Child’s right to see an absent father: Law to help millions from broken  homes

  • Government to draw up radical changes to the  1989 Children’s Act
  • £10m will be pledged to help couples settle  out of court
  • Figures show one in five children lose  contact with a parent after separation

By James Chapman UPDATED:19:14 EST, 2 February 2012

Millions of children from broken homes are to  be granted new rights to a ‘full and continuing relationship’ with both their  parents.

The move is designed to ensure that the  parent who leaves the family home – most commonly the father – cannot be cut out  of their children’s lives following an acrimonious separation.

Ministers have decided that a change in the  law is vital in the face of heartbreaking evidence that huge numbers of  youngsters whose families split up lose contact with one parent for  ever.

Ministers decided a change in the law is vital to prevent youngsters whose families split up from losing contact with a parentMinisters decided a change in the law is vital to  prevent youngsters whose families split up from losing contact with a parent

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke have been at odds over the proposals
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke have been at odds over the proposals

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Justice Secretary  Kenneth Clarke have been at odds over the proposals

Courts will be put under a duty to ensure  that unless their welfare is threatened by staying in touch with either their  mother or father, children have an ‘equal right to a proper relationship with  both’.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith  and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have dismissed objections from Justice  Secretary Kenneth Clarke and overturned the findings of a major review of family  law which was published last year.

On Monday, the Government will announce a  ministerial working group that will draw up radical changes to the 1989 Children  Act.

The Act states that the child’s needs come  first in law courts, but campaigners for fathers’ rights complain that judges  repeatedly pander to the idea that mothers are ‘more important’ than  fathers.

Unmarried fathers say they are often at a  particular disadvantage, having to apply for a ‘parental responsibility order’  through a court or have one granted through an agreement with the  mother.

‘The Act is going to be rewritten,’ said a  Government source. ‘The welfare of children must of course remain paramount – but alongside that there will be an equal right for a child to have a proper  relationship with both parents.

Children's Minister Tim Loughton said courts are 'rarely the best place' for resolving conflicts between parents about the care of children
Children's Minister Tim Loughton said courts are 'rarely the best place' for resolving conflicts between parents about the care of children

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton (right) said courts are  ‘rarely the best place’ for resolving conflicts between parents about the care  of children

‘There should be no inbuilt legal bias  towards the father or mother, and where there are no welfare issues, we want to  see this principle reinforced through law.

‘This is about children. We want to be clear  that both parents should have a full and continuing role in their children’s  life after a separation.’

Ministers will pledge £10million for  mediation services to encourage more couples to settle their disputes out of  court.

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton told the  Mail: ‘The courts are rarely the best place for resolving private disputes about  the care of children. That’s why we want to see greater use of mediation to  solve parental disputes out of court.

Betrayal of the family

‘It is also right that we continue to  encourage fathers to take responsibility as equal parents and to be fully  involved with their children from the outset.’

The decision overturns the main finding of a  family justice review, conducted for the Ministry of Justice by businessman  David Norgrove, which was published in November.

It concluded that giving fathers shared or  equal time, or even the right to maintain a meaningful relationship  with  their children, ‘would do more harm than good’.

The proposals immediately sparked a Cabinet  revolt, led by Mr Duncan Smith and Mr Clegg, who insisted that the law must be  amended to strengthen fathers’ rights.

Official figures show that one in five  children from broken homes lose touch with their absent parent, usually their  father, within three years and never see them again.

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News reports like this are extremely worrisome to U.S. left-behind parents as well as parents in other countries with abducted dual citizen children being held in Japan.  A number of these children are believed to be living in or very near the Fukushima radiation zone.  The best interests of the child need to be considered by both the Japanese and foreign governments in cases such as this where the child’s future health is at risk.  Particularly troubling is the finding that “abnormal” traits doubled among the second generation born, with radiation damage intensifying in future generations.–abc-news-topstories.html

Japan Nuclear Accident: ‘Abnormalities’ in Butterflies Traced to Fukushima Plant

By Akiko Fujita | ABC News – Mon, Aug 13, 2012

Japanese scientists say “abnormalities” detected in the country’s butterflies may be a result of radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year. In a study published in Scientific Reports, an online journal, researchers say “artificial radionuclides” from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant caused “physiological and genetic damage” to pale grass blue butterflies.

Scientists first began tracking common butterflies around the nuclear plant two months after the disaster. They collected 121 insects, and found 12 percent of them had unusually small wings. That number jumped more than 5 percent when butterflies collected from the plant site had offspring of their own.

In another group of butterflies collected six months after the disaster, scientists found 28 percent had “abnormal” traits. That number nearly doubled among the second generation born.

“At the time of the accident, the populations of this species were overwintering as larvae and were externally exposed to artificial radiation,” the researchers wrote in their study. “It is possible that they ate contaminated leaves during the spring and were thus also exposed to internal radiation.”

It has been 17 months after the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, and its effects on human health have largely been considered minimal, with no radiation-related deaths or illnesses reported so far. But traces of radioactive cesium exceeding government safety levels have been detected in seafood off the Fukushima coast, limiting the catch for fisherman there.

Tiny amounts of cesium of 137 and cesium 134 were detected in more than a dozen bluefin tuna caught near San Diego in August last year. The levels were 10 times higher than tuna found in previous years, but well below those the Japanese and US governments considered harmful to human health.

Below is a link to a condensed version of a Japanese court video that up to now has been available through the Japanese courts on a highly restricted basis.  This video openly talks about the importance of access to one’s child after separation.  It hopefully reflects a step in the right direction in Japanese court attitudes regarding a child’s access to both parents after a separation or divorce.
For anyone with children in Japan, this short film, “blind,” is very powerful, and very scary, as it doesn’t seem all that unrealistic to imagine.
This map by Japanese professor Yukio Hayakawa suggests that the nuclear contamination that came from Fukushima may be pretty widespread, including the Tokyo metropolitan region.

Kevin Brown is riding his bike through Japan and visiting local government officials to educate them about children’s rights to both parents:





This study runs counter to the conventional wisdom and conventional practice in Japan, where it is routinely assumed children of divorce and separation are better off with the noncustodial parent completely removed from their lives.