I asked Peter Morris to write this blog. As the Chairman of Men’s Aid NI, he works tirelessly fighting against inequality, challenging government and what he describes as the corrupt family law system. He also lobbies for the rights of men, boys and families. You can follow him on @pete_j_morris
Family Law in Northern Ireland has failed to keep up to date with the changes within society.
Under the Children (NI) Order 1995, it operates as a “one parent model” and effectively negates the other parent, usually the father.
Society has it ingrained that fathers have no rights but mothers do, yet the only people who do have rights are the children under Article 9 of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Where separation occurs, some fathers may have Parental Rights automatically, whilst others have to apply to the courts for same. Parental Rights does not allow for access to the child, it merely allows the non resident parent to gain information around schooling, health etc.
The Family Courts, in our eyes, are Diplock Courts. Anything can be said, any allegation can be made and their is no evidential threshold. From being a good parent throughout a relationship, all of a sudden a non resident parent can be alleged to be a violent person, controlling, irresponsible without one shred of evidence.
Men’s Aid NI are campaigning for a two parent model. Amending current legislation we foresee cases ending before they begin and 75% cases being removed from the court arena.
We also see reduced animosity, better outcomes for children throughout their lives, reduction in suicide, mental ill health, youth crime and achievements in education with our proposal.
Unless we make change relevant to such a huge shift in societal practices then we will continue to see the Family Courts effectively destroying families for a long time to come.