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Hodge does not believe in reasonable contact for fathers.

Dear All:
Update from behind the scenes:

Despite all the pressure exerted by F4J , the Equal Parenting Coalition and Grandparents groups (and probably FNF) Margaret Hodge is effectively killing off all Family Law reform.

At the foot of this email is the document Whitehall doesn't want you to see. click here...

All the proposals submitted have either been thwarted or replaced.

These are the manoeuvrings which have been happening that few of us were able to see – until now

The leaked document below sets out details of the CAFCASS / DfES project which the Government swapped for the original NATC Early Interventions (E.I.)project. The reformist NATC E.I. project was based on the presumption of reasonable contact and co-parenting.

The Early Interventions project had the support of the legal profession, court experts, child development psychiatrists, and even the judges. It has been worked out and is ready to go.

Margaret Hodge and her dept have told senior minister and the media that they are cracking on with the project. But that is not true.

She has replaced the Early Interventions project with her so-called "Family Resolutions" project. This she is trying to pass off as the Early Interventions project.

Down below are the leaked specifications for the Hodge fiasco - her so-called "Family Resolutions" project.

The CAFCASS inspired Family Resolutions project is simply a ‘spoiler’ used to confuse the media. It has no judicial support. It has only recently been dreamed up. It has no pedigree; no years in the formulation. It has no particular purpose, and no grasp of policy or contact issues. Those working on it are unfamiliar with the subject area.

The Family Resolutions specifications are contained in an unsent draft letter by the Design Team Chair, Mavis Maclean. This letter was intended for the Coalition for Equal Parenting in reply to their letter of 23 March. As far as I know, it was never sent. But it has been issued to novitiates as a project ‘brief’.

The main headlines are that :-

1- the DfES Family Resolutions project is a sham

2- there isn't actually ‘a project’

3- the big DfES idea was merely to start a Talking Shop about a project

4- contact is only mentioned as an afterthought on the last line

... where it's reduced to the idea of more funding for supervised contact centres (and as one of several options)

Yours sincerely,

Robert Whiston

PS. If you want to know more or want to complain the DfES supremo is Project
Director Althea Efunshile. She can be contacted on: Tel: 0207 273 1396

Second-in-line is Bruce Clark, (probably the more culpable of the two): Tel:
0207 273 1288 bruce.CLARK@dfes.gsi.gov.uk

It’s now official. The original EI project, based on the presumption of reasonable contact, has been scrapped by Hodge

Here's what our children will get instead


"Family Resolutions launch core script / response to the Coalition for Equal Parenting The aim of the Family Resolutions Pilot is to support and help parents to reach agreement about how to share responsibility for co-operative
parenting, after divorce or separation. Evidence clearly demonstrates that
parents are happiest with arrangements that they themselves agree. This
pilot project will evaluate the options for helping all parents to
understand that contested hearings in court are a last resort, and that
contact and residence arrangements negotiated outside of the court process
are the best way of helping them to go forward together as parents, even if
they are no longer a couple.

We have given careful consideration to the experience of other countries in
dealing with child contact disputes, including that set out in the detailed
advice paper prepared by the ad hoc group chaired by Nicholas Crichton DJ in
2003. This paper was included in recommendations made by officials to
Ministers in both the Department for Education and Skills, and the
Department for Constitutional Affairs, for taking forward exploratory work
on how couples could best be helped to reach settlement over parenting
issues without turning to the courts.

In late 2003 Margaret Hodge, Minister for Children, asked officials to
investigate options for improving the ways in which child contact and
residence applications to court are dealt with, including through
conciliation and intervention measures to increase agreement between the
disputing parents. We are taking this work forward under the overall
direction of a cross-cutting Steering Group, which I chair. Detailed
recommendations for the practical delivery of options will be made by a
Design Group, which also includes representation from other Government
Departments, the judiciary, voluntary service providers and family research.
Two of the members of the Design Group were also members of the ad hoc
group - one of them being Judge Crichton himself.

The Design Group is not working to any pre-determined intervention plan - of
the ad hoc group, of CAFCASS, or any other individual or body. It will
develop recommendations based on the collective expertise of its members
[see below], and the contacts and advice those members will draw on from
outside the Group. Mediation is one of the available methods of
intervention, among a wider range of conciliation and family support
services that are under consideration.

It is however essential to bear in mind that no two countries are the same,
either in terms of their social cultures or their jurisdictions: what works
well in one environment offers no guarantee of success elsewhere. In the
U.S., for example, the law makes the rights of the adult the paramount
concern [untrue]. The law in England and Wales states that the child's
interests are paramount. In developing the Family Resolutions Pilot
proposals, we understand the importance of devising solutions that can and
will work best in this country at this time.

The primary aim of the Design Group, and of this pilot as a whole, is to
ensure that couples in dispute understand fully the impact of separation on
their children, and what will be the most effective, and most satisfactory
way for them to reach agreement about their future roles as co-operative
parents. A key part of the success of this project is the direct involvement
of the judiciary. I am pleased that we have received strong and positive
support from family court judges. In addition to Judge Crichton on the
Design Group, Mrs Justice Bracewell is a member of the Steering Group, and
the judges in the pilot areas have indicated their support and will be
directly involved in implementation. Judicial support will be instrumental
to the success of the pilot project, in encouraging disputing couples to
seek to settle their differences away from the confrontational surroundings
of the court.

It is important that this initiative is designed in a way that takes into
account the needs of all family members. This means, for example, that we
accept this initiative will not be not suitable in cases where domestic
violence is a factor.

The truth is that court-imposed orders generate the least satisfactory
outcomes in terms of what parents themselves have told us. Even when an
order is made, disagreements can and do continue to prevent the family
moving forward. Enforcing contact orders is difficult; judges are
understandably reluctant to jail or heavily fine parents who do not comply
with contact orders, as that would often harm the child. However, we are
considering this difficult issue as a separate matter, and will come forward
with proposals in the summer.

Finally, where is safe to do so, we want children to have contact with both
parents after divorce or separation. To support this, we have committed an
additional £3.5m for child contact services including the funding of 14 new
supervised contact services."


"Collective Expertise of its members"

Aside from DJ Crichton, none of the nine members of the Design Team who are (according to the Minister, taking forward the NATC EI project) know anything about the EI project and have had no dealings with the NATC. For the most part the membership consists of middle-ranking civil servants unfamiliar with family law, the family courts or contact issues. A reforming project approved by the Minister in one Department the DCA has been scrapped by Hodge's civil servants. The EI project papers were thrown away and still have not been seen by the Design Team.

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