Family Law Awards 2020
Shortlist announced - time to place your vote!
Court of Protection Practice 2020
'Court of Protection Practice goes from strength to strength, having...
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance Tenth Edition
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance is an authoritative specialist text...
Latest articles
Book Review on Cohabitation: Law, Practice and Precedents (8th Edition)
It is 27 years since Denzil Lush first produced this book, some subsequent editions of which one has had the pleasure of reviewing for Family Law, and which, for some reason, does not figure as much...
Re AC (A Child) [2020] EWFC 90
(Family Court, Peel J, 11 December 2020)Private Law Children – s 8, Children Act 1989 – Inheritance - Jurisdiction Whether court had jurisdiction to authorise the mother to accept the...
Second reading in the House of Lords of the Domestic Abuse Bill
The Domestic Abuse Bill received its second reading in the House of Lords on 5 January 2021. The committee stage, where the bill will be scrutinised line-by-line, does not yet have a confirmed date....
Remote hearings in family proceedings – how is justice perceived?
The motion for the recent Kingsley Napley debate:  “This House believes remote hearings are not remotely fair” was carried with a fairly balanced 56% in favour and 44% against....
How the care system should change - a child’s perspective
The Children’s Commissioner has published a new investigation into how children affected by the care system would like the current system to change ahead of the government’s planned...
View all articles

Young Lawyers - Kate Gomery: Happy Fathers Day?

Sep 29, 2018, 18:26 PM
Slug : KateGomery21062011-632
Meta Title :
Meta Keywords :
Canonical URL :
Trending Article : No
Prioritise In Trending Articles : No
Date : Jun 22, 2011, 10:40 AM
Article ID : 95059

Kate GomeryThere has been considerable reaction to the Prime Ministers comments about "runaway fathers" made to coincide with Fathers Day this year. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Mr Cameron called for such men to be "stigmatised" and the "full force of shame heaped upon them".

Obviously I can't defend all fathers (and wouldn't want to) but the majority of my current clients are fathers and I feel that the PM's comments unfairly casts many of them in a role which they have not chosen to be.

Despite all being fathers, my clients are a mixed bunch; there are fathers who have sole care of their children, fathers who have primary care of their children, fathers who want to see their children but can't because the mother wont let them, fathers who don't see their children because they're in prison and fathers who want to see their children but the Local Authority or the courts have stepped in to prevent contact.

The approach of the courts, if it comes to that, is that a child has the right to have contact with both parents unless there are good reasons to the contrary. Those reasons put the emotional welfare of the child first and tend to be invoked most often where there has been a history of domestic abuse or drug and alcohol abuse. In the publicly funded work I do, one or all of those reasons are nearly always present. The court process does allow for parents to demonstrate their commitment to changing their lifestyles, and I refer back to my previous piece on the importance of engaging in the services offered.

Sadly, it doesn't always work out. Only recently I had to advise a father to withdraw his application for contact. The client understood that the reality of his situation, particularly his failure to address his criminal lifestyle and drug use, meant that until he could make the necessary changes there was no realistic prospect of persuading the Court it was in his child's best interests to have him in his life.

If separated parents are able to reach an agreement between themselves involving the children, then of course that is preferable to legal action, but the reality of relationship breakdowns means that will not always be the case. I have a client who, despite a messy breakdown in his marriage, has fought hard for over two years to see his children when their mother relocated to the other side of the country. He uprooted his life so he can now see them on a fortnightly basis. It took a huge amount of effort and a contested application through the courts to get the contact he wanted and I hate to think that had he been unsuccessful, or not made the huge sacrifices he has done, our PM thinks that he should be stigmatised and treated with hostility.

It will be interesting to compare the PMs view on the importance of having fathers involved in their children's lives when it is revealed what cuts to public funding in family cases are proposed in the Legal Aid Bill due imminently.

Mr Cameron's states the Government has a responsibility "to do what we can to bring fathers back into the lives of all our children". Without access to legal advice and representation those fathers who already struggle to have contact with their children will only find their prospects diminished yet further. 

Kate Gomery has recently qualified as a family law solicitor. She works at Heaney Watson in Liverpool where she is exposed to all types of family law work but particularly publicly funded family law cases. Prior to qualification Kate spent several years doing general crime and then serious fraud work.  She trained at Pannone in Manchester.

Categories :
  • Articles
Tags :
Provider :
Product Bucket :
Recommend These Products
Load more comments
Comment by from