30th April 2002
>Lord Chancellors Dept
>105 Victoria Street,
>Dear Mr. Tester,
>Further to my letter of March 20th I enclose two examples of news stories
>that bear on the topic we have in hand.
>In the CNSnews article of March 22nd I have highlighted the figures of
>of mothers who interfere, that is to say, thwart or prevent in some way,
>visitation (which in the UK we call contact) by the father.
>The basic themes find reverberations in the Bradshaw & Skinner report
>Non-Resident Parents and the working of the CSA, a reference to which I
>enclose. Their interim University of York paper of a few years ago makes
>data immediately accessible. They too found interference by mothers when
>regime was one of residence by one parent and visitation (contact) by
>If you do not have a copy I can send you a synopsis I compiled shortly
>its release. Bradshaw & Skinners full report, in the form of a book,
>more ponderous and pedestrian than the quick and useful interim report.
>You will also see in the US article that I have highlighted several
>which underline the views we expressed at our March meeting
>Firstly, the conclusion is that Shared Parenting negates the "winner
>Secondly, in the study of 46,000 cases, women assumed they would be
>sole custody and that this was a spur to many women to seek a divorce. An
>effort to overcome this tendency was incorporated into the Family Law Act
>1996. One of the primary reasons for the introduction of that Bill was
>Treasurys realisation that even with the CSA in place, divorce and its
>aftermath was proving to be a drain on its resources.
>Lord Irvine recently put a figure at 5b on the legal costs of divorce.
>However, when other costs are included this rises to over 30b pa.
>Thirdly, when contact (visitation) rights are not interfered with the
>compliance rate for maintenance payments soars. In the American example
>rise form somewhere in the 40% region to over 73%. The consequences for
>federal government in not having to make up the difference, via TANF etc,
>In the late 1990s the US Bureau of the Census reported that the
>rate of US fathers ordered by the courts to pay Child Support varied with
>degree of reliable contact. They were as follows:-
>Joint custody 90.2% compliance
>Visitations rights 79% compliance
>No visitation rights 45% compliance
>In the US, 50% of single mothers saw no value in the father's continued
>contact with his children (source: "Surviving the Breakup", by
>Kelly). Stanford Bravers research found that ". 40% of mothers
>that they had interfered with the fathers visitation to punish their
>ex-spouse" ("Frequency of Visitation", American Journal of
>If these patterns (of mothers not seeing any point in father visiting and
>deliberate efforts to obstruct such visits) were similar to those found
>the UK, it would also suggest similar financial implications that are
>readily visible in the US might also apply in the UK situation.
>The present system of visitation we have in England and Wales means that
>t is promoting a regime where only 45% of fathers can expected to comply
>paying child maintenance (CSA).
>The present system of awarding mother custody places an inordinate burden
>mothers generally. Govt policies and initiatives place an emphasis or
>expectation on mothers to re-enter the labour market at the earliest
>possible date after delivery
>The fear is that this may result in increased incidences of child abuse
>To make women economically independent is to be supported but for single
>mothers it poses the greatest of dilemmas, namely balancing work and
>capacity with the time commitment that proper and essential care of a
>requires. Discharging this obligation would be more practicable if the
>burden of being the sole child carer were lifted and shared between both
>parents. For many mothers the option of paying for nursery care places is
>economically beyond their means. By sharing the time and financial
>the current escalating financial burden on the Exchequer would be first
>begin to be offset and then later to decline.
>The present situation cannot continue without drastic modification, if
>root and branch reform. We are past the point when fine-tuning will have
>beneficial results we all seek. It may therefore prove helpful to
>adopting a more pragmatic approach that has been found to work well for
>We are all very conscious of the recent Damilola Taylor case and of the
>Prime Ministers concern about teenage crime. By utilising existing
>and findings, practices in the UK can be compared in terms of the
>implications for not only for Whitehall departments, the Treasury and the
>judiciary, but the impact on children outcomes as they progress into
>The continuing presence of a father in a childs life even after divorce
>the surest guarantee, statistically speaking, of lowering crime rates.
x Tester lcd reason for shared parenting –
Help Children? Stay Married
Dianna Thompson, CNSNews.com Commentary, March 22, 2002
and child-welfare advocates agree: Too many children don't have fathers in
the home, and too many single-parent households live in poverty.
The phenomenon comes as no surprise to many, recognizing the high rate of
divorces in the U.S. -- more than 50 percent last year alone. For those
children left with one parent following a divorce, approximately 50 percent
of mothers "see no value in the father's continued contact with his
children after a divorce," writes researcher Joan Berlin Kelly in her
book Surviving the Break-Up. This finding was echoed in American Journal of
Orthopsychiatry report Frequency of Visitation by Divorced Fathers: "40
percent of mothers reported that they had interfered with the non-custodial
father's visitation on at least one occasion, to punish their ex-spouse"
A 1996 Gallup Poll showed that 79.1 percent of Americans believe "the
most significant family or social problem facing America is the physical
absence of the father from the home." In fact, numerous studies have
children who grow up without a father face more troubles than their peers who
live with both parents do:
90 percent of all homeless and runaway
children did not have a father in the home;
70 percent of juveniles in state-operated
institutions come from fatherless homes;
85 percent of all incarcerated youths grew
up without a father;
63 percent of youths that commit suicide
had absent fathers.
