anyone had fathers for justice in contact case

(20 Posts)
Spero Tue 11-Mar-14 16:11:13

Families need fathers is a respectable and respected group. The BNP and F4J are not and include in their ranks people of very questionable psychological stability.

It is not denying people 'freedom of association' to say that warning bells would be ringing very loudly for me if any MF opponent was a member of such groups. I don't think they should be allowed access to any vulnerable people in family cases.

lostdad Tue 11-Mar-14 15:27:55

Spero `And certainly if a MF was a member of particular groups - such as the BNP - I would consider that very relevant'.

I am not sure if you could equate membership of the BNP with the likes of F4J. And besides freedom of association is a fundamental human right.

I would say that membership of a legal organisation is irrelevant while their conduct is. I've had (a few) legal professionals highlight my membership of Families Need Fathers as relevant.

By contrast no judges or magistrates have ever commented on it (although it is clearly listed on my CV). I cannot begin to speculate what is behind this disparity in attitude.

As for the removal of public funding...it isn't going to come back as it's such a large saving. It's no surprise mediation has gone through the floor - with many people only attending because of it being a pre-requisite of gaining legal aid.

Now that incentive has been removed - combined with a recalcitrant RP having no intention to compromise or negotiate with a NRP and hence having no reason to go to mediation it is hardly surprising. After all...why would you negotiate if you are in control and have what you want.

My personal opinion is that the elephant in the room is the adversarial and `winner takes all' environment of the Family Courts will only change when there is a presumption of shared parenting (and for the record I mean `shared parenting' and not the `50:50 joint custody' thing people usually tell me they want).

If I could give one piece of advice to anyone who is at loggerheads with their ex would be `try to sort it out yourselves if at all possible because court is rarely the best solution'. I have people have tried to help...tried to help them avoid court with the benefit of mediation, consent orders, etc. only for it to end up in an expensive and painful court case because one (or both!) parties have listened to the advice of `their mates' or a legal professional about `what you are entitled to' and before you know it the applications and correspondence has been flying.

Absolutely tragic. sad

Spero Tue 11-Mar-14 13:25:05

I agree that experience of horrible family proceedings doesn't automatically rule you out as being able to offer someone else help and advice.

But I remain very troubled by the MF I meet. There appears to be very little 'quality control' being exercised as to who can set themselves up as such or advertise their services, even when a court has made previous serious findings against them.

And certainly if a MF was a member of particular groups - such as the BNP - I would consider that very relevant.

But we urgently need to look at this issue as the removal of public funding for the majority of contact/residence proceedings is going to exacerbate the problem.

lostdad Tue 11-Mar-14 10:56:44

Spero `People who have gone through acrimonious family proceedings are usually the LAST people you want helping you as I don't doubt they have been very emotionally damaged by their experiences.'

I can't say I agree completely.

Undoubtedly there are angry people who have been through court and their words and action are coloured by their experiences and shouldn't be there.

I know others who, because they have first hand experience, are excellent McKenzie Friends. I have also met legal professionals who quite frankly shouldn't be in the courts too though!

It's wrong to think of McKenzie Friends a substitute for solicitors or barristers. There are not. They're chalk and cheese. A solicitor has automatic rights of audience while a McKenzie Friend doesn't. A solicitor isn't available outside office hours while McKenzie Friends usually are. A solicitor can act as an agent...a McKenzie Friend can't.

Many of the people I assist are happy with the help provide because while they are entirely in control of their case and familiar with it (more so than a barrister who has been engaged the night before a hearing!) I can help with all paperwork and advise on procedure. I can tell them the gap between what happens in theory...and in practice. I can tell them about the empirical evidence about the advisability of certain actions.

I've been through the court process and it was hard on me. It has coloured my actions...which means I take late night calls from a dad who is wondering if his children will see him in a few months time or whether he will have somewhere to live. I was on hand to reassure him. I've assisted mums who have had abusive exs threatening to abduct the kids and keep taking her back to court.

