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Challenges and Dilemmas Regarding Non-Resident Fathers in Public Law

Reid, James (2012) Challenges and Dilemmas Regarding Non-Resident Fathers in Public Law. In: The Sovereignty of Children in Law. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Cambridge, pp. 157-177. ISBN 9781443836357

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Abstract

There are a significant number of family breakdowns in the UK that require the
intervention of social welfare workers to ensure positive outcomes for the children who are at the centre of disagreement and animosity. Many of the situations will use the law to impose a solution when agreement between the adults is not otherwise forthcoming. There are frequent complaints from some fathers of inequity in social welfare practice and the law. These complaints are in part due to the contemporary
nature of social welfare work and concomitant legal practice with families, for
example because of uncritical approaches to assessment perpetuated by mandated
tools such as the Framework for Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (DH, 2000), the Common Assessment Framework (2005) and the Integrated Children’s System (2005). There are continuing concerns about the quality of
assessments and that good practice in this regard is inhibited by managerialist and
bureaucratic approaches and also because of imbalance between social welfare workers and their legal representatives.
One negative outcome of this, particularly for children in contested contact proceedings, is denied familial and cultural experiences and lost identity. Many nonresident parents are anonymous in practitioner’s minds and records, not helped as
many children’s stories are reduced to a ‘cut and paste’ approach to assessment.
Such anonymity means that possibilities offered by the non-resident parent’s family, culture and community are denied and unavailable to the child. Practitioners worry about accountability both within and out with the courtroom and practice in an atmosphere of increased public hostility and scrutiny. Utility and professional agency are determined not just by statute but by working practices and culture, by knowledge and skills, and the prevailing social and political priorities of the day and this does not necessarily favour positive outcomes for children and non resident fathers.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional Information: The system of the United Nations, as well as many international and regional bodies, imposes various duties on states that consequently have obligations towards the rights of their individuals. This is particularly significant in the case of children who are not only considered one of the most valuable subjects of international regulations, but are also an integral part of the legislation of domestic laws. Despite the fact that laws concerning the rights of children are well settled in the international sphere, and are recognized under the jus cogens norms, national laws about children, or national laws having an effect on children, are still not completely adequate. Many legislative and cultural practices expose the fact that children are not recognized as the holders of rights. National legal authorities should not, in accordance with the existing international legislations, plead provisions of their own laws or deficiencies of those laws in response to a request against them for alleged violations of children’s rights that have occurred under their jurisdiction. In fact, the absence of appropriate legislation within national legal systems and the reluctance of legal authorities to seriously take children’s rights into consideration, have been two of the key reasons for the contraventions of children’s rights in national or international conflicts. Strange as it may seem, when we do not respect the rights of others, it might be considered a civil violation or a crime. But when the rights of children are violated it has, on many occasions, been dismissed as custom or argued that they gave their express consent. For example, in the nineties, when a child of 11 was raped in Sweden, the judgment concluded that there was an implicit consent. Similarly, when a child of seven was raped by an Iranian priest in a Mosque, it was judged as the victim receiving spiritual enlightenment. By analogy with the rules which exist to provide legal, social and economic aid to the victims of national or international crimes, it may be possible to suggest that there is an established legal duty for all states to provide access to resources which can, under reasonable criteria, protect children from the improper conducts of individuals, organisations, and the administration of justice. It is, in principle, true that literally millions of people believe that children are their property or that a child has no rights of his or her own, and thus the conduct of parents, guardians, representatives of organisations, and the administration of justice relating to children are permitted as a matter of law or nature. This book examines many different areas within the law which deal with the specific rights of children such as the philosophy of law, civil law, social law, tax law, criminal law, procedural law, international law, human rights law and the humanitarian law of armed conflict. The intention is to show that there are many rules, provisions, norms, and principles within various areas of the law that relate to the rights of children. The extent of these rights implies the existence of certain regions of law which have to be acknowledged and respected by national authorities. However, the acknowledgement of rights is also a matter of intention, and may be implied or expressed by the practice of authorities. The question of the child constituting a self-ruling subject of justice and its legal ability to create an independent individual legal personality for the protection of its rights, but not necessarily for the exercise of those rights, are the central issues of this book.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
Schools: School of Education and Professional Development
School of Education and Professional Development > Centre of Lifelong Learning and Social Justice > Teaching, Public Pedagogies and Professionalism Research Group
School of Education and Professional Development > Centre of Lifelong Learning and Social Justice > Early Years Childhood Youth and Community Research
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Depositing User: James Reid
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2012 13:50
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2013 11:45
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/12764

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