My interest in ADR and CBT counselling stemmed from my own experience following separation, and I created a child-centred low cost alternative for separating parents. Post separation parenting can be a minefield if one parent frustrates arrangements for the children.
In 1997, following 2 years of needless litigation and mediation rebuffed - despite having a Contact Order, a Family Court Welfare Officer opposed all contact with my children, yet there was no reason to limit or deny contact. My solicitor advised child-parent severance was the norm in about 50% of cases. How can this be so?
Mindful of the stress this caused my children, I challenged the Family Court Welfare Service upon whom the Courts rely, and found that FCWO's had:
(a) no guidelines outlining the norms of post separation parenting and how time is to be apportioned, with reference to periods of time.
(b) no guidelines outlining what factors to take into account or not take into account when making what sort of recommendation.
(c) no training in parental alienation, a common factor in almost every disputed case, considered an insidious form of child abuse.
They simply had no idea what to do. DRC/ 'Contact Matters' was thus founded to empower others to overcome the same systemic failings.
Needlessly protracted disputes with no end in sight cause nothing but longterm pain and harm to a child; even harming the relationship with the parent they live with primarily, whilst growing up to resent authority in all forms. Simply put, if there is no good or proper reason to limit or deny a child's contact with a non resident parent, both parents must continue to share the parenting of their child - and establish a schedule of time such that the child can flourish and grow in both parents homes.
In addition to providing a specialist telephone support and advice service for parents throughout the UK. I endeavour to influence change among practitioners, legal and healthcare professionals and Cafcass; providing information for tiers of Government, support groups, and local and national media - to bring about much needed reform through introduction of a post separation parenting framework.
Contact Matters is about the child, and about daring to be different.