The change will be how we use the internet.

Do you live in Milton Keynes & need help making a complaint?

Wave of action UK General Strike Monday 4th of July 2016

The most comprehensive evaluation of housing related support services estimated that £1.6 billion investment generated net savings of £3.4 billion to public spending. Preventing homelessness is far more cost effective than dealing with it once it has occurred. The minimum cost saving of preventing someone’s homelessness compared to accepting a homelessness duty is between £1,300 and £7,700. If somebody ends up street homeless the costs are even greater: it is estimated that one person sleeping rough costs between £8,605 and £35,000 a year in crime, emergency health and social care services alone.

National research demonstrates that homelessness & rough sleeping impacts significantly upon a person’s health & puts greater demands upon the health service, with 41% of homeless people attending Accident & Emergency Departments, 31% being admitted to hospital, 28% using an ambulance and 82% having visited a GP at least once within a 12 month period.

State of the nations strategies for tackling & preventing homelessness 2016

A vote of no confidence in regeneration.

Right to buy: One council house built for every eight sold under Government scheme

Social housing stock 'to fall 370,000 by 2020'

Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2016 2:29 PM
Subject: Re: Milton Keynes councils housing policy has not & will not deal with the growing problem of homelessness.

Dear Mr Mortimer.

I have now had an opportunity to discuss the points you raised, with Cllr Hannah O’Neill, Cabinet Member for Housing.

She responds as below.

I would fully support her view. I’m afraid I do not agree with your suggestion about stopping the regeneration programme in favour of tackling homeless since the project is, of course, a part of the longer term solution to insufficient number and types of housing. I am very strongly committed to the Council “bottom up” approach to regeneration, with the fullest possible consultation with residents. The regeneration project is at a very early stage in its planning.

I hope this repos eyes helpful, even if not entirely agreeing with your suggestion.

By the way, I expect you are aware I am not a councillor for your ward, though of course Regeneration is a “whole-city” issue.


Cllr Norman Miles
Wolverton Ward

“After studying the papers I believe the regeneration programme is imperative to supporting communities in most need. It is of great concern to me that in the most deprived areas of this City unemployment is double the MK average and people live 11 years less than residents who live across a road from them, this isn't acceptable and I believe tackling this inequality is in the interests of those people I represent. It is also important to remember that regeneration will be a community led scheme and communities will have the say on proposals.

Whilst I support regeneration I also think work need to happen on homelessness and I do not believe it is a case of one or the other, indeed, they are funded from different areas. This administration has already introduced a number of alternatives to B&B and last week agreed the findings of a task and finish group looking at homelessness, this included the setting up of an umbrella organisation that supports people who find themselves homeless.

Homelessness will continue to rise whilst we have a government that turns a blind eye to the housing crisis, the main reason people present to us as homeless is because they couldn't afford the increase in rents in the private sector, this is a national issue that needs a holistic response.”

[Cllr Hannah O’Neill; Canine Member for Housing]

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2016 1:46 PM
Subject: Department for Education: 2016-0011461 CRM:0708242

Dear Mr Mortimer

Thank you for your email of 22 February about the Children’s Act.

The government is clear that protection from abuse and neglect is a fundamental right for all children. We are committed to taking forward a programme of change to bring about sustainable, long term reform of the child protection system which enables and inspires professionals at the local level to improve the life chances of children and protect them from harm. This will enable children at risk of abuse or neglect to be identified early, have timely and proportionate assessments of their individual needs, and make sure the right services are provided at the right time to improve outcomes. Key to such timely intervention is the need to listen to the children and young people involved. The child protection system should fit the needs of children and not the other way around.

The Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004 largely provide the legislative framework for the child protection system in England. The legislation sets out the overarching responsibility of local authorities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children in their area. This includes specific duties in relation to ‘children in need’ (Section 17) and children suffering, or likely to suffer significant harm (section 47). Other local agencies, including the police and health service, also have child protection responsibilities, particularly under the 2004 Act.

The statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015) (‘Working Together’) clarifies the core legal requirements on individuals and organisations to keep children safe. It sets out, in one place, the legal requirements that local authorities, health services, police, schools and other organisations who work with children, should follow. There is a very clear framework in place for all professionals who work with children to report concerns. Working Together emphasises that safeguarding is the responsibility of all professionals who work with children. It is also clear that any professional working with children should make an immediate referral to local authority children’s social care where they have concerns about a child.

Information sharing is vital to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people. In March 2015, revised guidance on information sharing was published which can be used to supplement local guidance and encourage good practice in information sharing. However, all organisations should have their own policies and procedures in place for sharing information. This guidance can be found at:

However, information sharing alone is not enough to protect children at risk – professionals use their training and skills, as well as information, to evaluate risk in each case.

I hope this information clarifies the department’s position.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2016-0011461. If you need to respond to us, please visit: and quote your reference number.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at:

Yours sincerely

Joanna Radford

Ministerial and Public Communications Division

Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 1:59 PM
Subject: A response to your recent enquiry - Ref: TO2016/03936
Dear Mr Mortimer,

Thank you for your correspondence dated 14 January to the Treasury in which you asked whether the law allows bank regulators to be held to account and when the bankers who caused the crash will be held to account.

Firstly, it may be helpful if I explain the current framework of financial regulation. Financial services are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), which are statutory independent non-governmental bodies. They are self-financing organisations funded via levies on financial services firms. Although the Treasury sets the legal framework for the regulation of financial services, it has no general power of direction over the regulators and therefore cannot intervene in individual cases.

The Government believes that it is vital that the FCA and PRA are accountable to the Treasury, to Parliament and to the public, including for the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which they use resources. There are a number of features in statute which support this accountability, for example:

? The regulators are both subject to full audit by the National Audit Office (NAO) and the NAO having the associated ability to launch VFM studies on the FCA;
? The Treasury can order an independent inquiry into the regulators’ economy, efficiency and effectiveness; and
? There is a requirement for the regulators to make a report to the Treasury, to be laid before Parliament, where there has been regulatory failure.

Also, the government recognises the concern that many people have that bankers should be held to account for misconduct. The previous government took a number of steps to reform financial regulation in this country, and strengthen our ability to taken action for misconduct in financial services. This involved reforming the regulatory system to establish two properly focussed regulators – the PRA and FCA. This new approach to financial regulation enables the PRA to concentrate on ensuring banks are prudently and competently managed, reducing the risk of serious financial failure. It also ensures that the FCA can concentrate on ensuring that all financial services businesses conduct themselves properly in their dealing both with ordinary retail customers and in wholesale financial markets. As part of these reforms, made in the Financial Services Act 2012, the government also introduced a new criminal offence to ensure that criminal penalties, including imprisonment, can be imposed on people who manipulate key financial benchmarks, such as LIBOR.