At the end of the day a court case is one of the worst experiences someone can go through and I hope my help makes things a little more manageable for people. It's horrible and I know how much help I got off my McKenzie Friend when things were darkest and want to help people in the same way I was helped.

STIDW Mon 10-Mar-14 23:49:54

I'm not a lawyer but I agree with Spero. All too often MFs can't see the wood for the trees and cases become more heated than necessary because they are too emotionally involved. That's a disservice to fathers (encouraging aggression and feelings of entitlement) and children as well as mothers.

lost dad wrote;

*A McKenzie Friend is not permitted to represent an organisation but like anyone else they can be a member of one. So if the MF in question happens to be a member of F4J that is incidental: If he is a `F4J McKenzie Friend' (if there is such a thing) he isn't.

If you have concerns, raise them in court. There are good McKenzie Friends and bad ones (I like to think I am in the latter) like there are good and bad solicitors.*

In this particular case though the MF in question assists in running a service endorsed by Real Fathers for Justice (not F4J) so it isn't just incidental. If he is abusive it reflects badly on the whole organisation and fathers groups in general.

Spero Sat 08-Mar-14 17:45:34

Just looked at his website and found this

With a background in marketing, John first encountered Family Courts after his own acrimonious divorce. He studied for a law degree and has since helped many fathers and mothers with their family court proceedings.

People who have gone through acrimonious family proceedings are usually the LAST people you want helping you as I don't doubt they have been very emotionally damaged by their experiences.

Inshock73 Sat 08-Mar-14 13:43:48

I agree with Spero, you haven't stated your name, the name of your child, the name of your ex, the area you live in etc... we have no idea who you are! Don't worry.

Spero Sat 08-Mar-14 11:58:34

I can't see you being in trouble with anyone for this thread. You haven't named your child and you are entitled to be upset about this mans behaviour.

mumandboys123 Sat 08-Mar-14 11:46:05

your case is more than likely identifiable by what you have said here - making your children 'public knowledge'. I would personally ask for this thread to be deleted and start another with less identifiable information it. If a judge gets wind of this, it'll be you that gets it, regardless of how unprofessional this McKenzie friend might be.

Spero Sat 08-Mar-14 10:41:25

There are some links on this site, including to the 2010 Practice Guidance about what is and isn't allowed for McKenzie friends.
www.childprotectionresource.org.uk/what-if-i-dont-have-a-lawyer/

I have only had MF as opponents in a handful of cases but sadly I have to say that I have not found them helpful. In children cases they seem to over identify with their clients emotionally and I worry that a lot of them have background as a party to disputed contact proceedings; one of the most psychologically disturbed fathers I ever dealt with, I was horrified to see he was popping up on some website as a McKenzie friend...

If you don't have a lawyer and you ask the court to get rid of this man on the basis that he is shouting and being intimidating, I would expect the court to be very sympathetic to your request. If you do have a lawyer, the feeling might be that your lawyer should be able to protect you.

Its utterly unacceptable on any basis to be abusive to anyone in the court environment so I hope the court takes a hard line.

John Ison the UKIP member?

He has a very cheap website.

Lioninthesun Fri 07-Mar-14 23:51:00

I don't know specifics but I would say you both need to make it known that these MF's are approaching you outside of the courtroom in a manner which you are not comfortable with. You don't know these people and they have only heard the other parties' side, so why they imagine you would want to talk or co-operate with them is beyond me. From what I understand they are there to support your exes, not get directly involved unless they feel their party needs them to stand up on their behalf. That should not include shouting abuse or approaching you, IMO.

bochead Fri 07-Mar-14 23:39:28

At 13 & 14 your kids are old enough to be seen by a cafcass officer seperately and for their views to be taken into account.

For both of you - ask at your local police station what can be done about these men. You'd d it they were intimdating you like this in any other sphere of life, so I don't see what makes a court waiting room exempt.

