Gov Debate – #wco Family Courts (Commons Debate: General Matters)


Selous, Andrew raised an interesting point.

Subjects: Family Courts; Justice; NRP Rights

Christmas is a time that parents look forward to celebrating with their children when they can. However, for many parents that is not possible-and I am thinking not only of our troops in Afghanistan, but of the 3 million children in this country who live apart from a parent and, in particular, of those who are caught in the family justice system. I think particularly of non-resident parents who are trying to get access to or have contact time, as it is called, with their children. This issue also affects grandparents, aunts and uncles to a very great degree.

Sadly, it is abundantly clear that the present family justice system is much too slow. Its processes are greatly abused by parents with no penalty or sanctions applied. It is far too expensive in many cases. One of my constituents, a father, came to see me to say that he had spent more than £8,000 obtaining a court-sanctioned contact order to see his children. He did not abuse that order, but it was not honoured and he could not get it upheld by the courts or the police. Unsurprisingly, he was then short of money to pay maintenance as he wanted to do.

The most vivid example of the failure to honour a court order came from a warrant officer who came to see me. He took his civilian overcoat off and underneath he was in uniform. On his chest was his badge of office-a crown, as those who have served in the armed forces will know-and he put the court order on the table in front of me with the crown of the court on it, stipulating that he should have time with his children every other weekend. That court order was not honoured, and it was not upheld by the police or the courts. He felt deeply let down.

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Published: 21/12/2010 00:00:00


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