The curious thing about this right to a family life is that it does not include law-abiding parents, grandparents or children. Thousands of them suffer every year because according to our laws they have no right to see or spend time with their closest blood relatives and nothing has been done about this. While people argue about the right to adopt, there is at present no presumption in law that a child needs both its parents or that a parent ought to be able to have a relationship with their own biological child. When cases about divorce, maintenance, custody, residence, access and visiting go to court the result is often that one parent cannot prove their need or their fitness to see their own child and so gets excluded.
I personally know people who have suffered terribly because of this. They recount horrendous experiences with CAFCASS or with unreasonable judges who insulted them and made them feel they were a nuisance. They are not all men, though the pressure to change the present laws has come largely from groups such as Fathers for Justice. They are parents who have been accused of misconduct by a former spouse, or who have never married the other parent of their children. They may even be awarded visiting rights but these amount to nothing and the agreement is not honoured. It is easy to move away and give no contact details. One father I know has never seen his daughter since she was four years old. She is now 23. He looks at pictures of her on the internet via Facebook. I am not defending fathers who try to evade maintenance costs, or those who try to separate the child from the mother. I am talking about people who are willing to play ball but are excluded because of the other parent's attitude and the unhelpfulness of the law.
Lawyers are scared to assert that "a child needs a mother and a father" because that is seen as attacking the rights of single parents, so it is non-PC. Maybe the feminist movement contributed to this situation. Now at last there is a move to change the law and a new Children and Families Bill is being mooted, that makes it harder to exclude one parent from contact with their child.
Biological parenthood must not be diminished. It is highly significant. Families are not just tax-brackets, they are organic. There is a lot of our parents in us and a lot of us in our children. We need to know about our ancestors to understand everything from our medical history to our cultural roots. When we talk about child poverty, why don't we consider deprivation like this to be one form of poverty?
Here it is, the latest update on the Bill....
The Committee is going to be hearing oral evidence on Tuesday 5th March (tomorrow), and Thursday 7 March and then consider the Bill every Tuesday and Thursday from that point, concluding on Tuesday 23 April.
You can check out the long list of witnesses on the Parliament website homepage (The Fatherhood Institute is giving evidence, but no equal and opposite side for mothers, most odd), and all the other things going on over the next few days.