WILL YOU LOSE YOUR CHILDREN?
If you can retain some form of contact then it is unlikely, but it some
cases it could be years before you see them again. From a survey taken
on this, children usually start coming back to the father in early teenage
years. There are several reasons for this.
They grow independent of the mother.
They want money.
They find they can control the mother with threats of seeing
They have a natural curiosity and emotional need to know
The father offers an alternative lifestyle that may well
be inherent in the child.
It has been said that 'The best revenge is to be happy'. This will show
that all the mother's machinations will have failed. The FNF survey on
PAS produced well over 700 replies. The most common answer to the question
'Do you have any suggestions on overcoming PAS?' got the answer 'Stay
with it, and do not abandon your children.'
The easiest way to deal with any problem is to divide it into parts.
Separate the parts you into three categories:
1. Those you can deal with right away.
2. Those you can deal with when the time comes
3. Those you can't deal with now, and have to be sorted out later,
perhaps with expert help.
THINGS YOU CAN DEAL WITH NOW
- Work to a plan.
- Keep a diary.
- Sort out all the correspondence related to your case, and
take copies of everything.
- Use the copies to highlight all the key points that you
may have to refer to later.
- List all the people who are in touch with your ex-partner,
your children, and other key people in the case.
- List all the people who are willing to support you if needed.
- List all the places where you can make more suitable contacts,
such as schools, clubs, parks, and appropriate locations.
- Find out what events are going on at schools and such places
that you might attend and see your children.
- Check if you can participate in local events that will
bring you in contact with other parents or key people who might help you.
- Check for ways that get publicity that could be seen by
your ex or children, or those close to them.
- Check if you can become a school governor, helper, coach,
or in any way a participant in events that involve your children.
- If you ex is part of a group: religious, cultural, educational,
etc. see if you can join the group or get to know those associated with
- Check out events such as birthdays, holidays, festivities,
etc that give excuses for you to contact your ex or children directly
or via relatives and close friends.
- Check out the parents of the children who are in your child's
class and see if you can contact them. They might well know your child
via their children.
- Chance plays a big part in life. It is possible that there
are other fathers in your situation who have children at the same school.
If so, they may have information that is useful to you.
- Cultivate and practice your fathering skills at all times.
Ask others about their children, and try to help out. It may make you
sad at first, but any children that relate to you will eventually give
you satisfaction and help you through this period. There are very many
children in need of fathers.
- Keep up with your children's interests. If they like computer
games, then try to learn a bit about them.
- Work out your Family Tree. If allowed to, then send it
to your children or someone close to them. If possible, set up a website
about yourself and your side of the family. If possible, make this information
available to your children.
- If you see articles or letters in papers and magazines
about similar cases to your own, reply to them. Also see if there are
journalists who might cover your case.
- If possible, send material to the friends and relatives
of your ex-partner. They may well be sympathetic to you if you don't impost
- If you are in a position to, offer work-experience to students
in the school where your child goes.
- Check out the school and find out exactly what information
you are entitled to. It might be more than you are voluntarily given.
- Find out who the school governors are, and how they can
- Find out about your ex's neighbours, and see if there is
any way to link up with them.
- If possible, set up a child's bank account (Building societies
sometimes do this), and start putting money it. Make sure your child knows
about it. When the child is old enough you can give them the bankbook.
If the child is a minor then it will be a joint account. When your child
is no longer a minor you can still keep it as a joint account.
- Buy Premium Bonds, or the occasional lottery ticket for
your child. If it comes up you will have a good reason to contact them.
- If you can, make a video of yourself and your family. Get
some close to you to send it to your child. Use a festive occasion as
an excuse to do so.
In all, the approach is always to be doing something
so that you are never in a situation of feeling helpless. With determination
you will find that there are many opportunities to further your situation,
and more will turn up as you think about it in a logical way. Overcoming
the feeling of helplessness is essential to dealing with the problem.
THINGS YOU CAN DEAL WITH WHEN THE TIME
Dealing with the courts is one thing
that has to wait its time. The courts are getting more sympathetic to
fathers, and this situation will improve, but you still need to present
your case in the best light. The following points will help:
- Always go to the highest court you can. Avoid Magistrates
courts if possible. Family Court Magistrates will most likely have women
magistrates who may not be sympathetic to you. Also, Magistrates are the
least qualified of the judiciary when it comes to legal points.
