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Should 'runaway dads' be shamed like drink-drivers?

View profile for Mike Devlin
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On Fathers Day, David Cameron wrote an article for the Sunday Telegraph declaring “that families are the cornerstone of our society”. No doubt a majority of people may agree with this.
 
However, he then went a step further, stating that “we need to make Britain a genuinely hostile place for fathers who go AWOL. It’s high time runaway dads were stigmatised, and the full force of shame was heaped upon them. They should be looked at like drink drivers, people who are beyond the pale. They need the message rammed home to them, from every part of our culture, that what they’re doing is wrong”. Surely, such a statement is unfair and unrepresentative of non-residents parents generally?
 
As a family law solicitor, parents who seek advice are sadly those who have been unable to reach an agreement together regarding their children’s arrangements. Hopefully a majority of those cases however are resolved by agreement quite swiftly and amicably or alternatively court proceedings are issued. However, I would guess that a majority of separating parents manage to reach an agreement regarding their children’s arrangements without solicitors/the Court’s involvement. Consequently, a majority of children whose parents have separated are surely enjoying a relationship, to some degree, with their non-resident parent?
 
For the sad few whose parents separate and ties are completely broken with the parent who leaves the family home, then perhaps the government could do more to ensure that relationships are rebuilt, if it’s safe to do so, and that they maintain financial responsibility for their children. However, I’m concerned that David Cameron’s suggestion that government initiatives to prevent families separating in the first place is the answer – financial incentives to keep unhappy families together surely cannot be in children’s best interests?
 
My concern upon reading such an article by David Cameron is the impact upon non-resident parents who do play an active role in their children’s lives, who do contribute towards their financial upkeep, who love their children enough to make such a big decision to separate from the other parent in order to raise their children in two happy homes, instead of one unhappy home. Hopefully, such parents will not be stigmatised causing a detrimental impact upon the separated family as a whole.
 
By family law solicitor, Charlotte Faid
 

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