Springbreaze1969 Fri 07-Mar-14 23:29:22

I'm had a first hearing with my ex last week. I was contacted by email 2 days before by his MF on the court day (I went alone) he came and sat next to me and insisted on discussing the case prior to going into court. I became very upset and felt intimidated. He waiting outside the toilet when I came out and came into court with my Ex. He told me that he had prior sanction from the judge to attend so I did not raise it whilst in the hearing. He has since emailed me asking to communicate further. I do not want him contacting me but don't want to appear difficult in the eyes of the court. My children are 13 and 14 and do not want to see their father for valid reasons that the MF clearly is unaware of. We were directed to CAFCASS separated parent lessons and a review in 8 weeks. Does anyone have advise as to what contact he is allowed to have with me and should I ignore or reply to his email.

Thanks in anticipation

betterthanever Sat 14-Sep-13 21:37:26

OP other than some good advice from a mcKensie friend on here, I don't know a lot about them. But I have experience of a sort of similar situation I am still in.
Whilst what you describe isn't helpful, my advice would be to concentrate on your case - if there is abuse in the waiting area then note it and report at the appropriate time, it will come.
Are cafcass involved? at 9 your DS will have a say in this case.
You will read a lot of horror stories and there are plenty of parents treated badly by the current system but for now please try and keep the faith that the court will serve your DS's best interests.
Please don't let intimidation get to you which I know is very hard to do - for one can you sit in an interview room instead of the main waiting area? the only occassion I sat in the main area I got abuse - I don't sit there anymore. Your ex will try to get you angry that way you will not be able to deliver your case as effectively - you will get your chance to report what has gone on but in the meantime try and reduce the opportunity he or his support has for communicating with you.
The main thing is your DS and how he feels and why you think that is and how this can move forward.

No experience just signing in to show support. Sounds like a nightmare hmm

lostdad Fri 13-Sep-13 20:25:27

It is up to the judge whether a McKenzie Friend is admitted into court but there is a strong presumption that a litigant is entitled to assistance and `equity of arms'. Furthermore they do not have automatic rights of audience: It is at the judge's discretion whether this is permitted and the onus is on the litigant in person to justify why this is required (not being able to speak English, being hard of hearing, speech impediments are examples).

Recording is completely out under any circumstances however.

That said - there are rules (google McKenzie Friend President Directions) they need to follow.

A McKenzie Friend is not permitted to represent an organisation but like anyone else they can be a member of one. So if the MF in question happens to be a member of F4J that is incidental: If he is a `F4J McKenzie Friend' (if there is such a thing) he isn't.

If you have concerns, raise them in court. There are good McKenzie Friends and bad ones (I like to think I am in the latter) like there are good and bad solicitors. The MF should as a matter of course provide a short CV describing his skills and experience which is submitted to the court before the hearing and a copy should be provided to your solicitor before you see a judge.

theunashamedow Fri 13-Sep-13 19:54:29

Yes usher heard it; spoke with cab but they said discretion of judge re mck friend; I check court guidance and mck fnot supposed to address court; but recording a criminal offense
Question is will I alienate judge if I complain?

NumTumDeDum Fri 13-Sep-13 19:38:46

It is up to the judge whether a McKenzie friend is allowed into the hearing. At no point is a MF to represent a party. There is a guidance note on this on the Court Service website. I've no chance of linking it on my phone I'll try later. Your best bet is to post this in legal where you will find a number of practising solicitors frequent the board. I am a solicitor but not currently practising. Keep a note of everything. Did the court usher overhear any of the abuse?

theunashamedow Fri 13-Sep-13 19:33:54

Exp emigrated in 2006, reappeared in 2010, saw my son, total emotional disaster, ds refusing contect and now self representing in contact application

Exp mckenzie frined is john ison for ffj. Anyone know about his background as trying to get him kicked out. He shouted abuse is waiting room on all hearings, exp no show this week so he addressed judge and recorded session.

What a cunt! Any info or advice welcome

And my son not white and him racist ukip candidate

Help! I feel sick about what will happen to me and my ds 9 years old

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now