The previous government also supported the work of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which was appointed by Parliament in July 2012 to consider and report on the professional standards and culture of the UK banking sector, and incorporated measures to give effect to its recommendations in the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013. These include new arrangements for regulating individual conduct and accountability in banking (the “Senior Managers and Certification Regime”) and a new criminal offence which will mean that criminal penalties, including imprisonment or an unlimited fine, can be imposed on bank senior managers whose reckless misconduct in managing a bank results in that bank’s failure. These measures will come into operation in March 2016.

Thank you for taking the trouble to make us aware of your concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Darren Creamer
HM Treasury

Bankers caused crash and got away with it 13th October 2014

The only way to stop criminal fraud and misfeasance by the banks is not by fines, but by criminal prosecution of the top executives responsible says Michael Meacher 4th March 2014

How to Beat the Banksters 5th February 2013

The UK can't afford not to follow Iceland's lead & reclaim it's sovereignty

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2015 2:38 PM
Subject: Department for Education: 2015-0006173 CRM:0030201

Dear Mr Mortimer

I am writing on behalf of the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families to thank you for your email of 31 January about taking children into care.

Ministers and government officials are always pleased to receive correspondence from individuals, such as yourself, with an interest in the welfare of children. In your email you ask why children are taken into care if they are at risk of suffering harm in the future. I have set out the department’s policy on the reasons for taking children into care and I hope this assures you of the government’s stance on this matter.

Our system of family justice is based firmly on the principle that children should not be taken into care without a court independently assessing all of the evidence first. The government believes this is right. The evidence must, in all cases, be carefully scrutinised by the courts. Parents have legal representatives who are appointed to support them and ensure their views are heard, and to ensure that evidence put forward can be challenged. In addition, applications made to the court are subject to separate scrutiny by the child’s guardian who must submit their own analysis of the evidence, and ensure that the child’s interests and views are properly represented. Where, despite these checks and balances in the system, there are concerns about any individual case and its conclusion, cases can be subject to appeal.

In situations where a child is identified as suffering, or at risk of suffering, significant harm, the local authority has a statutory duty to intervene to undertake child protection enquiries and to take action to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare. Whilst local authorities have powers to apply to the courts for emergency protection orders and the police have powers to remove children so that they can act immediately to protect a child, local authorities cannot remove children from their parents' care (unless this is with the parents' consent) without first referring the matter to a court. In every case concerning the upbringing of a child, The Children Act 1989 requires the court to treat the welfare of the child as its paramount consideration. Judges are guided by a list of factors known as the ‘welfare checklist’ when making decisions.

Children should clearly only be taken into care and placed for adoption when it is in their best interests. While it is important to consider if safeguards within the system are sufficiently robust, it is also important not to undermine the work of the professionals we rely on to keep vulnerable children safe. To do so risks damaging the chances of many thousands of children who would greatly benefit from the stable family upbringing a successful adoption can provide.

There are no targets on the numbers of children in care. In fact the law is clear in that children should live with their parents wherever possible and that families should be given extra support to help keep them together. In most cases, support from the local authority enables concerns to be addressed and children to remain with their families.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to write on this important matter.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2015-0006173 . If you need to respond to us, please visit: and quote your reference number.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at:

Yours sincerely

Andrew Seal

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2014 9:55 AM
Subject: A failure to protect children

Dear Mr Mortimer,

Thank you for your e-mail of 4 September and 16 September to the Home Office regarding failure to protect children and the case of Melanie Shaw. Your letter has been passed to the Safeguarding Vulnerable People Unit for a response.

Guidance is already crystal clear that professionals should refer immediately to social care when they are concerned about a child. The most important thing is that people understand how to spot abuse and neglect and the impact it has on children, not the reporting system. However, the Government does understand concerns that the abuse of children is under-reported. Research into the effectiveness of mandatory reporting regimes in other countries is inconclusive. Critics argue that mandatory reporting does not improve the safeguarding of children but rather generates unsubstantiated reports which flood the system.

We are continuing to review the evidence for the specific case of reporting in regulated settings. We are also continuing to take action to improve the knowledge and skills of professionals working with children.

The Secretary of State for Education announced on 24 March during oral questions that the Government is reviewing the specific case for reporting in regulated activity and the Home Office is looking across Government at options to strengthen the system.

Further to your email regarding Melanie Shaw, as you are not directly involved in the case against Ms Melanie Shaw, I am unable to comment on the concerns raised in your email. However, it may assist if I explain how the CPS makes the decision to prosecute.

All cases referred to the CPS by the police are reviewed in accordance with the two stage tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors (the Code), when deciding whether or not to bring or continue with a prosecution. A copy of the Code is available on the CPS website at the following address:

I appreciate that you remain unhappy with the decision to prosecute Ms Shaw. However, I can assure you that the decision was made in accordance with the Code.

I am unable to comment further on this case and you should therefore not expect any reply to further correspondence regarding this.

Yours sincerely,

Safeguarding Vulnerable People Unit

CPS chief executive says no public servant would wilfully abuse a child 6th November 2014

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, October 02, 2014 4:36 PM
Subject: A failure to protect children

Dear Mr Mortimer

Your enquiry addressed to Mr Pickles MP regarding the prosecution of public servants employed by local authorities who have a legal duty to protect children has been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service, Strategy and Policy Directorate for a response.

This is in the process of being prepared and will be sent to you shortly

Kind regards

Mrs J. Pooley
Policy Helpdesk
Strategy & Policy Directorate
CPS Headquarters, Rose Court
2 Southwark Bridge
London SE1 9HS

The child protection system in the UK is the responsibility of the government of each of the UK's four nations: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Each government is responsible for passing legislation, publishing guidance and establishing policy frameworks.

Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2014 11:30 AM
Subject: OCC 201400494

Dear Mr Mortimer,

Thank you for your email.

We can confirm that we are aware that there is no specific legislation or regulations which require local authorities to collect & hold information on child abuse perpetrators or for them to use that information to formulate evidence based child protection policies.

However, may we suggest that you look at the following link which set out the Disclosure and Barring Scheme which Local Authorities would also be legally bound to comply with:

You may also want to pose the question to the ADCS at: (or indeed any Local Authority Safeguarding Board.)

It may be worth mentioning that Local Authorities are of course also bound by the Data Protection Act 1998 in terms of personal information:

I hope you find the above helpful.

