Thankyou, we have over 600 signatures so far! A couple of queries we're had-
Why is this not about fathers too? This is because mothers are facing different issues that need to be addressed directly.
Questions about 'parental alienation '- in relation to mothers in court, this is being used to accuse mothers of lying/delusions, using pseudoscience theories of Richard Gardner from the US and which have been discredited and found inadmissible by courts and an expert review panel. It is a dangerous catch 22 that traps children into unsafe contact/residence with an abusive father. It is only applied to mothers who are victims of domestic abuse and children who report sexual abuse..both of which are (unbelievably) seen as symptoms instead of the real concerns and dangers they actually present. Promoting the set up of 'parental alienation' will have a huge backlash unless victim blaming stops, especially when the children grow up and demand justice and recompense!
To: to the Prime Minister
Enquiry into CAFCASS and failure to protect children
There are grave concerns among survivors of domestic abuse within the Family Court system and we ask for this to be considered as a matter of urgency. Cafcass is failing to protect victims of domestic abuse, failing to listen to children and is compromising the safety of children.
Why is this important?
The words of a now adult child when Cafcass recommended change of residence to the father: 'Through the years I was forced to live with my violent father, I could only wait for it to end. No-one would listen to me and I was left alone and ignored'
Cafcass are failing to protect victims of domestic abuse, are not listening to children and are compromising the safety of children.
Mothers face a terrifying and surreal ordeal within the family court. Having courageously left the abuse, they are then retraumatised and often accused of lying or having delusions about abuse.
CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) website states: 'Cafcass represents children in family court cases. We make sure that children's voices are heard and decisions are taken in their best interests. We are independent of the courts, social services, education and health authorities and all similar agencies.'
It is the experience of parents and children that the above statement is not happening in reality especially within the context of domestic abuse situations.
Solutions to these failures are needed as follows:
-Recording of all meetings to be mandatory. Countless reports are incorrect, contain untruths, contradictions and professionals hold the power to accuse mothers (and children) of lying.
-Cafcass to be appropriately educated in the dynamics of domestic abuse. Cafcass practice of encouraging contact 'at any cost' to be viewed as a safeguarding breach
(See http://opus.bath.ac.uk/53400/ This research found that the unrelenting influence of deeply embedded beliefs regarding the preservation or promotion of relationships with fathers continues to have the effect of marginalising issues of safeguarding, including children’s voiced experiences of violence, in all but the most exceptional of cases. Rather, safeguarding concerns in respect of domestic violence and child abuse were persistently overshadowed by a dominant presumption of the overall benefits of contact with fathers.)
-Stop the cruel practice of threats of change of residence if mother or child expresses concerns or refuses contact with the father
--Acknowledge that the use of 'Parental Alienation Syndrome' is widespread through the system in conjunction with a culture of victim blaming and needs to stop. Often not openly named in the court system as it has been extensively proven to be a 'junk' theory and a dangerous practice due to the 'Catch 22' element, sometimes named as 'Implacably Hostile' or just 'parental alienation'. Found inadmissible in a court of appeal and known by professionals as such yet still used ie mothers assumed to be lying or deluded about abuse and to be 'brainwashing', influencing, 'passing on anxiety', coaching their children. This leads to bizarre and unscientific statements and allegations about the mother, from all professionals, including Cafcass
--Acknowledge the use of 'threat therapy'/'realignment therapy' on children as being dangerous and abusive.
-Childrens voices are non-existent. This must change.
-Acknowledge that many children are genuinely in fear of their controlling and manipulating fathers who are causing emotional harm to the children. Many perpetrators will use the children and the court system to continue abuse and cause the most horrendous pain to their victim, which is to take her children from her.
-Follow up reviews of decisions made after proceedings end
-Cafcass are at the forefront of court proceedings. In most cases Judges will follow their recommendations which are often based on little evidence and lack of understanding or knowledge. Cafcass need to be accountable or have less power in proceedings
There have so far officially been 20 child deaths. Based on the thousands of stories shared among mothers through support groups, surveys and research conducted by various groups, there WILL be more.
New cases private law 2017 approx 40,000. Domestic abuse is an issue in at least 70% of cases in the family courts.
'Currently.... only a tiny proportion of these (less than 1%) is contact to the applicant parent refused.'
Meaning a potential of 28,000 children forced into unsafe contact or change of residence.
'It is estimated that only 35% of domestic violence incidents are reported to the police'
In conclusion, mothers are unable to protect their children, forced to send children to unsafe contact or lose residence to the perpetrator. This results in trauma and life-long damage, and effects on health especially mental/emotional health.
Please sign and share this petition, and help us protect our children and access justice
Mothers Unite UK