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Family courts failing to support shared parenting, charity claims

Date:19 JUN 2009

Research released today by child welfare charity Families Need Fathers shows that parents feel the family courts are not doing enough to help them play an active role in their child's lives after separation or divorce.

Of 503 Families Need Fathers members polled, nearly 95 per cent (94.2%) felt they are not adequately supported by the family courts and Cafcass in staying involved with their children following separation from their partner.

Respondents also felt there should be a presumption of shared parenting in law, with almost 95 per cent arguing they should not have to prove they should have a relationship with their child.

Today the charity is launching its 'Shared Parenting - Shared Benefits' campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of both parents being actively involved with their child after family breakdown. The project is funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

As part of the campaign, Families Need Fathers is calling on family law professionals and Cafcass officers to do more to involve both parents wherever possible. The charity is also calling on separated and divorced parents to demand their voices are heard.

To encourage shared parenting, Families Need Fathers has also worked with Cafcass to develop guidance for Cafcass case officers as well as the increasing number of parents representing themselves in court (Litigants in Person). It will be distributed throughout the Cafcass network in coming months and available to download from www.fnf.org.uk.

President of the Family Division, Sir Mark Potter, said: "The Families Need Fathers campaign makes a constructive contribution to the debate on the role of parents in divorce and separation. I particularly welcome the clearly drafted and very helpful guidance for Litigants in Person. It encourages parents to be clear and focused in their dealings with family courts, and should remove unnecessary fears about how people representing themselves are treated there. I hope it leads to real progress."

Parents and professionals wanting information and advice can visit www.fnf.org.uk or call Families Need Fathers' national helpline between 6pm - 10pm Monday to Friday on 0870 7607496.