BACKGROUND TO THE CASES
Source of the cases
The cases are entirely first-hand, authored in almost all cases by the husband/father involved, but in a few cases by the son or second wife. Almost all authors were a party to the legal proceedings. They derive from two sources :
from the General Narrative section of the 1995 Families Need Fathers (FNF) survey; they are up to 1-page in length; later referred to under survey;
from personal contacts within the network of the father's groups; they are the narratives of those individuals with well known cases; they are typically 5-10 pages in length; later referred to under personal contacts.
The FNF 1995 survey
This was taken in the summer and autumn of 1995 from members of FNF. The survey was designed to provide examples of case studies and statistics about family law. Approximately 1,500 members were provided with survey forms. Of these 346 men and 1 woman responded by November 1995. It was from these responses that the smaller case studies were drawn, and from which the statistics were extracted.
The personal contact cases from the network of the father's groups
The major groups are Families Need Fathers (FNF) with about 2000 members, Dads After Divorce (DADs) with about 300 members, and Parents Forever Scotland (PFS) with about 100 members. Several more groups exist, and contacts are maintained between the groups. It is from this network that the personal contact cases have been obtained.
The scale of the cases in perspective
The UK father's groups contain about 3,000 members in total. The largest group, FNF, has a membership of about 2,000, and receives about 5,000 calls per year, of which about 1 in 10 join the organisation. These figures may be related to the number of divorces in the UK, currently about 180,000 per year.
From the cases available, those selected are :
|from survey :
from personal contacts :
Selection and categorisation
The cases have been selected and placed into categories, in order to illustrate the different aspects of these cases which are a cause of serious concern.
As free text narratives, most cases, as one would expect, include a combination of aspects. The cases are therefore placed according to that aspect which features most prominently, or is at least a major or significant contributory factor.
The codes to the categories
These are :
|code||indicates / principally refers to|
|survey :||p||a brief case / processes in family law|
|c||a brief case / consequences for the individual|
|personal contact :||min||a shorter length case|
|max||a longer length case|
The survey categories
The survey cases have been further, more finely, categorised to illustrate separate aspects within the process and consequences of divorce/separation as identified below.
The categories for legal process are :
|p1||- husband/father innocent of substantive wrong;|
|p2||- (ex-)wife behaves badly/in contempt of court;|
|p3||- (ex-)wife commits perjury;|
|p4||- false accusations of a serious nature;|
|p5||- legal costs are high;|
|p6||- malpractices by :|
p6.1 - solicitors,
p6.2 - barristers,
p6.3 - welfare officers,
p6.4 - judges,
p6.5 - combination of these/others;
|p7||- legal remedies sought in higher court;|
|p8||- complaint made about malpractices;|
|p9||- husband/father has no remedies/is defenceless.|
The categories for social consequences are :
|c1||- loss of children/damage to relationship;|
|c2||- loss of home and life savings;|
|c3||- loss by way of maintenance, problems with CSA;|
|c4||- damage to health/career;|
|c5||- subsequent quality of life;|
|c6||- subsequent attitudes to women, law, society, etc.|
The personal contact categories
Each of the min category cases has an associated aspect. The maj cases are associated as primarily about the legal process, or the social consequences as listed below.
|min1||status quo not recognised when father has custody|
|min4||solicitors aiding and abetting exclusion of father|
|min6||childs perspective given|
|min7||girlfriends perspective given|
|min8||2nd wifes perspective given|
|min11||no remedy in complaint|
|min13||mental health of wife (same case as min12)|
|min14||mental health of wife|
|min16||involvement of police|
|legal &||(some) social|
|legal &||(some) social|
|legal &||(some) social|
Selection for publication
The cases have been selected for publication using the criteria :
i) only first hand cases have been accepted;
ii) to be capable of categorisation;
iii) to ensure that the account will not identify authors or any other individuals;
iv) legible and comprehensible.
Preparation for publication
As preparation for publication, the cases have been edited only to remove names and locations which would allow identification of individuals. In the survey cases, this was achieved simply with the use of correction fluid before typing. In the personal contact cases, editing by word-processor was applied.
The authors of these cases, and any individuals involved in the case, are referred to only by a pseudonym or by initials.
Identification of individuals in cases
All cases are therefore anonymous, so that the individuals concerned have been able to tell their story, retaining privacy. Actual names of people and places have been either reduced to initials, replaced by pseudonym, or replaced with "-"s where this was necessary to ensure anonymity.
The editors have complete records. Those who wish to investigate individual cases further may be put into contact with the individuals concerned. This will only be done with the authority of the individual.
WHAT THE CASES DEMONSTRATE
The major issue
The cases, taken together, clearly show that the legal process involved in separation and divorce is disconnected from the social consequences of the process.
The legal process
The legal process is disconnected from the social consequences because of four major factors :
no single responsible party obtains an overview of the individual case e.g. different judges deal with divorce, children and money - see almost any of the major cases for examples;
no single Government Department has responsibility for the family, family law and the social consequences of current practice - see references:
 Restoring Legal Marriage, The Cheltenham Group, Paper No. 1, 1994;
The Presumption of Shared Residence, Families Need Fathers, 1994;
the law has been heavily influenced by academics and lawyers whose considerations are not based on the realities of the lives of the people whose lives they affect - see reference :
 Facing Reality, The Family Law Action Group, January 1994;
the legal process is corrupted with serious malpractice taking place in all areas and at all levels, so that Parliament's intentions are being overturned with respect to the fundamental principles laid down in statute - see reference :
 Report to the (UN) Centre for Human Rights on Article 23 Clause 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, The Cheltenham Group, 1 July 1995.
The social consequences
The social consequences of current practice are for society and for the individuals in each case.
The consequences for society are well documented - see Restoring Legal Marriage - and we briefly mention :
that the divorce rate has risen fourfold since the 1969 reforms and subsequent case law;
over 30%, more than 1,000,000 children are brought up in single-parent 'families', usually without a father;
there is a serious financial burden on the country to support such 'families';
ever more drastic steps have been required to contain the consequences such as the Child Support Act 1991.
The consequences for the individual, in terms of destruction of the fabric of their lives, are readily appreciated in the cases.
THE INDIVIDUAL FIRST-HAND CASES
The case studies are presented in :
Annex 1 - the survey cases;
Annex 2 - the personal contact cases.
The analysis of the FNF survey of 1995 are presented as published in July 1996. The reports were titled :
The Impact of Divorce Law Practice on Fathers and Children : The Main Findings by Barry Worrall, Susan Secker and John Campion, of July 1996
The Impact of Divorce Law Practice on Fathers and Children : Supplement : Summary, Probabilities and Extrapolations, and Conclusions by Barry Worrall, Susan Secker and John Campion of July 1996
These reports contain their own introduction. They are presented in annex 3.
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