MAKING A DIFFERENCE – HOW TO USE DEMOCRACY
Making our voices heard
What is this about?
It’s about the first step towards change in the family court system. Big changes take many years and even then often do not happen. Look at the last family justice review if you do not believe me.
What is the background?
One of the people we were privileged to meet when we were in the Houses of Parliament for the NAAP launch was a lawyer named Oliver Cyriax. Oliver will be known to many who have followed the history of family law reform. He has been highly influential and is on the edge of a breakthrough with his latest campaign.
Andrew Bridgen is the MP for North West Leicestershire who sponsored our event on the 7th of March. Andrew has been a tireless supporter for family law reform and is now gathering a group of MP’s to bring about much needed change by supporting Oliver’s proposals.
Oliver’s proposal is simple and does not require any new laws. It only requires guidance in order to position the goal posts and make it clear to everyone how much contact to expect when relationships fail.
What can I do?
If you care about family law reform then please read on. But please be aware that change requires little effort from ALL OF US and if you just want to play the victim without doing anything else then carry on doing just that and hope your kids might be mad enough to want to bother with you when they reach pension age.
If you want your MP to do something about changing the law then you just email them right?
Yet another email to your mp will usually get an automated response (if you are lucky) and absolutely ZERO if you are not. To get the ears of these elusive but influential people (that you normally only see at election time) requires a little more effort and, just like the family court, the more you put in the more you get out.
The one thing we have done is pay attention to how groups that DO achieve and HAVE achieved things go about business.
How do they do it?
Well, they publish reports as we have done and will continue doin. Additionally, their members do NOT confine themselves to keyboard wars. No, they actually go and see their mp’s to encourage them to do what their constituents would like. This is a novel idea called democracy but if all you want to do is whine and shout at the wind about how hard done by you are then carry on doing nothing and expecting change. Einstein recognised that this was actually a sign of madness.
On the other hand, if you like your kids enough to want a better world for then read on some more.
Sure, I want change so what should I do Next?
Step 1 – Here is a link to find the name of your MP. http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/ (If you already know their name you can input this to get the next details you will need to proceed to Step 2). Input your post code or MP’s Name or constituency name.
Hey presto! Your MP’s name and contact details will appear.
Step 2 – Note the email address, twitter address, parliament telephone numbers and constituency office telephone numbers. Contact them all and do not give up contacting them until you have managed to get through and then insist upon making an appointment for a meeting. Do not be fobbed off. If you are and you have been assertive and polite and still can’t get a meeting then please let us know and we will cheerfully name and shame the lazy MP’s concerned.
NOTE: While you are about it, Copy and paste a link to our report. Or, print out a copy to take with you and give it to your MP at the meeting.
Step 3 – Print out the e mail letter and cosignatory letter at the foot of this post and take them with you to your meeting with your MP for them to sign and send to Andrew Bridgen MP. You can also email it to them for information beforehand.
Step 4 – We will provide a fact sheet of important points for you to raise with your MP. Take this with you and read it beforehand to get a guide of what you need to say.
When you’ve done this please let us know. Pour yourself a glass of your favourite drink, give yourself a pat on the back and smile because:
You have just taken the first step towards MAKING A REAL DIFFERENCE! Thank you.
We will shortly be providing other tools you will need to lobby your MP’s effectively.
This email from Andrew Bridgen MP has been sent to the parliamentary inbox of every UK MP.
From: “BRIDGEN, Andrew” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Family Law: a straightforward reform – letter for co-signature
Date: 20 February 2018 10:18:47 GMT
Family Law Reform – attainable now: there is a solution
‘Access-disputes‘ in the family courts: letter for co-signature
Our family court system has many critics. Fathers complain they can’t see their children. Mothers speak of harassment. Parents can spend years in court.
There is a straightforward solution to most of these difficulties.
A specific ‘stand-alone’ fault in the family law system has been identified, and, it can
easily be put right.
A turnkey reform is ready-to-go. It entails the first introduction of elementary guidelines – of the kind everyone assumes are already in place. Support for the project includes Sir Paul Coleridge on behalf of the Marriage Foundation.
To put the initiative on the road, we need a group of say a dozen MPs to co-sign a letter requesting a meeting with the Minister, Lucy Frazer QC.
I attach a copy ‘Cosignatory Letter’ for your consideration, please let me know that you will assist by signing.
MP North West Leicestershire
Long-overdue reform is readily attainable. Legislation is not required. A fully-specified pilot project has senior judicial approval: “The Pilot does not involve a huge investment; it would achieve savings in money and court time; it should produce much better outcomes. It would be incomprehensible if the Pilot Project did not receive official sanction”. This initiative is not about “men’s rights”, or “women’s rights”. It is about preventing damage to children.
The Missing Link
The lynchpin of the private family law system is an agency called CAFCASS. Its role is to advise the Courts and the separating parents, case-by-case, on how much access should be allowed – in the child’s best interests. The duration of this access is the issue before the courts – and, CAFCASS’s CEO has reconfirmed that CAFCASS still has no preliminary view (or guidelines) on this issue. CAFCASS (estd 2001, annual spend £120m) will not address this basic failing, which fuels the damaging litigation with which we are all familiar, wasting hundreds of millions a year. Family law, built on CAFCASS, is built on sand. The remedy is straightforward, as per the 5 December briefing in Portcullis House (attached).
Ask your MP if they will talk to Andrew, and, sign this joint letter (Below)
Text for MPs ‘co-signatory letter’ to the Minister (Lucy Frazer) requesting a meeting –
Dear Lucy Frazer
An Opportunity for Immediate Family Law Reform – Legislation not Required
The Children of Divorce or Separation – The Children Act 1989 Section 8
As you know, a number of MPs are keen to lend their support to delivering reform for the ‘Children of Divorce or Separation’ (Section 8). The underlying problem in this sector is straightforward:
there is no guidance for the parents undergoing separation or divorce on what level of post-separation contact is in the child’s best interests.
Cafcass have recently re-confirmed that they have no guidelines on this topic (i.e., on the issue in dispute). The introduction of authoritative guidance would:
– reduce parental conflict;
– reduce the pressure on the courts.
A judicially-approved pilot project is on standby to deliver both objectives. In the words of the presiding High Court judge:
“The Pilot does not involve a huge investment; it would achieve savings in money and court time; it should produce much better outcomes… It would be incomprehensible if the Pilot Project did not receive official sanction”
The support of the incumbent President is on the record.
This project (known as the NATC ‘Early Interventions’ [EI] project) does not cross any lines. Cafcass and Whitehall confirm that they have no plans for anything similar. EI resolves many problems going unresolved to the next review. Legislation is not required: it is merely a matter of asking the senior judiciary to proceed.
Can we schedule a meeting in Parliament to talk this through?
Member of Parliament for xx
Please cut and paste this letter for signature and Please get in touch with Andrew Bridgen if you wish to sign. Thank you.