world is a circle with out a beginning and nobody knows where it really ends
four years ago at the Cafcass Talks what did we want and what
should have been.
- Set Training manual with set
procedures and treatment for family abnormalities such as PAS
- Reasonable contact times for
the non custodial parent (as little as one day a week)
happened at the Cafcass talks was all was scampered (no change just carry on
screwing us as normal)
happening all over again the Cafcass Pilot Family Resolution Scheme has
been derailed by Maggie Hodge the minister for children, well I for one ain't
working on magpies farm no more.
have at last the wisdom of retrospect in all of this who's fault is it that
this keeps happening. (us and only us)
no real agreement or policy at all between all the men's groups as to what
would change things for the better, within the smoke screen of F4J it is said
like a magicians magic formulary that a new law will change things.
is it will always centre around Cafcass as they are the vessel of the Judgement.
when the I painted the Portsmouth Cafcass door I got screwed not only
by my own family solicitors Churchers and the Portsmouth Courts
but by F4J itself.
remember Linda writing to me and stating during the proceedings last summer
that children have a far more mature outlook on this then the members of
the fathers groups and boy is she right.
talking to Angela last night and she told me that most of her
single mother friends are going out night clubbing at the weekends picking up the
men and taking them home with them so the mothers children are constantly
seeing different men sleeping in their own mothers bed every weekend,
what effect can this be having on the children?
book I guess that Margaret Hodge has read on this by the way she is acting is
Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.
book I read on the subject is Scott Bradfield's Animal Planet.
the break out from London Zoo began to happen after the Cafcass talks at
the grand judges meeting at Bath.
but true and that is the way I view it.
biggest hope that I have from caterpillars to butterflies is that
one day all the men's groups will have a set agreed planned policy on
Caffcass role in all of this, then and only then will things begin to change
and so please therefore blame no one but ourselves in all of this.
weather forecast for Portsmouth is that purple rain clouds are looming
Mr Oliver Cyriax
New Approaches to Contact
Family Resolutions Pilot Project
Thank you for your letters of 5 May to Bruce Clark
and to me, following our meeting on
29 April. I found our discussions very helpful and I think it might be
useful if I give some more detail here about the context of the Family
Resolutions Pilot and its aims. Some of what I say will inevitably cover
aspects of what we discussed and areas outlined in my letter of 6 April.
Both Margaret Hodge and Lord
Filkin are committed to taking forward
the Family Resolutions Pilot Project. This commitment is in the context of
the Government's response to the recommendations set out in the Children Act
Sub-Committee's Report "Making Contact Work'. The Project aims to help
separating or separated parents reach agreement about contact and residence
for their children, without needing formal family court proceedings. The
pilot phase will test the effectiveness of a range of measures including
information and advice and parental co-operation sessions. Since our meeting,
Bruce Clarke has again spoken to Lord Filkin and the minister has reconfirmed
his support for the Family Resolutions Pilot Project.
In designing and implementing the project,
ministers fully understand the importance of drawing on the experience and
lessons learned from other jurisdictions. Undoubtedly a great deal of good
work has been done in the UK
and elsewhere in this area and it is very important we do not work in
isolation. In particular, the Project is drawing on the recommendations of
the ad hoc group chaired by District Justice Nicholas Crichton.
The project will promote good quality contact
while, through screening and risk assessment, it will safeguard children from
the risks of domestic violence, abuse and the adverse effects of their
parents' conflict. The pilot will provide well presented relevant information
and skills guidance in planning for co-operative parenting, as well as further
support in reaching agreement.
However I am sure you can understand if I take this
opportunity to underline that the pilot and subsequent national rollout will
be operating in the context of the current statute law, as interpreted by
case law judgments. In practice, this means relying on the current assumption
of contact that has been established through case law, rather than developing
new presumptions in the statute law. Therefore, the pilot will be
based on the current principle, as set out in the Children Act 1989, that the
child's welfare will be the paramount consideration. In this context, it is
the quality of contact between a child and his/her non-resident parent rather
than the simple quantum of contact that is the more important issue. Further,
it is a key aim of the project to encourage parents to step back from the
adult conflict and focus exclusively on the needs of their children.
Therefore, the project cannot advocate a structured programme along the lines
proposed by "New Approaches to Contact", in terms of specifying,
from the outset, the quantity of contact. This focus on quality ahead of
quantity will feature in the planning session(s), where both parents will be
expected to work together to draw up their own plan for co-operative parenting.
These plans will, of course, need to be flexible across time, as parents will
need to adapt and develop them to reflect changing circumstances, such as
their children growing older and becoming more independent.
I realise that discussions during the past year
have frequently referred to "Early Interventions" and the "Florida
model". This in part came about through the significant interest about
what happens in Florida and our
references to the recommendations of the ad hoc group chaired by District
Judge Nicholas Crichton. However the title "Family Resolutions Pilot
Project" was chosen to emphasise the key principle of parents continuing
to work together in the best interest of their children, even if the adult
relationship had broken down. Also, changing the title from "Early
Interventions" acknowledges that although the intervention may take
place early in terms of Court-based intervention, it is probably not at all
early for the families.
