You can’t circumvent the system

family law

We call it the ‘family justice system’. The third of those words is important: it is a complete system, designed to dispense family justice. That means that it provides everything required to thoroughly investigate matters relating to family justice, including procedures to review decisions and to ensure that, subject to any such review, those decisions are final.

Now, like any system it is not perfect. Mistakes can be made. We all know that. A good system cannot prevent all mistakes, but it can ensure that they are kept to a minimum, and that most mistakes are rectified. I know there are some who will disagree, but I think that the majority of those who know about our family justice system believe that, whilst it may have its flaws, it is essentially a good system.

Even if the system isn’t perfect, though, the important thing is that it is the system that applies to all who use it. Everyone going to family law knows what awaits them: how the system will endeavour to resolve their dispute. Litigants may not be equal in terms of access to legal representation, but they are all subject to the same set of rules that governs the system. That is how it is, and that is how it should be.

There are some, however, who beg to differ. The system is not for them, so they seek to circumvent it by some means. There are various methods that they resort to. Perhaps the most common is appealing to the media, in the hope that a media outcry will influence the courts. A similar one is the use of social media, attempting to drum up a public outcry that will reach the ears of our judges.

Over the weekend I came across another example, again taking advantage of modern information technology: the online petition. This particular example related to the Samantha Baldwin case, in which the mother of two boys ran away with them when it became clear to her that the court had found her allegations that the boys’ father had sexually abused them to be unproven. Those allegations had been thoroughly tested by the court over a twelve day hearing and found by the judge to be false.

Now, it is of course still possible that the judge could be wrong. However, there is a remedy for that built into the system: the right of appeal. Whether Ms Baldwin will exercise that right I do not know. However, a few misguided souls have decided that the appeal system can be circumvented, by the use of an online petition. The petition, at one of the well-known online petition sites, calls upon the Attorney General and the Home Secretary “to swiftly intervene in the case of Samantha Baldwin to protect her young sons … by ensuring that a full and thorough investigation is undertaken by an independent police force into the credible and corroborated allegations of child sexual abuse made against Samantha’s ex-husband”. The petitioners also “urge the President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales, the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Munby, to ensure that full legal custody of the boys is immediately returned to Samantha and to assign a new, unbiased judge to her case”. “These actions”, they say, “are necessary in the interests of justice and the protection of children, as well as the protection of Samantha and her boys.” At the time of writing this post the petition has attracted 2,425 supporters.

They are deluded. The system will not, and cannot, be circumvented in this way.

Now, I have no doubt that Ms Baldwin feels terribly aggrieved at the judge’s decision. The judge himself said that she genuinely believed that her allegations were true, despite that belief being irrational and the evidence of abuse being unreliable. She may well think that the judge was biased. But none of that gives her, or her supporters, the right to circumvent the system, and nor should it give her such a special privilege. The system provides her with a course of action if she is aggrieved at the decision, and that is to lodge an appeal. The system will even allow her to produce any fresh evidence she may have to the appeal court, in certain circumstances.

The use of some external ‘force’, such as the media or the public, to influence the outcome of a case is nothing short of an attempt at mob rule. A petition can have as many supporters as it wishes, but that does not mean they are all right. They have not seen all of the evidence, and even if they had they are not trained to properly evaluate it. Remember, there is another side to this story: the father’s side. He is equally entitled to a fair hearing, and that was provided to him by the family justice system. To deny him that by mob rule would be equivalent to a public lynching.

Photo by Toms Baugis via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

John Bolch

John Bolch often wonders how he ever became a family lawyer. He no longer practises, but has instead earned a reputation as one of the UK's best-known family law bloggers.

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18 comments

Lee - April 19, 2017 at 1:39pm

One thing that pains me in relation to child proceedings. The consensus that the advocates give 99 % assistance in the decision of the court. One charity advocacy , mentioning no names , who rely on funding . Funding given based on figures/results . Funded also by local authorities that would follow up on recommendations of section 37 . An advocacy that has one agenda and once their side is taken , stays there side no matter what . No complaints procedure until final hearing . Which by then they have continued their bias and blinkered eyes right through until final hearings . How can this process be justice without even a complaints policy . No wonder the women fleas ! The system is horrific .

