Stop resident parents taking contact away as a form of punishment to non-resident parents

Stop resident parents taking contact away as a form of punishment to non-resident parents

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Lisa Pocklington started this petition to UK Parliament

Time and time again, you see desperate non-resident parents (usually fathers) unable to gain access to their children. Often for no reason, other than the resident parent (usually mothers) are using access as a form of punishment to the other parent for leaving. 

Relationships break down. According to the Office of National Statistics, 42% of marriages will end in divorce. In 2019 there were 1.6 million single mothers in the UK. In every 1000 single parent families, 172 are single fathers. 

I do not know the proportion of these children who do not have regular contact with the non resident parent. However, what I do come across and am suffering with personally, is children being used to bring suffering to non resident parents. 

December 2003 saw the law change so that fathers, even if not married to mothers, were given equal parental rights to their children. However, from personal experience, it seemingly accounts for nothing. When there are legal issues, the mother (or resident parent), commonly mother, is sided with. Having witnessed this, even when the child was in a considerable amount of danger from the mother, the father was not allowed to use his parental responsibility and forcibly removed from the property, by police. Leaving a small child, home alone, with an intoxicated mother. 

Yes, I am speaking from personal experience. However, I have seen this story repeated over and over, by friends, colleagues, strangers. The non resident parent, usually the father, is ignored, removed, cast out, vilified and often threatened with arrest, when all they want is a relationship with their child. 

It is a psychologically proven fact that in order for a child to thrive to its full, emotional capacity, it must, where safe, have a relationship with both parents. Developmental psychology has been studied over and over for decades. The works of Piaget and John Bowlby throughout the 20th century, still very much dictate the framework used today, in child development theories. Two parents work, two parents are needed to create a whole and stable child. 

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is an internationally binding human rights agreement. The convention has 54 articles, 42 of which set out the rights of children and young people. 

These include:

the right to life, survival and development
the right to have their views respected and to have their best interests considered at all times
the right to a name and nationality, freedom of expression and access to information about them
the right to live in a family environment or alternative care and to have contact with both parents if possible
health and welfare rights - including rights for children with disabilities - the right to health and health care and social security
the right to education, leisure, culture and the arts
special protection for refugee children, children in the juvenile justice system, children deprived of their liberty and children suffering economic, sexual or other forms of exploitation. 

Let me draw out a couple of those to make my point clear: The right to life, survival and DEVELOPMENT. 
The right to have their views respected and TO HAVE THEIR BEST INTERESTS CONSIDERED AT ALL TIMES. 
The right to live in a family environment or alternative care OR TO HAVE CONTACT WITH BOTH PARENTS, IF POSSIBLE. 

Human rights. Basic human rights. They are just the rights of the child alone. 
Article 8 of the human rights act states: You have the right to enjoy family relationships without interference from government. This includes the right to live with your family and, where this is not possible, the right to regular contact.

THE RIGHT TO REGULAR CONTACT. 

Time and time again, resident parents use the police to interfere in children’s contact sessions with the non resident parent. My personal experience, so far, in less than a year of the relationship breakdown, the police have responded to 28 allegations made by the resident mother of a two year old child. Allegations against the father, all unfounded. Each time he is told ‘seek a contact order’. 

An initial consultation with a lawyer is starting in the region of £100 plus. These fees can and often do escalate into thousands of pounds over several years. If by luck an order is granted quickly, great, until the resident parent makes more allegations or breaches the order and a lengthy process of returning to court, with more legal fees occurs. Most non resident parents do not have the money to even process a C100 form at £215. 

Let’s say they do have the money, they prove their innocence over allegations, they do everything within their power to gain access, how much of that child’s life has already been missed? How much of the non residents parents reputation has been tarnished, publicly but most disappointingly to the child? 

When are the government going to wake up and realise that this is an issue? That a proportion of suicide rates in men (which is currently a huge government focus- apparently) equate to the breakdown of their relationships with their children? 

At what point do we realise that so many children need the other parent in their life, not for any other reason than it is a basic human right? When are we going to put the rights of our children first? 

I want to see laws put in place that do not cost thousands of pounds or several years to be implicated. I want to see the government and children’s services acknowledge that children are being used as weapons in a dangerous game of punishment and mental torture against the non resident parent, simply for not wanting to continue a relationship that no longer made them happy, or was toxic. 

According to Victim Support: A crime is a deliberate act that causes physical or psychological harm, damage to or loss of property, and is against the law. 

This is cruel, it’s injustice but most of all, it’s child abuse and domestic abuse. 

Please sign my petition and share it. Please do not give up, please recognise the importance of this issue. Please understand that many more people are suffering what I see my brother suffering daily. I don’t want him to become a statistic and I don’t want to see his child become one either. 

Thank you. 

My Kindest Regards 

Lisa 

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