As I mentioned above, we are very conscious of the value
to be gained from looking at what other jurisdictions have done and this
Zealand, EU countries, the "Florida"
model and the US
generally. The pilot will include an independent review of court based
interventions in other jurisdictions, with a clear account of the evaluation
and monitoring undertaken. The pilot has no in-built assumption in favour of
an already existing model.
Director, Safeguarding Children Group
- the element of
quantum has been removed from cases about quantum
- quantum will not be
a relevant factor when assessing how much contact there should be
- cases about quantum
will be assessed on the quality of contact
- no indications can
or will be given to parents on what appropriate levels of quantum are
The purpose of a contact application is to rule on
the appropriate level of quantum.
It is to be presumed that:
- if the quality is
deemed good, there will be no need for more contact
- if the quality is
deemed bad, there should not be more contact
- if the quality is
deemed indeterminate, there should be no more contact while the case is
- quality will be
assessed on a subjective basis according to nebulous criteria
- successive cases
will be assessed on nebulous but different criteria
will be made on the basis of fleetingly-observed child-parent
interaction or inferred child-parent interaction
The FR system may operate as an incentive to
offer low contact until (and after) the quality of contact is deemed
adequate. As applications can - presumably - be defended on what is
said to happen during contact, there may be additional incentive to
find fault with the non-resident parent's conduct or bearing.
Considerations of child welfare, over and above what is said to happen during
the designated period of contact, are presumably
The content of the pre-court machinery (information,
skills guidance, planning sessions, risk assessment) will
presumably focus on quality of contact.
on the Children Act 1989
The general statements known to the NATC on the
Children Act's private law provisions are:
"New orders are introduced to reflect our
emphasis on encouraging parents to participate fully in the child's
The Minister introducing the Bill, 27 April 1989, Hansard
"The Children Act 1989... seeks to encourage
both parents to continue to share in their children's upbringing, even after
separation or divorce"
Document, Parental responsibility, Lord Chancellor's Department, March 1998,
p 13, para 42
underlying philosophy of the Children Act is that parents have a shared
responsibility for the upbringing of their children even after the parents'
relationship has broken down. This reflects the Government's belief that
children generally benefit from a continuing relationship with both
Rt Hon The
Lord Irvine of Lairg, 8 May 1999 (ref MC/99/10/1)
The DfES Project is the
diametric opposite of the NATC Early Interventions project said by the Minister
(on the basis of information received from his civil servants) to be under
development: "The Early Interventions project which was developed by New
Approaches to contact NATC and others is being developed and taken
forward" (29.4.04 DCA/CEP). Eight of the nine members of the
DfES Design Team have no knowledge of the EI project and have had no dealings
with the NATC (the general knowledge of contact issues may, in addition,
The DfES Family Resolutions
project was said, at the time that funding was obtained by the DfES, to be
"broadly similar" to the NATC EI project. The DfESFamily
Resolutions project had not been announced or discussed prior to the
publicised official receipt of the EI project. It seems that the Family Resolutions
project was not the subject of a formal proposal as a specified project.
The Family Resolutions
Project is said to be a DfES project and not a CAFCASS Project; the most
recent CAFCASS guidelines affirm in their entirety: Heading 6.5 (‘Quality
Counts Most - not Quantity’) “What counts is the quality of a child’s
relationship with the parent or family member, not simply the amount of time
they spend together. Quantity is only one measure of quality.” [CONTACT PRINCIPLES & GUIDANCE:
Progress (Feb 04, ref BK, 7 pp)].
The CAFCASS author of this
statement is on the DfES Design Team. The author of this statement
appears to be responsible for mistaking the EI project for its opposite and
presenting EI to government, inverted, as a project developed by CAFCASS. The
CAFCASS (BK) statement on quantum is the only known supplement
to CAFCASS's assertion that: "CAFCASS does not currently have
guidelines in relation to the amount of time a child should spend with a
non-resident parent, nor does it have detailed written-down guidance on the
factors to be taken into consideration on time based
recommendations" (3 April 2002, CAFCASS/ DRC). The
point of every CAFCASS welfare report is a time-based
recommendation. CAFCASS is the institutional embodiment of the opposite
of the NATC Early Interventions project.
The NATC EI project
has support from the High Court judiciary, the Family Law Bar
Association, the 03/04 Chair of the Solicitors Family Law Association,
parents groups, mediators, the cream of the profession generally and, perhaps
most important, support of the child development specialists.
facts are that the NATC EI documentation submitted to the DCA and
DfES has not been seen, not been read and cannot be found.
The Family Resolutions
project is due for implementation on 1 September 2004 as a prelude to