- Some Judges are not sympathetic to LIP's (Litigants in
Person), so make sure your case is well prepared if you are representing
yourself. Make sure that you have done your homework, which includes reporting
all the mistakes, omissions, bias, and misinterpretations in your court
report. These should have been sent to the court prior to your hearing,
and have any supporting evidence attached to them. A copy of this should
also go to your ex.
- If you are presenting evidence to indicate PAS, then have
the relevant documents at hand with the key points marked out. Have all
references highlighted and numbered so you can quote them and they are
easily checked in court.
- Pursue the argument that you do not believe your children
hate you, and that you have photos, letters, etc to support your claim.
Have these available.
- If you feel the Court Reporter has not adequately deal
with your case, make sure you have key issues set out, and not have to
be discussed in court.
- Your overall argument has to be that your children do not
hate you, and that you are a good father, and that anything that suggests
otherwise is either a misunderstanding by those reporting the case, or
false allegations that have not been checked.
IF YOU USE A SOLICITOR
- Don't assume your solicitor will be familiar with PAS.
The chances are that s/he will not know more than you. Get as many reference
to PAS as you can, in particular where cases have been won. These are
all available via the various PAS websites.
- Make sure that all the points that relate to your case
are highlighted and numbered. Do not overwhelm your solicitor with information
that is not useful to your own case.
- Check through the FNF list to find anyone with a case close
to yours. Only list the relevant details. All those on the list have their
own cases to deal with so don't assume that they have a special interest
in yours other than being helpful on a few key points.
- Get a McKenzie friend if you can. Check that you are allowed
to have one.
- Find out if anyone else has had the same Judge or Court
Reporter that you have, and what his or her opinions are.
THINGS THAT HAVE TO BE LEFT TO ANOTHER TIME
There is only so much that can be done at any time. Do the things you
can cope with, and put the others aside for the moment.
Writing down your thoughts on what has been done, what needs to be done,
and how you intend to do it, is not just helping to organise yourself,
but is also a therapy. Getting it out of your mind and onto paper will
also suggest other ideas. When you get used to this approach you will
find that each draft of your ideas will simplify the situation until a
few key issues remain, and they are:
Your own survival and development
Retaining and developing contact with your children.
Resolving the attitudes between you and your ex-partner.
Try to eliminate everything that has no bearing on you case, and do not
involve more people than necessary.
The things you can do for the future are:
- Get a list of all the addresses of the authorities you
may need to contact.
- Print out as much information on PAS as possible from the
Internet and save it to be read later.
- All the authorities dealing with Family Business offer
guides and have websites. Write away for the guides or collect them from
a local office. Check the websites and print out relevant information
of that authority.
- Go to the local Citizens Advice Bureau and find out what
services they offer to help you should you need it. Again, collect as
much information from there and put it in folders.
- Find out what other self-help groups exist, and try to
visit them, or at least make phone contact.
- Find out where your MP has his or her surgery in case you
need to put your situation to them.
- Collect letters on these matters and make a file of them.
Mark out the relevant items with a highlighter, and use those parts for
your own letters. Being able to write letters on your problem will be
a very valuable skill to have.
The process of getting this information helps you to understand how 'The
system' works. This covers who does what, how they do it, and where they
are. It can be traumatic to have the distress of losing your children,
and not knowing what to do or who to turn to. It might be compared to
being lost and not knowing which way to walk. All the information you
collect will give you a sense of direction.
So live a full life as much as you can. Don't allow the situation to
take over your life otherwise it become like a terminal illness.
Overall your plan is to do something. If you can do something
that directly contacts your child then do that. If you can do something
that indirectly contacts your child then do that. If you can do something
that keeps up your fathering skills do that. If you can do something that
promotes the fathers cause generally, then do that. If you can do none
of these, then at least keep yourself busy so that you do not get depressed
or in a state that leaves you open to the criticism of not being a capable
father even if given the chance.