Every month, thousands of desperate Scottish dads turn to the courts as they battle for access to their children.
All too often, the court orders they secure are broken with impunity by mothers, who face little or no court sanction. As a result, around 50% of all court orders for contact between children and their fathers in the UK are broken.
That’s why it was absolutely the right decision by Sheriff Fiona Tait to send former Apprentice contestant Sharon McAllister to prison for repeatedly failing to hand her son over for contact with his father.
Remarkably, in another case in Scotland this week, a mother and grandmother were jailed and given community service respectively, for attempting to pervert the course of justice by making false allegations against dad Paul Innes. He was cuffed by Police in front of his 8-year-old daughter before charges were dropped.
Yet, like a worrying army of militant mums, Minnock and McAllister believe their actions are perfectly reasonable. Their argument is that ‘mum knows best’ and that the maternal dieties are exempt from the rule of law on account of their biological abilities and innate parenting skills.http://www.sundaypost.com/news-views/apprentice-star-sharon-mcallister-insists-she-has-no-regrets-despite-jail-sentence-1.886998
The problem with this argument is two-fold. Firstly, no mother (or child) would exist without a father. Secondly, it’s a statistical probability that these mothers will have children and that they too will be touched by the cancer of family breakdown and contact denial at some point in their lives.
You see, in family law, as in life, we reap what we sow.
The reality is that contact denial, or ‘revenge parenting’, is a hate crime and constitutes emotional abuse of a child. It also makes a mockery of our idea of justice if the law is flouted with impunity and that is why the Scottish courts must continue to pursue tougher action when faced with recalcitrant parents.
But another solution is to introduce a presumption of shared parenting and take these cases out of an adversarial court system. After all, courts are for criminals, not families.
We need a family justice system that reflects contemporary Scottish society. One that seeks to heal fractured families, not lock them into years of legalised cage fighting.
That’s why I believe that shared parenting is responsible parenting. One that can only lead to better outcomes for our children, our families and for Scotland.
It is wholly unacceptable that 50% of the Scottish population are deemed unfit to share in the parenting of their children on the basis of their gender.
As Sharon McAllister’s ex-partner said, “Fathers are entitled equally to see their children, because they love their children equally.”
It’s about time we had equality for fathers in Scotland.
Matt O’Connor, Founder, Fathers4Justice
Pic: Sharon McAllister
A REALITY TV star was jailed for contempt of court today and berated by a sheriff for her attitude towards her son. Former Apprentice contestant Sharon McAllister, 38, was jailed for three months after repeatedly failing to hand her son over for contact with his father. McAllister was told ‘You’re jailed’ and led off in handcuffs after being found guilty of contempt of court in a long-running civil court battle with her former partner.
Sheriff Fiona Tait told her: “It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to do this. This is about the best interests of the child. “These were bad findings of contempt and, given your conduct since, I consider the only way to deal with the matter is by a custodial sentence.
“You have given excuses throughout – that is the way you have operated. I am very sorry this position has been reached but I consider you have shown – in the 15 months since the finding of contempt – that you will not obtemper the court order.
“The finding of contempt was made in October 2013. I made it clear I considered your actions had been flagrant contempts of court.
“My priority was to provide you with the opportunity to obey the court order. That was principally because it was in the child’s best interest to have contact with his father.
“It has been noted in a number of reports you have an entrenched position against contact. My fears were unfortunately realised.
“I am satisfied that the situation is that you remain opposed and will do whatever possible to obstruct the order of the court.”
Perth Sheriff Court was told that McAllister had repeatedly sabotaged agreed periods when her six-year-old son was due to be handed to the care of his father.
Read more about the story here: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/ex-apprentice-star-jailed-flagrant-contempts-5730594
Said Fathers4Justice founder Matt O’Connor, “A decision like this is long overdue, but the fact remains that a child has been denied their human right to a father for over 4 years and 30 court hearings, which is wholly unacceptable. It also isn’t clear if the child is now living with the father.”
“Child Arrangement Orders across the UK are flouted on a daily basis with impunity by mothers because Judges refuse to enforce their own court orders. Around 50% of all court orders are broken and the result is an epidemic of fatherlessness with around 4 million children living in fatherless homes.”
“The flouting of court orders makes a mockery of our idea of justice. We need the strong enforcement of orders to send a clear message to recalcitrant mothers that if they break them they will be sent to prison, or have residency transferred to the father.”
“We echo the words of the father of the boy who said that fathers are entitled equally to see their children, because they love their children equally.”