Many of the FNF branches also support women who are striving for contact with their children but of course the major beneficiaries are men, who in about 80% of cases risk losing meaningful contact with their children. We work intensively, because that is what people need, not some long, drawn out piece of nonsense which hardly anybody completes and which fails to address their immediate problems because all of those are “to do with their attitudes to women”. What utter nonsense in most cases!
I am a big fan of FNF because many of the men in these situations need a lot of support, both factual and emotional. Factual in regards to the processes of the Family Courts and Magistrates courts and emotional in that when separated from their families many men risk losing “all reason for being”, and they need the help and support of the men and women that run the FNF branches. I’ve visited (only!) 5 branches and seen them working but I can vouch for the commitment of all involved. I’ll spare the blushes of the leaders of which I think is the best model, and, of course, you can only deliver that for which you have resources. Many FNF branches meet x 1 per month. The one I have in mind meets twice and often 3 times a week, that’s intensive! And in my view that is what is needed. It is led by 2/ 3 different people, so that if A cannot lead it B perhaps can and if A and B cannot lead it then perhaps C can. Next, they run a Whats Ap group where sometimes very banal questions are asked – but to which people need to know the answers -and sometimes very deep questions are asked. And this, of course, draws on the immediately available experiences of the 100 or so men in the group, who then become involved in / advising their Co-Whats-Appers – thus reducing to some extent pressures on the leaders, but also building a truly self-help group, which when individuals become despairing helps them to “ride the storms”, rather than giving way to the despair. Such is the traffic on the site that I frequently have to “clear” the messages.
Another useful threat is the encouragement to be a “litigant in person” and to make use of a “McKenzie Friend”, an individual who will help you prepare and present your own case in court. Personally I think if you have the confidence it is better to “present” yourself rather than be “re-presented” by a solicitor / barrister. One of the problems with the latter can be that if you are “monied” solicitors and barristers see you coming and part of their brief is to “lighten your pockets and line theirs” with as much of your wealth as possible. Every delay, over 2/3/4 years, every letter costs you money, loads of it – £60k £80k £100k £160k. We’ve had clients with accumulations of £32 m and £19m – the costs were even making them gasp, let alone the simple guy in the street, struggling to keep a roof over his and their heads! Of course, the female “victim” – as with every victim – is entitled to legal aid – so, as your solicitor, in prolonging your case, I’m also helping my colleague in her legal aid funded case. Incidentally if you view yourself as the victim get your GP or a “victim supporting agency” to recognise you as a victim and you can also get legal aid. Incidentally if the preparation of your “bundle” for the courts puts you off being a Litigant in Person (LIP!) then many solicitors are willing to put the bundle together for you – at a cost, naturally. More to follow.