Weblog archive for March 2004

4th March 2004

Research on children and parents experiencing separation and divorce

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has supported a collection of research projects on children's and parents' experiences of separation and divorce. Concern about divorce and separation is partly fuelled by the rise in the divorce rate and the numbers of children affected by family changes. There is also growing concern about the role of fathers and the need for children to maintain a good relationship with both their parents.

Mavis Maclean, of the University of Oxford, summarises this research here. These studies have examined the outcomes for children of changes in their family circumstances, and what can help them at these times of stress. The research reports have also looked at the experience of separation for those who have been cohabiting as well as those who divorce, and at the impact of separation and divorce on fathers, as well as on mothers and children.

5th March 2004

Trails of male contraceptive implant

It will lead to a new concept in family planning. For men, until now, the only choices have been abstinence, a condom or vasectomy. Vasectomies are not popular and condoms have never been in vogue as a contraceptive. This is going to change the face of family planning. 

Dr Pierre-Marc Bouloux, one of the hormone specialists co-ordinating the research

Many men want to take responsibility for contraception and we welcome the fact that we are moving nearer to the time when this will be possible. 

Anne Weyman, the chief executive of the Family Planning Association

According to the Guardian:

"The first male contraceptive could be on the market within five years, it was predicted yesterday, as trials using volunteers were launched in London and Manchester. In the trials, an implant of the female hormone progestogen will be placed under the man's skin for a year, drastically cutting sperm production. But the men will also need three-monthly testosterone injections to counter the feminising effects".

The Scotman on-line said:

"Experts, who say the treatment could be on the market in three years, are confident the treatment will be almost 100 per cent effective and side-effect free.... The trials of the implant are being run by 13 research centres in Europe, Australia and the United States. Dr Bouloux’s team in Hampstead will be testing the treatment on 300 volunteers".

"The contraceptive would cost about £500 per person per year, and the use of an implant means men would not have to remember to take a daily pill".

The BBC provided a telephone number: "Men who want to take part in the study can call 0207 472 6190".

13th March 2004

Parent With Care loses right to sue the CSA

This Blog recorded last May that "a judge declared that the agency could be sued for damages under human rights laws if it delayed or unreasonably failed to take enforcement action against an absent parent who was refusing to pay child maintenance".

That decision has now been overturned by the Court of Appeal as a result of an appeal by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Andrew Smith.

CSA figures for the year 2001/2002 show that £2,500 million in maintenance was outstanding, of which £2,000 million would probably never be collected. The appeal judge said that the Child Support Act gave the Secretary of State the power to enforce maintenance orders. "The responsibility for assessing, collecting and enforcing child maintenance was transferred from the courts to the CSA," he said. He said that the effect of the Act was to take away an individual’s rights to go to the courts to seek maintenance and have orders enforced. Those powers were transferred to the Government by the 1991 Act.

Lord Justice Ward, a dissenting judge, said it was an example of the powers of the courts being taken away by Government and that this imperilled "the constitutional safeguard of a right to a court". He dismissed the Minister’s appeal against the ruling that Mrs Kehoe’s rights to a fair trial under the Human Rights Act had been invoked because she could not personally enforce the arrears of maintenance. He was overruled by a two to one majority.

17th March 2004

CSA site has a “net income calculator”

The CSA site says it all:

“Child maintenance is calculated using the non-resident parent's weekly net income figures. Many of our clients are paid monthly or for some other period so we have added a net income calculator to the site today. You can put in your annual, monthly or four-weekly salary, income tax, national insurance and pension contributions and it will calculate your net weekly income for you.”

In fact, this is approximately the same capability as one of the worksheets in the “new scheme” Excel spreadsheet available at this web site. There is now a choice for people who haven't got Excel.

19th March 2004

Government back-down on parenting-plan proposals

The system seemed unfair to divorced fathers and weighted towards mothers. 

Prince Charles

What you do is you present these parenting plans, which are different sorts of weekly schedules, and say 'you choose the one that suits you best. If it doesn't work we'll modify it'. Whereas if you start with a blank slate it's hopeless - you have 'oh, he can have the child once a month or alternate Saturdays'. You've got to have some kind of template of what the state considers reasonable. 

Hamish Cameron, child psychiatrist

This Blog reported on 17th February "Parents who separate will be expected to agree parenting plans that give generous time with the children for both mother and father, under government proposals to cut the number of bitter and protracted court battles over child contact".

Now the Guardian reports that this proposal is being shelved, in favour of an approach that appears to differ little from what already happens. The Guardian reports:

"Now the initiative has been taken over by the Department for Education and Skills. But its model under consideration is a more ad hoc scheme by which parents would be helped by mediation to work out their own plans.

Those who favour the US-style plans, who include some judges, say mediation has been tried already with little success. Mediation is voluntary, and mothers determined to frustrate their ex-partners' attempts to see their children are unlikely to cooperate".

Guardian, Clare Dyer, "Blow to fathers as custody scheme is ditched"

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