I was checking out ABC News just now and found this doozy on fathers fighting for their rights. Fathers for Justice (sometimes written Fathers 4 Justice) is a group started in the UK to ensure that their parental rights remain intact after divorce. According to the ABC News article:

British law is neutral. It states that the mother always has parental responsibility for her child. The father is allowed to share the responsibility if he is married to the woman. Outside marriage, a man will have to register the birth of the child, but the mother can always stop him if she wishes. But in cases of disagreement, the judge has the last word.
But, apparently, neutral isn't really the right word because (surprise, surprise!) the mothers are favored. Of course, there's the problem of women who actually have a reason for not wanting the men to play any role in their children's lives, especially in cases of physical or sexual abuse.

When this is not the case, I do kind of have a problem with this practice. We all know that mothers are often favored because of their "maternal instincts" while fathers are expected to not give a damn and see the children as a burden more than anything else (often financial). But this isn't always the case, so if the father is pleading to have equal time with the child, why punish them? Some of the men interviewed for this piece obviously have a great desire to be with their children.

Now, I'm used to hearing about organizations that claim to be for the fathers' rights, but are often anti-women, so I tried to investigate this group before feeling too sorry for them. I found them on Wikipedia. While the ABC News article mentions that the group has received attention in the past because of their extreme tactics, they didn't mention the alleged plot to kidnap Tony Blair's son. I don't know if this is true, but I wouldn't be surprised if some renegade members thought it was a great idea.

But that also brings up the question: what is up with fathers who really don't give a damn?! The fathers who talk about wanting full or shared custody just for the heck of it or to get back at the wife or whatever? I'm sure (read: I hope) they're more of an urban myth than anything else, but the psychology behind that really fascinates (read: confuses) me.

Is anybody else familiar with this group? I know there are now branches in the U.S., but I haven't had time to look too far into stories about them. Please let me know if I'm totally wrong to sympathize.


At Wed Jun 11, 05:52:00 PM The Red Queen said...

Hi- I'm here via Shakes.

I'm not sure about this particular group. I know my ex tried to get help from an MRA group but it didn't go very far.(Lots of police evidence of domestic violence, stalking and drug use did not win the ex any points in court- thank gawd).

The judge was actually very liberal with the visitation. He got to see the kid twice a week provided it was supervised. Any two days a week he wanted. In 11 years, he saw his kid twice. In the first year we were apart he managed to violate the no contact order 56 times, usually at 2 in the morning so he couldn't possibly have thought he was doing it to spend quality time with the kid. He currently owes about 40k in back child support.

He very much wanted me pregnant, and he very much wanted the kid. So I have no idea why doesn't want anything to do with the kid now. I wish I could answer that. Instead i just tell the kid that his dad has some very serious problems and he's got me and a whole passel of family and friends that love him to bits.

At Thu Jun 12, 01:43:00 AM Renee said...

Unfortunately children often get used as pawns in bitter divorces. Both sides see it as some sick contest that they have to win and forget about the best interests of the child. I personally believe that if you love your children and you know for a fact that your ex is not abusive you are doing a disservice to your child by keeping them apart. I love to watch my partner with our boys. They love their dad and he does things with them that I am either not interested in or physically incapable of doing (like throwing them in the air) Having both of us in their lives ensures that they are getting a balanced upbringing.

At Thu Jun 12, 09:13:00 AM Sally said...

It definitely is unfortunate when parents use their children as a pawn. And it certainly is strange when, as red queen mentioned, a man who so desired to be a father seems to completely change his mind.

The dynamics of fatherhood certainly are a mystery.

At Thu Jun 12, 11:08:00 AM LX said...

when you look at fatherhood in evolutionary terms its' not at all surprising.

i must ask though, what is wrong with these groups? fathers have just as much a right to their children as mothers. you can't have it both ways. father's can't under the law have equal fiscal responsibility but in decisions for custody are awarded custody a lot less than mothers. that's not fair.

At Thu Jun 12, 11:17:00 AM Sally said...

From what I can see, there isn't anything wrong with this group (aside from the alleged kidnapping plot). That's why I conclude that I do sympathize and that they have just as much a right as the mother.

The groups I refer to are ones that are anti-choice, anti-women, anti-equality, etc.

There are a lot of good father's rights (and men's rights) groups out there, I'm sure, they just don't get as much attention in the media.


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