A daily blog on the thrills, spills, and frequent absurdities of the world's one and only 'non-imperial empire' - as Barroso himself called it - the European Union.

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Sunday, 4 December 2011

Another National Scandal

Do law-abiding fathers have less rights to see their kids than convicted criminals?

It's long been a refrain of the right that abusers have more rights to see their children than law-abiding fathers, and now it appears to be broadly accurate. A report produced jointly by the probation service  union NAPO and Protection Against Stalking has found that up to six hundred convicted criminals have used legal aid - paid for out of public funds - to try and re-establish contact with their children. Many are serving sentences for domestic violence and other family-related crimes. There is one instance of someone convicted of paedophilia fighting for the right to see their own children - the ones that they abused.

However, divorced fathers who have committed no crime have recently had their legal right to see their offspring taken away from them, on the grounds that it would be 'too disruptive' to the children. The courts have enshrined what Louis de Berniers calls a 'divine right of mothers,' which awards custody of children to the mother as a default option. There are ninety-nine thousand five hundred and fifty divorces in the UK each year. In ninety-one per cent of these, the father or the man will lose custody. Half of all men who get divorced in the UK can expect to lose all contact with their children within three years.

There's no way that almost all men who go through the divorce courts are a threat to their children, so why are hundreds of thousands of them losing access for no good reason? And why are the ones that genuinely do present a danger fighting to force their children to visit them in prison out of the public pocket! Such a dichotomy is a national disgrace, in the proper sense of the word: a stain on the concept of fair and equal justice.

There are so many levels to this - criminals getting legal aid, not victims; caring fathers feeling like they have the entire system arrayed against them, whilst equally-caring mothers breeze through; law-abiding and loving parents having to spend everything they have on the right to see their children to no avail, whilst dangerous and abusive ones get it for free - and the law is wrong on every single one of them.

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