Jone Da Cruz
A Hackney resident organised a protest to raise awareness about fathers’ rights and parental alienation.
Jone Da Cruz has first-hand experience of the family courts system having just represented himself in court to win custody of his son.
He was joined by other parents and children on August 8, outside Downing Street. Many who attended shared their stories of being separated from their children, paying hefty fees for lawyers and visitation centres and, feeling let down by the legal system.
Jone told the Gazette: “I’m trying to bring awareness. Let’s work with the government and find ways to avoid this from happening - it should be easy to get to see your child.”
ONS data from 2019 reveals lone fathers account for 24 per cent of all lone parents so the majority of single-parent households are headed by women.
While other factors may contribute to this disparity Jone believes the family court system is in need of reform as lawyers have a financial incentive to draw out separation proceedings to the detriment of all those personally involved.
“That’s what the protest was all about. Parents that went through [the family courts system] have gone through it with family members, because when a parent is alienated - and it’s usually the father - the grandparents are alienated, any siblings as well. It affects the children and everyone involved.”
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MP for Shipley Philip Davies has campaigned to get parental alienation included in domestic abuse legislation and in July it was included in newly-released draft guidance from the government.
Parental alienation is described as the act of keeping a child away from one of its parents without good reason.
A report by the Centre For Social Justice from 2013 showed more than one million children in the UK were growing up without their fathers yet the number of lone parent fathers has grown by 22% since 1999, according to ONS data.
Back in 2013, in a Children and Family Bill it was announced that ministers would strengthen the law to ensure children have a relationship with both their parents after family separation where that is safe and in the child’s interest.
Jone intends to continue raising awareness for fathers’ rights and the impact of parental alienation on families across the nation.
Meanwhile, a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “All decisions in the family courts will be made in the interests of the child. Disputes are resolved as soon as is safely possible.”
The government department stated some parents may be asked to pay a contribution towards visitation centres if they are not state-funded and the government has recently announced a package of “sweeping” reforms so the family courts can better support domestic abuse victims and children.
For government advice on parental rights and responsibilities click here
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