted at in your post.

        European and Western progress was at its most effective when we collectively followed the pattern of ‘family unit’ father/mother and offspring, along with extended family in that order. And this is because it gives the ultimate source of security to enable offspring to freely explore their potential without constant fear of abandonment.

        Yes, I do know it is an ideal. But it is an ideal that has yet to be bettered.

  5. MilesJSD
    04/02/2012 at 8:05 pm

    I wish to contribute to this topic and its overarchging, underlying and overlapping governing or influencing Matters;

    including that the whole future survival and thrival of our Human Race is at stake

    which must surely influence and probably determine how this Child-Development & Welfare, and Parental-Contact question therein, is comprehended and resolved;

    but my key “Forenote” list of such Matters (submitted just after lawrencevanrijn’s this Saturday morning)
    is not being published.

    In which case, I shall have to publish these suppressedf Matters on one or more my three non-profit ‘Earth Citizenship Promoting’ websites
    (which are being attacked and undermined by Internet competitors, profiteers, and disrupters)
    beginning with
    (and not stopping at my registered
    http://www.needshowsrightswrongs (not .com) website either)

  6. maude elwes
    09/02/2012 at 8:54 am


    This morning we hear in the news that more children than ever are now being taken ‘into so called care’ in this country than ever before as a result of neglect. Emotional or otherwise. And that this increase is since the horrendous abuse by the state and the parents of the little boy Peter Connelly.

    But the situation is much bigger than put forward and this is where I become sickened by government and the officials that rule over us.

    The politics over the years through all parties is for women to stand alone, go out to work instead of their men and increase that number as I write. Pushing for and using the example of Sweden. What a joke that is.

    Of course, the neglect and abuse of children on an ever increasing number couldn’t have anything to do with the demoralization of the female and her role in the family, could it? No don’t dare raise that ideology, it may undermine the women’s movement. Those wonderful gels in their masculine roles that fought so hard for our emancipation will be offended. Feck the rest of us who want to be happy in our female skins and stay close to our children, we are the backward lot who are wanting to be slaves to men, who then walk all over us.

    Have any of this lot in government pushing for this crap ever been to Sweden and lived the life those sick women live in that country of the suicide rate? Those who fight for a man at any cost and want to force him to bow to their satisfaction or be charged with rape in the middle of consensual sex, if he won’t commit to emasculation. Think the playboy Julian Assange, that is the female led progressive society we here are now to aspire to. Whilst we sit and do our nails in the boardroom, minimum twenty five per cent.

    Too many women in government is a big mistake for a nation who does not want small minded and narrow thinking effeminate males as suitors.

    Wake up England. House husbands do not lead to a free society. Quite the opposite. Women are more controlling on personal freedom level than any man. And I am a woman, so I know what I am talking about.

    Oh, and don’t bother to liken me to an Uncle Tom, as it doesn’t wash. I don’t feel in the slightest bit guilty or ‘afraid’ at speaking the truth. So put that in your pipe and smoke it as you go about your daily chant.

    The worry here is, that men seem so ready to accept the removal of their masculinity for no other reason than they think they will be less likely to have to pay to keep their women and children out of their own pocket. Think again if you believe that one.

  7. 09/02/2012 at 2:19 pm

    Most reasonably minded people would agree that children living with two loving parents is the ideal and should the parents’ relationship breakdown that an ongoing relationship with two co-operative parents is second best. However, I don’t think we should be too negative about children of separated parents.

    According to Michael Lamb (Cambridge University) the long term outcomes for 70% of children of separated families is much the same as the long term outcomes of 85% of children whose parents stay together. Other research indicates that the major factors associated with poor outcomes of children from separated families are parental conflict, poverty, distress of the parent with the majority of care and multiple changes in the family structure rather than the absence of a parent per se.

    I don’t see why there shouldn’t be limited rights for co-habitants to protect those who are vulnerable and their children when someone committed to the family and are disadvantaged by the relationship. Co-habitant rights don’t need to be the same as matrimonial rights.

    As a woman who paid maintenance to my ex-husband I did what the law required just in the same way as I pay tax. The reality is that the majority of women with dependent children take career gaps or work in lower paid part time and/or inflexible jobs to accommodate child care. Without maintenance when the family separate many of these children would be left living in relative poverty some of the time with one parent and living or staying in relatively luxury with the other parent the rest of the time. That cannot be right.

    • maude elwes
      21/02/2012 at 5:26 pm

      I had written a post I felt was extremely pertinent to this matter, suddenly it disapeared, after it had first been accepted, and never to return again. So I felt this little study on the reality of parenting in our society today and, more importantly, the impact of one parent families, should be taken far more seriously, I decided to take the bull by the horns and add a somewhat long winded piece about what is going on here.

      Page forty five, under ‘Sexual Liberation’ is the start of what is important to this thread. It covers the downfall of society in this situation and its devastating impact on children. Which successive governments support and condone by every move they make. Brainwashing us into believing family is not important in the order of life. That sex and the more variety you get with multiple partners is the way to go. Along with independence and the idea that family is not a modern requirement. Women and chidlren don’t need men is the mantra. So set them free to dip their wick without any sense of responsibility. That way women can have that feted career whilst some other inferior perdonn can substitute for them on every level.

      Time for an ernest rethink here. And an attempt at a greater understanding of what we are doing by abandoning our children en masse. As well as selling our human condition so pitifully cheap. It is not simply affecting children, this is radically affecting us all in every aspect of our lives.

  8. Gareth Howell
    22/02/2012 at 3:11 pm

    Brainwashing us into believing family is not important in the order of life.

    Taking the pill for ten years and then having to get IVF treatment is not brianwashing but the implications of it are so great it might seem like that.

    Women and chidlren don’t need men is the mantra

    They do but I can only presume that the noble Baroness’ theory, subject to her interest in the “wisdom” of LDS + SLC/Utah is that matrimony does not have to be a dove like fidelity for the whole of life, or even very much of it provided a nuclear family is there all the while.

    Divorce court judges when they have to make judgements, are surely influenced by the wisdom that she has not enunciated here but probably supports, that of a non integrated family unit, bur one that has a nucleus, and various atomic particles spread around it in some way. We learn more about nano-science by the day, and how to deal with a divided family too.

Comments are closed.