Vincent McGovern - April 19, 2017 at 2:33pm

Much as I disagree with John Bolch about our different views on UK Family Justice System and having twice addressed the European Parliament Petitions Commission on it’s motion ‘Systemic Failings In UK Family Justice System,’ I entirely agree with him regarding this mob rule petition. To many especially so many women the very idea that a father should have parenting time with his children is abhorrent. From what I have read about this sad case it is obvious that the mother needs help because of her delusional mental state. And if the much abused expression ‘welfare of the child’ means anything, surely it means the child or children should be protected from such severe emotional abuse as these children have been subjected to by their mother.

Paul - April 19, 2017 at 3:16pm

This just angers me to read this.
Family courts set out with an agenda. Fathers are treated as criminals from the outset. The whole proccess is bias towards females. Statistics bear that statement out without question.
There is no evidence at all which would compel anyone to say I am anything other than a good father.
But I still find myself removed from my kids life and begging for a way back in.
The couragious men who expose this on the internet. Are heros. Shedding light in a very dark corner. I salute every one of them.
Mob rule or sexist descrimnatory dictatorship (behind closed doors), exploitation racket. The whole proccess is morally bankrupt.
Non of these things work for familys. Make britain better or families better. Just make a few legal professionals wealthy.
I am in final hearing very soon.
My expectations are very low.
I anticipate they will not let me say 1% of what needs to be said. Then declaire I have offered no evidence. An I will lose my kids at the stroke of a pen.

FAMILY COURTS ARE THE NEW WITCH TRIALS.

If I had not been through it.
I would not believe it.
(*Comment edited – please see our moderation policy here).

Cameron Paterson - April 19, 2017 at 3:30pm

Paul – as previously discussed, it is not a good idea to keep attaching your full name to your comments, given that you have an ongoing case and have discussed the particulars of that on this site. Although we have edited these comments to remove identifying details, could I suggest you stick to just ‘Paul’ from now on?

Lee - April 19, 2017 at 4:36pm

Yes I agree . However because of the delusional parents as you call them , it is almost impossible to prove a case when the child actually is at risk . As funding is given from the likes of the lottery based on
Success rate , which means safe guarding or sometimes throwing kids to wolves . How can a family justice system be justice if it is apparent with evidence the advocate is solely in existence based on handouts , and targets like children are merchandise ! Especially without a complaints procedure even if you have stacks of evidence . The only thing the parent trying to protect has on their side is time. As time reveals all , meanwhile the child is thrown back into the pit until the wolf reveals his head again ! Not to mention the abuse of being coerced into a room whilst shaking and crying ! Just to make up their targets . They still carry on representing and no actions on their disgraceful abuse in themselves as advocates until the final hearing. Which by then a barrage of lies and lack of imperative omissions have been made, to which it has been proved that the judges take their findings 98 pcent. Thank god 12j is changing this year ! High court had the sense in this antiquated mockery of justice, to change the law . Well mr Cobb I believe . Failing evidencing your case you are constantly threatened with a section 37 case. To which the advocates are reliant on authority funding . Can anybody else see any conflict of jnterest here ? Also on the board of trustees are judges . Hmmm. David and Goliath rings bells

Paul - April 19, 2017 at 3:42pm

Ha. Kind of missed the question with last post.
If the system was not perceived by men as been sexist and predudicial. If it was preceived as been fair. Then men would not need to circumvent it.
Have you seen how many fathers right groups their are now ? – think they all protest over nothing ? still im sure the (smoke so there must be fire arguement would not get me very far in court lol)
Give men a fair trial then men would not feel the need to try and circumvent it.
Its a chicken and egg situation.
Cause and effect.

Paul - April 19, 2017 at 3:44pm

Sorry will stop using auto fill

Cameron Paterson - April 19, 2017 at 4:13pm

Thanks

Brian - April 20, 2017 at 8:34pm

Well you can’t call it a service. There isn’t any!

