Here I try to help fathers who just want to be fathers. To this end, I give opinions on how to best deal with the Family Courts of England & Wales, under the Children Act 1989 (as revised up to 2018) but in relation to only part of that Act. I do not, for example, deal with financial disputes, property settlements, divorces, Public Law actions by social services, or anything to do with newly-defined-in-law parenthood resulting from medical intervention or same-sex marriage. International Law on children and other issues dealt with by the High Courts are briefly referred to but I will not cover these topics in detail.
My book is primarily aimed at fathers forced to seek Child Arrangements Orders in the lower Family Courts. I will briefly touch on criminal law, but I give no advice at all on how to pursue injunctions and other court orders against those who do violence or sexually abuse a child or parent. I don’t believe these crimes should ever be dealt with by a Family Court, whose processes are too puny to render such serious matters any sort of justice. That these types of case are allowed to be heard in Family Courts is a cause of widespread exploitation of the system, and results in systematic injustice. Instead, I will deal with how a father may defend himself from false allegations made by a woman, something which is rife in the Family Courts and in society at large.
While this work falls under the general heading of a self-help book for litigants-in-person, it is different from others on the market. The author does not make a living out of other people’s misery, and is not wedded to a legal system that feeds him. In short, I am not a lawyer. This fact should also be a warning, for while everything has been checked, things printed in these pages can still be wrong, especially in the use of technical words. The English language is a capricious thing. A phrase that means something extremely precise to a lawyer can mean something very general and different to the average person. Often, amateur students of law end-up in a ‘No Man’s Land,’ not meaning the Common English use of a word, but failing to grasp the full exactitude of a legal meaning. Complicit as I may be in this, what matters to me is that concepts are conveyed. I am not trying to train you to be a lawyer.
This book will not suit all men. Some fathers like to know the law in full; they may even fancy themselves as an advocate. For them, I would recommend the definitive series: Children Act Handbook [Hershman and McFarlane (Bloomsbury Family Law)] and the little known book: Advocacy in Family Proceedings [Beddingfield D, 2013]. Other fathers might be looking for help after ‘doing a Theresa May,’ i.e. committing to a binding process without a single ounce of a plan other than the belief they will be treated fairly. Such people might find this book a bit like the bloke in the joke who reminds someone fighting for their life that they went into the swamp to drain it, not to fight crocodiles. There are practical chapters later on, but if you are looking for quick look-up lists of things-to-do at each stage of a court process there are better resources than this one. What I can guarantee is something that doesn’t pull any punches in describing the workings and impact of Family Law on fathers, without deference to any sort of Political Correctness. In my opinion, this book is overdue.
Needless to say, reading this volume is not the same as getting legal advice, nor does it replace expert assistance in settling disputes about child arrangements following divorce or separation.