Kind regards,

Lyn Foster

Higher Executive Officer

Office of the Children's Commissioner
Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3BT

Direct Line: 020 7783 8203
Telephone: 0207 783 8330

Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2014 3:09 PM
Subject: Department for Education response: Case Reference 2014/0054542

Dear Mr Mortimer

Thank you for your further email, addressed to the Safeguarding and Vulnerable People Unit, about specific legislation or regulations which require local authorities to collect and hold information on child abuse perpetrators. On this occasion, I have been asked to reply.

I am afraid I can only reiterate my previous reply of 14 July. This stated that it is not for this department to comment on whether local authorities hold information regarding child abuse perpetrators or for them to use that information to formulate evidence based child protection policies. It is the role of the police, Disclosure and Barring Service and the criminal justice system to hold this information.

Once again, thank you for writing.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2014/0054542. If you need to respond to us, please visit: and quote your reference number.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at:

Yours sincerely

David Chapman
Ministerial and Public Communications Division

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Friday, August 01, 2014 12:56 PM
Subject: Re: Inquiry into child sexual abuse in the UK.

Mr David Mortimer,

Reference : T10256/14

Date: 01-Aug-2014


Thank you for your e-mail of 29/07/2014 1:48:54 PM.

The matters you have raised are the responsibility of Department for

We have therefore transferred your e-mail to Department for Education, who
will arrange for a reply to be sent to you.

Transfer Desk

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 1:48 PM
Subject: Re: Inquiry into child sexual abuse in the UK.

Dear Safeguarding and Vulnerable People Unit,

Please will you kindly confirm that you are aware there is no specific legislation or regulations which require local authorities to collect & hold information on child abuse perpetrators or for them to use that information to formulate evidence based child protection policies.

Yours Sincerely

David Mortimer

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Monday, July 28, 2014 10:19 AM
Subject: Inquiry into child sexual abuse in the UK.

Dear Mr Mortimer,

Thank you for your email of 19 June to the Secretary of State for Education regarding an overarching inquiry into child sexual abuse. Your email has been forwarded to the Safeguarding and Vulnerable People Unit at the Home Office for a response. I am sorry for the delay.

The Government is committed to tackling child sexual abuse and is very aware of the serious and often long-lasting effects of these terrible crimes on victims. We are clear that if a person has suffered sexual abuse, however long ago, and they go to the police about what they have been through, then we expect the police to do everything in their power to help those victims, and everything possible to investigate the complaint.

On 7 July the Home Secretary announced an inquiry panel into child sexual abuse. This inquiry will consist of a panel of experts and will consider whether public bodies, and other non-state institutions, have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse. The inquiry will consider all the information from the various published reviews and identify any issues or allegations requiring new or further investigation. It will advise on any further action needed to address any gaps or failings within our current child protection systems on the basis of the findings and learning from these reviews.

It will be a wide inquiry and will look not just at state institutions but at other bodies to see whether they have been protecting children appropriately. The inquiry panel will have access to all the Government papers, reviews and reports that it needs and will be free to call witnesses from organisations in the public and private sectors, and in wider civil society. The terms of reference will be published when they are agreed, and a progress report will be made to Parliament before the General Election. The Home Secretary has been clear that, if the Chairman concludes that formal inquiry powers are required, we will ensure the inquiry is converted to formal inquiry status.

In terms of lessons learnt, and as the Home Secretary stated in the House of Commons, the National Group that Norman Baker, the Minister of State for Crime Prevention, is leading has already brought forward proposals on how the police and prosecutors could better handle these matters and it will continue with its work. That will feed into the work of the wider inquiry panel. As you will appreciate from the Home Secretary’s statement, the Government feels it is right to set this review up as an inquiry panel so that it can begin its work without jeopardising the criminal investigations taking place. It will look at what, if any, gaps there might be in our current work that mean we are not properly protecting children and, if there are any, what appropriate mechanisms could be put in place to ensure that those gaps are filled.

Thank you for writing about this very important issue.

Yours sincerely,

Safeguarding and Vulnerable People Unit

Sent: Monday, July 14, 2014 9:55 AM
Subject: Department for Education response: Case Reference 2014/0045118

Dear Mr Mortimer

Thank you for your emails of 20 June, addressed to the Secretary of State for Education and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, about legislation and regulations which requires local authorities (LAs) to collect and hold information, regarding child abuse perpetrators. Your email was passed to this department as we are responsible for the policy on child protection. On this occasion I have been asked to reply to both emails.

Under section 83 of the Children Act 1989 and also as part of our obligations under the 1989 United Nations Conventions on the Rights of a Child, the government has an annual collection of data on the characteristics of children in need, in England. This data focuses on the needs of the child. Collecting and holding information regarding child abuse perpetrators is outside the remit of this data collection. It is the role of the police, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and the criminal justice system to hold this information.

As you may be aware, under section 11 of the Children Act 2004, LAs and their partner agencies have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. As part of that responsibility, the LA would rely on the police to share information at the relevant time. In exceptional circumstances, the police have powers under common law to disclose information about an individual where they consider this is necessary for the prevention or detection of crime, for example, where they consider that an individual poses a risk to the public and there is an urgent need to provide information to an employer.

We expect local areas to establish multi-agency working arrangements, which includes information sharing between, and within, organisations to ensure vulnerable children are safe from harm and abuse. This is set out clearly in the statutory guidance 'Working together to safeguard children' (2013).

Once again, thank you for writing, and I hope this information is helpful.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2014/0045118. If you need to respond to us, please visit: and quote your reference number.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at:

Yours sincerely

David Chapman
Ministerial and Public Communications Division

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, May 16, 2014 3:15 PM
Subject: RE: Whom do local authorities protect children from?

Dear Mr Mortimer

I refer to your email below, as well as to your email dated 13 May 2014, addressed to Debbie Jones.

Thank you for writing to Ofsted. In answer to your question, I need to reiterate that irrespective of whether Ofsted is aware of a lack of legislation or regulations that require a local authority to collect and hold information on child abuse perpetrators, or to use such information to formulate their child protection policies, the fact of the matter is that Ofsted does not formulate the legislation which underpins this requirement.

As stated in Debbie Jones’ letter to you of 12 December 2013, this is a matter for the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Education to look into, if, as you state, there is a need for legislation to be updated to further secure the safety of children and young people.

I hope this response helps to clarify our position.