Brian - April 20, 2017 at 9:12pm

What needs to happen to [name removed] is she needs to be sent down for Contempt for 6 months with a consecutive two years for abduction. Drag [name removed] in straight afterwards for the same thing and the same sentence…no…12 months contempt for subjecting the child to the media like a puppet and two years for child abduction. BANG!, family litigation will drop, courts will be free to deal with vulnerable children going into care. lawyers will go bust, claims of DV will go through the roof to secure funding…all unsuccessful of course because they’ll all be false, enforcement applications will drop with higher percentage rates of success of enforcement. Courts send out the wrong message, by re imposing sanctions post securing of the children, no publicity of the punishment for abduction or no punishment at all. This is the cause of family courts being “circumvented” – law doesn’t apply to mums, the god given gift of a womb bestows you the right to act as you please – WRONG!! You’ll have no idea the patience these narcissists are shown…It’s almost limitless. Of course you are going to get these petitions – why aren’t family lawyers going on sky news explaining the law that what mum has done is totally wrong instead of the benefit scabbing stay at home hello magazine reading mums get organised on mum’s net and rally around a petition. I tell you why they don’t, they’re giving away information about their art and only helping to inform litigants in person for free…why do something for nothing when you can get paid for it!. Have you seen mum’s net or rights of mums ‘example’ or template position statement for litigant in person? It’s SHOCKING, you’d only need to put your name in the gap of the header for a respondent and by default with the ‘example’ paragraphs you have made profound accusations of harassment, DV, you fear for the safety of the children, you fear for your own safety, supervised or no contact, dad’s a druggie wino wife beating kiddie fiddler – IT IS TOTALLY OBSTRUCTIVE! Don’t take my word for it check it out for yourselves. Mumsnet right for mums.org or something like that – one of the two! I’m telling you, women are organised -its scary! Dads are too busy working his balls off for the bills and CMS payments!
(*Comment edited – please see our moderation policy here)

Brian - April 20, 2017 at 9:20pm

I’ll put my money where my mouth is. Read it and weep men! rightsofwomen.org.uk/get-information/family-law/a-guide-to-preparing-for-court-hearings-and-safety-in-the-family-court-2/#An%20example:

Brian - April 20, 2017 at 9:21pm

rightsofwomen.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Guide-to-position-statement-example.pdf

Lee - April 21, 2017 at 10:09am

Thank you women’s rights for the post . It doesn’t change the advocate who is biased or the system . You can’t complain until final hearing ! It’s a sham. On the note of men working to pay cms . Hmmm. Flawed cms calculations at a pathetic percentage , that if you have evidence to the contrary you have to fight for a hmrc tribunal , and advised not to go that way , numerous times . So men work their arses off to pay a pathetic percentage whilst living it up all around the world and Michelin restaurants ! Whilst other party struggles , juggles and can’t half quarter of the benefits the nrp has if they are a high earner . hmm cms . Crap minimum support ! The juggling continues, whilst these percentages stink !

Paul - April 21, 2017 at 10:24am

Ha ha 100% right brian. I might print that out to take to court. They want me to prove Alienation is taking place in my case. Apparently its really hard to prove. Well here are some templates which prove its happening all over the United Kingdom.see if they can draw any parallels to my case.
If I say PAS is taking place.
Right Paul your gonna have to prove that.
If Mrs X says hes been ‘Emotionally abussive’ everybody in court nods in agreement.
Paul wants to say could you ask Mrs X to prove that please.
Paul is not aloud to speak right now.
Tells off Paul for nearly exploding in court.
Showing signs of agression. Clearly a bad parent.

JamesB - April 21, 2017 at 11:40am

Allez Marine.

JamesB - April 21, 2017 at 11:42am

I hated saying that. Its like my enemy’s enemy is my friend.

JamesB - April 21, 2017 at 11:44am

I would rather people like John embraced reform, not the kind that empowers lawyers, but the kind that empowers the people, through things like shared parenting, enforceable contact orders, reformed cafcass etc. Unfortunately I do not hear or see him or people like him (the establishment) doing enough.

Brian - April 22, 2017 at 5:40pm

That’s because they’re hoping they’ll get called to the bench.

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