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

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.

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