Kind regards

Dimitrios Gavrilakis | Correspondence and Project Officer | HMCI’s Private Office

Ofsted, 8th Floor, Aviation House, 125 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6SE

T. 0300 0130 940 | E.| W.

Whom do local authorities protect children from? 28th December 2013

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, May 01, 2014 7:29 AM
Subject: Department for Education response: Case Reference 2014/0029934

Dear Mr Mortimer

Thank you for your further email of 7 April, addressed to the Secretary of State for Education, about the family justice system. I am sure you will appreciate that the Secretary of State receives a large amount of correspondence and is unable to answer each one personally. It is for this reason I have been asked to respond.

The family justice system has undergone enormous scrutiny in the past few years, with the clear aim of ensuring the welfare of the child is kept at the heart of the system. With the commencement of the Children and Families Act 2014, we will be implementing the provisions.

I am only able to reiterate the information already given to you in our previous replies, as there is nothing further to add on this subject. I have attached to this message the following responses:

14 April 2014 - 2014/0025407

18 March 2014 - 2014/0020830

14 March 2014 - 2014/0018670

26 February 2014 - 2014/0014312

Once again, thank you for writing.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2014/0029934. If you need to respond to us, please visit:, and quote your reference number.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at:

Yours sincerely

Tariq Khan
Ministerial and Public Communications Division

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 5:02 PM
Subject: Department for Education response: Case Reference 2014/0025407

Dear Mr Mortimer

Thank you for your email of 22 March, addressed to the Department for Education and your recent email to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, received 25 March, about the family justice system. Your email has been forwarded to this department as we have responsibility for the policy on family law. On this occasion I have been asked to reply.

For information about the details provided in the 'Family Justice Review' and comments made by David Norgrove, you may wish to contact the Ministry of Justice directly. Their contact details are available at:

I have reviewed your current and previous correspondence, and the responses sent to you. However, I can only reiterate the information provided to you in our previous replies.

In view of your concerns relating to reasonable contact, the new Children and Families Act was given royal assent on 13 March 2014. This reflects the importance of children having a continuing relationship with both of their parents following family breakdown. You can view further information at:

Thank you once again for your engagement in this matter.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2014/0025407. If you need to respond to us, please visit: and quote your reference number.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at:

Yours sincerely

Lynn Cartmell
Ministerial and Public Communications Division

----- Original Message -----
From: "MINSHALL, Katy"
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2014 4:50 PM
Subject: Message from David Blunkett


Thanks for your email.

I have drawn peoples attention to Warshak.

Very best wishes,

David Blunkett

Kind regards

Katy Minshall
Office of Rt. Hon. David Blunkett MP
Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough
Tel: 0207 219 5187
Mobile: 07712 528 176

-----Original Message-----
Sent: 07 April 2014 14:51
Subject: The Warshak study is a game changer & a major intellectual event.

Dear David Blunkett

The Warshak study is a game changer & a major intellectual event.

Who could ever reasonably claim the family courts act in the best interests of children when family court judges do not give equal consideration to the damage it causes a child to remove it's father or any consideration of the harm it causes fathers to remove their children. The current adversarial family justice system is abusive towards the parents & children it's supposed to best serve.

A consortium of 110 world experts from 15 countries have endorsed overnights and shared care for children of all ages.

The Cameron/Clegg government came into office claiming to care about children and fathers access to their offspring post-divorce. The process by which it has gone about amending child custody laws amply demonstrates the opposite. The coalition government has burned much midnight oil, produced many reports and came up with the same old thing. The fictional shared parenting provision to be inserted into Children Act section 1 is a prescription for the status quo. Moreover, the unconvincing acceptance of the House of Lords further revision is a national disgrace and demands rethinking.

Commentators opposed to shared residence and overnights for infants and toddlers have been relying on misleading interpretations of very flawed research to argue that young children need to spend most of their time, and every night, in the care of one primary parent.

In order to clarify where social science stands on these issues, the attached February 2014 paper published in the prestigious peer-review journal Psychology, Public Policy, and Law with the endorsement of 110 of the world's top authorities from 15 countries in attachment, early child development, and divorce, recommends that in normal circumstances, overnights and "shared parenting should be the norm for children of all ages."

The study is a major intellectual event and its importance cannot be overstated. The calibre of the distinguished international authorities is exceptional and the names and affiliations are listed in the Appendix. Charlie Lewis, Ph.D., Head of Department and Professor of Family and Developmental Psychology, Lancaster University is the United Kingdom signatory.

In the context of the current family law debate this significant study is a must read for lawmakers and should be tabled in the House of Commons.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this request.

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, March 14, 2014 4:30 PM
Subject: Department for Education response: Case Reference 2014/0018670

Dear Mr Mortimer

Thank you for your emails of 13 February addressed to the Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims; 20 February addressed to Tim Loughton MP, and 5 March addressed to the Secretary of State for Education, enquiring about shared parental involvement, data held by local authorities and The Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB) Regulations 2006.

As I am sure you will appreciate, ministers and government officials receive a large amount of correspondence and are unable to respond to each one personally. On this occasion I have been asked to respond to all your enquiries, which I hope is acceptable.

I have read from your emails the concerns you raise regarding shared parental involvement, however I can only reiterate our previous response of 26 February (case ref: 2014/0014312), which appears to have crossed paths with your correspondence. I have attached our original response for your reference.

In relation to David Norgrove’s comments, it is important to elucidate the context in which the comments were made. In view of his role as the Chair of the Family Justice Review, his comments could be construed to be made in the context of the family law courts and in particular, the issue of co-operative parenting. This is not to be misinterpreted with the House of Commons Library record you referred to in your email, given that conviction rates and sentencing outcomes are criminal law matters.

The government recognises that there is a perception of bias in the courts. It is for this reason that the government has included the ‘parental involvement’ clause in the Children and Families Act, in order to address this perception and help restore public confidence in the system.

If a child’s parent is willing and able to make a contribution to the child’s life, he or she should have the opportunity to do so and the government wishes to make the law clear on this. This provision will send a clear message to separating parents that, if they turn to the courts to resolve disputes, decisions will take account of the principle that both parents remain jointly responsible for their children, where it is appropriate. However, the change in law will not entitle parents to an equal share of the child’s time or a ‘right’ to contact with the child.

The legislation amends the Children Act 1989 to place a duty on the courts, in cases where there are disputes about children’s care, to presume that the involvement of both parents in the child’s life will further the child’s welfare. The presumption applies, unless a parent cannot be involved in any way which does not give rise to a risk of harm for the child. Courts will continue to be required to have the welfare of the child as their paramount consideration when making decisions about children’s care.

