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FNF and the Lib Dems

Families Need Fathers (an organisation which has a number of mothers as members) has been in existance for a number of years.

There was a joint meeting between FNF and the Lib Dems yesterday at which they raised a number of questions including that of grandparents where relationships come to an end.

I have tended to concentrate on public family law, but the problems there are often similar to those in private family law and cases often overlap.

The party does not have a detailed policy in this area and perhaps we should look at doing this. However, there are some principles that I think should apply.

Firstly, as it stands the system of laws etc create an environment which encourages paople to split up. Benefits and taxes all encourage splits rather than encouraging people to remain together. A priority has to be to avoid instability.

Secondly, if people do split up there needs to be a default position which encourages both parents to cooperate in the interests of children. Far too often children are used as pawns to continue a relationship dispute. Those situations that end up best are those where parents cooperate.

Thirdly, basic rights of involvement need to exist without going to court. There should be an assumption that it is a duty for separated parents to facilitiate the other parent being involved in their child's life.

Fourthly, the three aspects of relationship breakdown that of the divorce settlement, the funding for child support and any remaining issues in respect of child care should be resolved together. The default may be a more forumulaic approach with any variations from this by agreement.

As a consequence of these principles schools and doctors should involve both parents. Obviously there will be some circumstances under which one parent should be excluded, but these circumstances should be established on the basis of evidence as a reason to move from the default position.

It is also important to ensure that people are not rewarded for false allegations.

Other issues such as the rights of grandparents are shared with public family law.

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