These children's woes do
not play out exclusively in their homes and schools, but in their communities
as well. Businesses suffer from decreased productivity and economic losses
when families divorce. The Ohio Psychological Association states that there
is a greater loss of productivity in the workplace as a result of child
support and custody issues than in issues concerning drugs and alcohol
More than 1.1 million couples divorce each year, and most of those couples
have children. At the same time, our country faces a record number of births
to unwed mothers, 1.3 million babies in 1999 alone, accounting for one-third
of the births in the U.S. The decades of "disposable fatherhood policies"
have left hundreds of thousands of women and children poorer, and at greater
risk than ever before.
More than 30 years after the beginning of the sexual revolution, we now
witness the destruction of families, in removing parents from the lives of
their children, and in the disintegration of our nation's family values.
The greatest evidence of this breakdown in family values can be found in our
nation's family courts. A year 2000 U.S. Census Bureau report found that
mothers gain sole custody in more than 80 percent of custody battles,
stripping millions of fathers who have done nothing wrong of their
constitutional right to the care, custody, and nurturing of their own
This reality has spawned social stereotyping of divorced fathers as deadbeat
dads, Disneyland dads and others.
Clearly, we don't have a lack of mother participation in this country. What
we do have is a crises of dads who are being deadbolted out of their
children's lives, both through state policies that routinely deny fathers
shared visitation and by welfare programs which require child support checks
flow through state agency coffers. All too often, there is little left after
state agencies take their reimbursement for food stamps and welfare payments,
leaving a minuscule check for the divorced mother. In such cases, mothers get
the mistaken impression that the fathers of their children do not care
because they do not financially contribute to their children's lives.
A year 2000 study by economists Margaret Brinig and Douglas Allen analyzed 46,000
child custody cases to find out why women file a majority of divorce
petitions. What they found is that women filed in the expectation of
obtaining sole custody. "Children are the most important asset in a
marriage, and the partner who expects to get sole custody is by far the most
likely to file for divorce," Brinig stated. Brinig and Allen's research
points to a need to shift away from a "winner takes all"
presumption in child custody statutes.
When non-custodial parents have equal visitation, compliance with child
support orders increases to 73 percent, according to the an October 2000
report by the U.S. Census Bureau. While sometimes geographically difficult,
shared parenting allows children greater access to both parents while also
ensuring a greater financial and emotional support than would exist in a
Despite any court-ordered solution to obtain parity in parenting, the best
solution remains to stay married, if not for the sake of marriage vows, then
for the children. Even so, we must recognize that divorce will certainly
remain a widespread social ill, and we must seek family-friendly legislation
that favors shared parenting. In the end, our greatest challenge remains not
what we can legislate to affect the lives of others, but in our own efforts
as individuals to keep our own families together.
Thompson is a nationally recognized expert on families and divorce-related
issues. She serves as executive director of the American Coalition for
Fathers & Children <http://www.acfc.org/> .
fyi - Dave
From: len <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 2002 13:39:46 +0100
Subject: lbduk: Want to Help Children
Frw fyi from CNSNews.com
x Tester LCD – proposed
letter basis – why shared parenting is better ie/eg costs less.
support: The British fiasco. Bradshaw, J., & Skinner, C.
(2000). Focus, 21(1), 80-86.
In this article, the authors discuss the failure of Britain's 1991 Child
Support Act, some new
propositions for overhauling the system, and the prospects for the future
based on recent studies of
the situations and attitudes of separated parents in the United Kingdom.
The Child Support Act was
unanimously passed in 1991 as a response to "moral panic" over the
decline of the family and other factors related to the rising number of
single parents and the inefficiency of the existing child support system.
The CSA failed largely
because it overturned long-settled court and informal agreements, did not
benefit children receiving Income Support (public assistance), and used a
formula for determining support awards that was complex and rigid.
As a result, delays and
backlogs, inaccurate assessments, and lack of enforcement caused a general
breakdown in the relationship between separated parents and the child support
system, and non-compliance was epidemic.
In 1998, the Labour
government proposed a system based on a simpler formula, income disregards
for Income Support families, and tougher enforcement. The authors here
present a study of 600 fathers, surveyed about their relationship to the
child support system, and find several problems with the Labour government's
First, the study shows
that the system often exaggerates non-resident fathers' capacity to pay.
Non-resident fathers were much more likely to be young, unemployed,
uneducated, or working for low wages than resident fathers. Also, under the
1998 proposals, non-resident parents will be expected to pay more than they
are currently paying, especially the poorest. Another important finding was
that non-resident fathers do not necessarily feel a moral obligation to
support their children financially. They often feel that they should only
have to pay if they are permitted to see their children, which they see as
power held over them by the child's mother.
Generally, fathers do want
to fulfil their parental obligations of social, emotional, and financial
support, but are reluctant to provide one without the others. In this way,
the CSA failed to impose a morally-based law on families who had their own
feelings on the extent to which they should be responsible for their
children. The authors maintain that more research is crucial before
implementing a new system so as not to make the same mistakes as before.