The department is unable to comment on the decisions made by the NSPCC as it does not fall within our remit. The NSPCC is an independent charity which is wholly managed by their Board of Trustees. Therefore you may wish to forward your concerns directly to the organisation.

Turning to your enquiry about data held by the local authority, I can only reiterate our previous reply of 2 January (case ref: 2013/0076545). It is not for this department to comment on whether local authorities hold information regarding child abuse perpetrators. If someone has been convicted of a criminal offence against a child then their details will be put on the Sex Offenders' Register. Their details will therefore be held but only by the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Disclosure and Barring Service.

The Home Office leads on crime and policing; law and the justice system, and can be contacted for further information by writing to:

Home Office, Direct Communications Unit, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF, or by email at:

In regards as to whether there will be any future amendments to the LSCB regulations; there are no current plans to update this legislation. However, you may wish to be aware that a copy of The LSCB (Review) Regulations 2013 is available at:

Thank you for writing and I hope you find the information provided helpful.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2014/0018670. If you need to respond to us, please visit:, and quote your reference number.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at:

Yours sincerely

Rebecca Liu
Ministerial and Public Communications Division

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2014 4:24 PM
Subject: Getting The Law Wrong Again.

Dear Mark Lancaster,

The Government have got themselves into a muddle about the current law and how the law operates in practice. The Government has repeatedly maintained that case law safeguards the principle of the two-parent model; that is to say, the principle that children normally benefit from a meaningful relationship with both parents following separation, unless good reasons can be shown why that should not happen. In other words, they say that there is already a presumption of meaningful relations or meaningful contact enshrined in case law. But when it is put to them, that that presumption should be mirrored in statute, they say that they do not like the idea that presumption of reasonable contact should actually appear in the Children Act 1989. So their position is contradictory, and the muddle of it is compounded by your belief that the present law is all right.

The present law is not all right, because it cannot prevent thousands of blameless and loving parents being granted next to no contact with their children for no material or good reason. I an not talking dangerous or dysfunctional parents but about normal, loving, non-violent parents who have had to come to court repeatedly to prove to a judge why it is reasonable for them to have a meaningful relationship with their child. That is the effect of the current law. They do not enter the court with a presumption of reasonable or meaningful contact; they enter it with a presumption of contact of some kind, which may end up as two hours once a fortnight, for no material or good reason.

Case law does not help those parents. The Governments contention that it does is based on a fundamental misreading of case law and of the Children Act 1989. Certainly you can find in case law warm pronouncements by judges about the desirability of meaningful relationships between the child and both his parents. But if case law is to be useful as a precedent, it has to pass a test. It would have to be recognised by the Court of Appeal as having clear applicability to broad and recognisable categories of parents. It would have to provide a steer to the courts in cases involving those same categories of parent about how much contact time it is reasonable for the resident and non-resident parent to have. Nothing like that exists in case law, which is why I say that the Government has misled it's self in referring to case law.

The question was asked in 2006: what is the definition of the term "reasonable contact"? The answer is that it can be defined by reference to units of time, dependent on the circumstances of the case, so long as those units of time are sufficient to deliver the desired end result, which is a meaningful relationship with the child. Most aggrieved non-resident parents will tell you that unless there is overnight contact, the chances of a meaningful relationship continuing are low.

The judge might say that in the best interests of the child, and to give the best chance of a meaningful relationship, it is reasonable for the resident mother to have 70 per cent of the contact time and the non-resident father to have 30 per cent. The apportionment is then translated into numbers of days and nights per year.

But all too often, material contact of this kind is denied or brought to an end for no material reason. It is brought to an end in the face of the resident mother's emotional protests. It is brought to an end because the mother accuses the father of having repeatedly asked for the marmalade in a sarcastic tone of voice. It is brought to an end because the mother accuses the father of changing the time at which a meeting is to take place, thereby upsetting the domestic routine. There needs to be a good reason to deny a blameless non-violent parent reasonable contact time.

With only a legal presumption of contact, a non-resident parent can be sure of only one thing—that he or she will be awarded at least some minimal level of contact unless a good reason can be shown why not. No more than that.

The fact that there is a presumption in law does not mean that a court must make a contact order. If there is a good reason in the interests of the child not to make a contact order—usually because to do so would pose an unacceptable risk to the child—then there is no contact order. In the same way, if the Children Act were to provide for a presumption of reasonable contact, that would not put the child at a greater risk of harm. A presumption is only what it says—a presumption. If a good reason is shown to the court why there should not be material contact, the court will not make an order granting it. It would not be reasonable to do so.

So I say to the Minister, please take further legal advice. With one breath, he is embracing the presumption of reasonable contact, and with the next he is resisting it. By sticking to his current position, by resisting the idea that a presumption of reasonable contact should be incorporated into the Children Act, he is doing one thing and one thing only—rejecting the two-parent model for bringing up children. He is rejecting the golden principle that the child-parent bond should not be lightly set aside. He is going against what he says he believes about how children can best maximise their life chances. And because he does not acknowledge that a very simple change to the law is what stands between contentment and utter grief for hundreds, if not thousands, of parents, he has allowed himself to believe that the measures contained in the Children & Families Bill will do good. They will not, because they are conceived on the premise that there is nothing wrong with the Children Act provisions on contact. If you do not cure the root of the problem, you will not cure the problem, and the root of the problem is something that the Children & Families Bill does not touch.

Yours Sincerely

David Mortimer

Caroline Opposes Lords’ Amendment to Children & Families Bill on Shared Parenting
By Admin On February 12, 2014

Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey & Southampton North, has spoken against an Amendment to the Children & Families Bill which sought to ‘water down’ the right of absent parents to have on-going involvement in the life of their child. Caroline was joined by other MPs who likewise criticised the amendment.

Caroline, who sat on the committee which scrutinised the Children & Families Bill, criticised amendment 12, tabled in the Lords by Baroness Butler-Sloss, once the most senior family judge in England and Wales. The amendment sought to change Clause 11 of the Bill, which had intended to enshrine an automatic right for a child to be parented by both parents, except in exceptional circumstances.

Speaking during the debate, and on the subject of the welfare of children, Caroline said “The welfare of the child should be the court’s paramount concern, but it should not be the court’s only concern. The legal system must ensure that the child’s welfare comes first, but it should not ignore the welfare of parents, whether a mother or a father. Few people consider the emotional and psychological impact that enforced separation from one’s own flesh and blood can have.”

Speaking after the debate, Caroline said “The purpose of the Bill was to produce legislation which ensured the child’s need was the paramount consideration, and included the right to have an on-going, meaningful relationship with both parents. The Bill which left my committee did this, and would have benefitted the child and non-resident parent alike. The Bill which came back from the Lords does not. It removes almost any expectation an absent parent may have of enforceable shared parenting arrangements.”

Caroline continued “To deny non-resident parents a meaningful role in the life of their child is not only unjust to the child, and detrimental to the parent, it is also contrary to the best interest of society. The social, financial and emotional cost of family breakdown is too high a cost to bear, and we must do everything we can to encourage families to stay together, and if not possible, to work together after separation. There is much research which shows children, and especially girls with an absent father, deal better with family breakdown where there is an on-going relationship with both parents. We must encourage shared parenting for the good of society, the parents and most importantly, the good of the children.”

Caroline went on to echo the calls of organisations like Families Need Fathers, UK Family Law Reform and the Joint Parenting Association, for the law to reflect the experience of shared parenting in Australia, where cases of family litigation have fallen. “Credible shared parenting organisations make the case overwhelmingly for shared parenting legislation. The Government should listen and not retreat on this issue. Opponents of shared parenting are wrong” said Caroline.

The Butler-Sloss Amendment sought to ensure the Bill does not create an expectation that absent parents can demand a set amount of time with their child. But Caroline said the Bill should create exactly that expectation. “It is interesting those who supported this amendment are those who opposed the use of the phrase ‘shared parenting’ in the original Bill. This amendment was another example of the ‘chipping away’ of what was intended to be at the heart of this clause – an automatic right for the child to be parented by both parents. Unless you clearly establish a legal presumption in favour of absent parents spending a reasonable amount of time with their children, and more importantly, enshrine a right for a child to have a meaningful ongoing relationship with both parents, there will be no change in custody outcomes, and we will have missed the best opportunity in a generation to create a culture of shared parenting.”


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, January 24, 2014 2:58 PM
Subject: Department for Education response: Case Reference 2014/0003237

Dear Mr Mortimer

Thank you for your further emails of 13 January and 21 January, addressed to the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, concerning child protection and residence policies, and obligations under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. I hope you will appreciate the minister receives a large amount of correspondence and is unable to respond to each one personally. I am aware that you have also contacted several other Secretaries of State and departmental ministers asking for their opinions regarding the points you have raised. The Department for Education is responsible for child protection and child residence policies, and has a comprehensive understanding of the obligations covered by the FOI Act in relation to these policies, and therefore, on this occasion I have been asked to reply on behalf of all recipients of your email. I trust that this single response is acceptable.

I would first like to assure you that the government is clear that protection from abuse and neglect is a fundamental right for all children. The department is committed to reforming the current child protection system to make sure that children at risk of abuse or neglect are identified early, have an assessment which is based on their individual needs, and get services to promote their welfare and protect them from harm.

Following the Munro review, the government revised the statutory safeguarding guidance 'Working Together to Safeguard Children' (2013). This statutory guidance ensures that there is a very clear framework in place for all who work with children to report concerns. The guidance is very clear that all bodies working with children should make an immediate referral to children’s social care where they have concerns about a child. They should also have well-defined child protection policies in place and policies for handling allegations against staff. You will probably already know but I should like to highlight that 'Working Together to Safeguard Children' (2013), page 13, paragraph 11 states:

'If at any time it is considered that the child may be a child in need as defined in the Children Act 1989, or that the child has suffered significant harm or is likely to do so, a referral should be made immediately to local authority children's social care. This referral can be made by any professional.’

Turning to the point you raise about child residence following parental separation. Every family and every child’s circumstances are different, and the courts will continue to make decisions based on what is best for the individual child concerned. The issue is not about equality in the time that a child spends with each parent after separation; neither parent has a ‘right’ to any particular division of the child’s time. It is the quality of time a child spends with each parent, and the sustainability of arrangements, that are the most important factors.

The government is committed to giving parents and others clear information about all of the changes it is making, including the parental involvement legislation. The government’s 'Sorting Out Separation' online information hub at: will include comprehensive information so that parents understand what this change means and what it doesn’t mean. The government intends to work with relevant organisations in the voluntary sector to make sure it makes the right decisions, and that parents have the information they need.

In response to your query about whether Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) are subject to the FOI Act or not. I can confirm that LSCBs are not public authorities for the purposes of the FOI Act 2000. LSCBs are made up of many agencies and information requests should therefore be directed to the local authority or relevant partner agency.

Thank you again for writing and I hope this is helpful.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2014/0003237. If you need to respond to us, please visit:, and quote your reference number.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at:

Yours sincerely

Jackie Davies
Ministerial and Public Communications Division

A Fathers role in a child's life is a very important one 10th April 2013

Letter sent to The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP Dated March 2013

Mark Lancester MP Re: Shared Parenting reform 14th February 2013

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2013 6:55 AM
Subject: Re: Shared Parenting reform

Mark Lancester MP
Suite 102, Milton Keynes Business Centre
Foxhunter Drive
Milton Keynes
MK14 6GD
01908 686830

14th February 2013

Dear Mark Lancester,

Re: Shared Parenting reform

Almost 3 years after the coalition government of David Cameron and Nicholas Clegg was voted into office, its draft legislation on family justice has finally been published. Articles in the media have waxed about the government's "shared parenting" proposal claiming it assures “meaningful” parent/child involvement post-divorce. It clearly does not. The words of the proposal are as starkly plain as can be and there is no requirement that parents (i.e. fathers) have a meaningful relationship with their children. Judges would be required to order that only if the words were in the family law legislation. They are not. Commentators should read the proposal.

What does a parent’s (i.e. father) “ongoing involvement” in his child’s life mean? That’s not defined, so it can mean anything any individual judge wishes it to mean. Perhaps a Christmas card once a year would suffice. What about monthly “visits” via Skype with his child whose mother has been allowed to move with him/her thousands of miles away?

Should it become law; the legislation will make not the least difference in the custody edicts of British family courts. Those rulings reflect judicial prejudice far more than they do the directives of applicable law. After all, no British law requires judges to give custody to mothers 90% of the time, but that’s what they do. No law requires those judges to refuse to enforce the meagre contact rights of children, but they do that too. There is nothing in the proposal that will change that mindset.

Against this backdrop, tens of thousands of children a year are losing contact with their fathers because of a failing family court system and disastrous custody arrangements. (The Telegraph 16 Nov 2009). This is a national disgrace. Anyone who wanted to could see the deleterious effects of fatherlessness in the streets almost every day of the week. A few minutes’ thought would tell anyone that as a simple matter of economics, keeping fathers and children connected makes sense. How much money do we spend every year trying to address social problems – crime, drug and alcohol abuse, boy’s educational difficulties, teen pregnancy etc. – that fathers themselves could hugely ameliorate? The reasons to keep fathers in children’s lives are many and there is no real counterargument.

As to Australia’s shared parenting experience anecdotes are not evidence of a rule, nor must they trump human rights. Far from the 2006 reforms being a failure misleadingly reported by the Norgrove review the Australian Institute of Family Studies evaluation concluded that "The philosophy of equal shared parental responsibility is overwhelmingly supported by parents, legal system professionals and service professionals." Litigation rates have fallen and the Equal Parental Responsibility presumption is beneficial and working well for children, including children under 3, according to parents. (Kaspiew, et al 2009) Opinion polls in Australia have confirmed those assessments.

The attached parliamentary speeches by your Australian conservative party counterparts confirm their continuing support for the 2006 legislation that they introduced. In sum, what we saw in Australia was not the failure of shared parenting but the latest round in an ideological struggle orchestrated by anti-shared parenting forces in the Gillard led Labor government that is analogous to a painful and unnecessary courtroom squabble between former spouses. Children’s rights to their mothers and fathers must transcend party politics.

In the light of your well known support of genuine shared parenting we respectfully request that you move the below highlighted revisions to the UK government‘s timid proposal. “As Emery (2007) points out, a legal presumption does not abandon children’s best interests, but provides a clear, evidence-based definition of children’s needs in the divorce transition.” (Kruk 2012)

Proposed Framework

(2A) A court, in the circumstances mentioned in subsection(4)(a) or (7), is as respects each parent within subsection (6)(a) to presume, unless the contrary is shown, that substantial, meaningful involvement of that parent in the life of the child concerned will further the child's welfare.


The term, substantial, meaningful involvement in this part denotes a parenting arrangement in which both parents not only have equal rights and responsibilities for their children's welfare and upbringing, but also have an active role to play in the everyday routines of their children's care and development. Each remain as salient attachment figures in their children’s lives, the child spending substantial but not necessarily equal time with each parent.

Substantial meaningful involvement gives emphasis to maintaining or maximizing the child's emotional psychological and physical well-being as much as possible. The term substantial, meaningful involvement encompasses shared day-to-day care of children and equal authority regarding the children’s education, medical care, and religious upbringing.

For the purposes of subsection (2A), a child will be taken to spend substantial time with a parent only if:

a) The time the child spends with the parent includes both (i) Days and nights that fall on weekends and holidays; and (ii) Days and nights that do not fall on weekends or holidays; and

(b) The time the child spends with the parent allows the parent to be involved in:

(i) The child's daily and nightly routine; and

(ii) Occasions and events that are of particular significance to the child; and

(c) The time the child spends with the parent allows the child to be involved in occasions and events that are of special significance to the parent.

As a highly regarded family values parliamentarian your endorsement of the submitted amendments would be most persuasive and I have included recently published research recommending public policy in favour of shared residential parenting for your consideration. To paraphrase Professor Linda Nielsen (2013) ‘Misconceptions that are not grounded on a broad spectrum of up to date, methodologically sound and statistically important empirical data have an impact on custody decisions and custody laws. By empirical data I mean research studies where quantitative data has been statistically analyzed and published in peer reviewed academic journals – in contrast to articles where opinions or theories are being presented, often without benefit of peer review.’ In that spirit the attached studies present current research refuting erroneous common beliefs related to shared residential parenting.

Yours sincerely,

David Mortimer

Sent on behalf of Joint Parenting Association.

docs/Parenting Time and Shared Residential Custody Ten Common Myths.pdf

docs/Senator George Brandis.pdf

docs/Shared Parenting After Divorce A Review of Shared Residential Parenting Research.pdf

docs/Arguments for an Equal Parental Responsibility Presumption In Contested Child Custody.pdf

docs/Christensen, George, MP.pdf

docs/Mr Simpkins MP.pdf

The 'lost' Section 8 reform 14th June 2006

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2006 1:43 PM
Subject: The 'lost' Section 8 reform

Dear Sarah Leung

The 'Lost' Family Law Reform - the NATC EI project

I now enclose copies of our 'exit' correspondence with the Permanent Secretary at the DfES.

These pages chart the final burial of the intended and agreed reform: the NATC EI project.

You may take the view that this correspondence records a straightforward cover-up by the DfES.

This correspondence relates to the same NATC EI project which you have seen recorded in Family Law. It was this project that the judiciary approved, in detail, and this project which was passed intact to the DfES - where it was discarded without the Ministers' knowledge (the DfES claimed to be taking it forward).

This same NATC EI project is the project that the DfES told DJ Crichton and the Honourable Mrs Justice Bracewell was still being developed.

This NATC EI project bears no relation whatever to the Family Resolutions project, which was produced by the DfES and overseen by DJ Crichton.

The last-named was told by the DfES that the design of the project they told him to build was similar or identical to the NATC EI project which they, the DfES, had received. DJ Crichton was not sufficiently familiar with the origina; project to know that a substitution had been made, and that, in fact, the two projects were opposites.

This same NATC EI project remains deeply-needed. It is this same project which would resolve the private-law difficulties in the family courts. The original implementation team, of high and orthodox calibre, remains ready to proceed. The funding requirement is low. Development time is 6-8 months. The project has already been peer-scrutinised and peer-approved. Detailed paperwork and the appropriate management structures are in existence.

Attempts are in continued furtherance to have this project re-instated as originally designed by the NATC and as originally approved.

Of necessity, these efforts are extra-Governmental.

Judicial control (not Whitehall control) is an absolute imperative.

If you wish to take this matter further, it may be possible to direct you to those in the Establishment who still have the NATC EI project in hand.

Yours sincerely

David Mortimer

Consensus Major Distortions of Family Policy 26th April 2005

Views wanted on child contact agreements 24th June 2004

----- Original Message -----
To: dave.mortimer
Sent: Thursday, June 24, 2004 3:40 PM
Subject: Views wanted on child contact agreements

Dear Mr Mortimer

Thank you for your email of 4 June, addressed to the Prime Minister, about child contact issues. I have been asked to reply on the Prime Minister's behalf. The Government supports the view that children benefit from a continuing relationship with both parents following parental separation, where it is in the best interests of the child and safe for all family members. It is already open to divorcing or separating parents to make what arrangements they consider reasonable for the future of their children. When they are unable to agree, problems can arise and there may be disputes about what level of contact is reasonable. It is only if either parent applies for an order for residence or contact with the child or children in question that the court steps in. The court is required by the Children Act 1989 (the Act) to make the welfare of the child concerned its paramount consideration. In deciding what would be in the best interests of the child, the court has a wide discretion to take account of all the facts and circumstances of each individual case. Decisions are made after the judge has heard and considered all the evidence provided by both parties and any other witnesses, including experts. Both parties are entitled to have their views heard and have the opportunity to respond to any evidence put before the court. If arrangements under a court order do not work out, either parent may, according to the circumstances, apply to the court for the order to be varied, revoked, or enforced. I note your comments on legal presumption of contact however, the Government does not believe that a legal presumption of contact would be helpful. As the principles of the Act focus on the child, and what would be in his/her best interests, a legal presumption of contact would conflict with this principle. A legal presumption would also undermine the ‘no order principle’, which is that the court should only make an order when satisfied that this is better for the child than making no order at all. On 19 March, the Government published its final response to the Children Act Sub-Committee report ‘Making Contact Work’. A copy of this response can be found at the following website address:

We consulted extensively on proposals to support more effectively contact arrangements between children and their non-resident parents. The main outcomes of the report are:- · A new ‘Family Resolutions Pilot Project in London, Brighton and Sunderland to divert families from lengthy and often acrimonious court cases by helping them to agree practical solutions between themselves wherever possible; · An additional £3.5million for child contact centres, including the funding of 14 new supervised contact centres; and · The introduction of new forms to ensure that judges are aware of and address concerns about domestic violence at the start of contact cases The enforcement of court ordered contact continues to be a major issue. This and other issues are being explored in greater detail in work currently being carried out by the Department for Constitutional Affairs with full DfES participation. This work is looking across the board, at how further support for parents can help to ensure the best arrangements for their children. Consideration is also being given as to how post-order arrangements might be improved. The Government hopes to publish specific proposals for consultation this summer.

Thank you for taking the time to write. I hope you find this information helpful.

Yours sincerely

Kabir Ahmed

Families in Change Team

Vulnerable Children Division

----- Original Message -----
From: dave.mortimer
Sent: Friday, June 04, 2004 2:51 PM
Subject: Views wanted on child contact agreements

Dear Prime Minister,

However one looks at the future of divorced couples and their children logic and research is on the side of joint custody as the presumptive first choice. As a society, we must move into the next century armed with realistic custody practices that protect the documented needs of children. Continuation of the defacto presumption for sole custody simply, will not do. The movement for presumptive joint physical custody is a human rights issue and no child should ever be denied their human right to know and love two care-giving parents (except, obviously, in abuse situations). Second, no parent should be denied his or her parental rights (i.e. human rights) without conclusive evidence that the exercise of those rights is destructive of the child. The only way joint physical custody will ever work is with a legal presumption of contact for both parents after separation or divorce and if a resident parent refuses to allow contact, the standard procedure for all courts must be on the first occasion to order a community punishment order, which if broken or contact is refused for a second time must be followed by a jail term and custody being reversed. What is clear from the available evidence is that children in joint physical situations have a much better prognosis for positive post-divorce adjustment (Coller 1988; Doll 1995; Bauserman 2002). In addition to the research concerning child adjustment there are other factors that indicate a rebuttable presumption for joint physical custody is preferable concerning:

Lower divorce rates;

Children are more successfully adjusted overall;

There is less child abuse in joint physical custody situations;

Parents with joint physical custody are less litigious than parents in sole custody;

Parents with joint physical custody are more likely to comply with financial child support obligations;

Joint physical custody benefits both parents and both sets of grandparents;

Parents in joint physical custody are more satisfied with the custodial arrangement, even if they initially disagreed with the custodial decision

Children want Joint physical custody because it allows them to continue their relationship with both parents.All of the studies that sought the views of children indicates that while they would prefer the intact family of origin, they are satisfied with joint physical custody and value the opportunity to continue their relationship with both parents. In Deborah Luepnitz's (1982) work for example, nearly all the joint physical custody children were content with the arrangement. These children echoed the sole physical custody children in responding to the question, "With whom would you have wanted to live after the divorce?" by saying, "With both." Not only were joint physical custody children not confused by the arrangement they were able to cite specific advantages in the two-household lifestyle. They described their arrangement as "more fun, more interesting or more comfortable." A more recent Australian study adds weight to the view that children are better off spending equal time with both parents after divorce. The study is one of the first in Australia to look at how children feel about spending time with their parents. When they were asked how parents should care for children after divorce, the most common answer was "half and half" or "equal." Half also said they wanted more time with their non-resident parents (Parkinson, Cashmore & Single 2003). In a research review Kelly (1988) summarizes children's own descriptions:

· The children continue a daily life with both parents, and they consequently don't become strangers to each other.

· The children feel that it is "Just": neither of the parents is favoured.

· The children are less likely to feel guilty and/or to miss his father.

· The children get to experience that they are loved and important to both parents, which strengthens self-confidence.

· The boys continue to have a father as a role model for identification.

· For small children with frequent changes they can experience that they still live with both parents (this type of contact seems to be best for very young children with their fragile, still-developing emotions.

· There is no risk that contacts with either of the parents will cease in the teenage years.

· It can feel good to "have a rest" from one of the parents (especially for teenagers).

· A divorce is not experienced as a devastating loss, because the child has not lost any love and important person from their daily life (p 133).


Coller D.R (December 1988). Joint Custody: Research, Theory and Policy. 27(4) Family Process pp 259-269. Doll B (14 June 1995). American Psychological Association. Preliminary Summary: Empirical Research Describing Outcomes of Joint Custody. Washington DC. Bauserman R (2002). Child Adjustment In Joint Custody Verses Sole-Custody Arrangements: A Meta-Analytic Review. 16(1) Journal Of Family Psychology. Kelly J. B (1988a). Longer-Term Adjustment In Children of Divorce: Converging Findings and Implications For Practice. Journal of Family Psychology. 2: 119-140. Luepnitz D. A (1982). Child Custody: A Study of Families After Divorce. Lexington Books: Massachusetts. p 46 & 47. Also see Luepnitz D. A (1986). A Comparison of Maternal, Paternal, and Joint Custody: Understanding the Varieties of Post-Divorce Family Life. Journal of Divorce. 9(3): 1-12. Note: 5 Family Law Report (1979) at 2395. Parkinson P, Cashmore J & Single J (2003). Adolescents' Views on the Fairness of Parenting and Financial Arrangements After Separation. Faculty of Law, University of Sydney

It is unsatisfactory for contact orders to be flouted with impunity 26th September 2002