Thanks to the many readers who a href=”http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=464132amp;in_page_id=1770amp;ICO=NEWSamp;ICL=TOPART”been sending me this story over/a the past several days. Many of you expressed concern about the horrible story of Mark Harris, an English father who was jailed for waving at his daughter: br /br /blockquoteDenied access to his three children after his divorce, Mark was jailed for standing outside his house to wave to them. It took ten years and 133 hearings before they were reunited. How CAN the Government insist cases like his are kept secret?br /br /Every day there is some reminder of what Mark Harris calls ‘the lost years’.br /br /It could be his daughter’s reference to a particular birthday party or a family holiday. It could be talk of exams sat, dentists visited or pop stars worshipped.br /br /Each time it happens, he feels a stab of regret. ‘I missed so much,’ he reveals, with understandable bitterness. ‘They took my daughter’s childhood, her formative years, from me. Lisa is 20 now. I didn’t see her between the ages of ten and 16. An awful lot happens in a child’s life in that time, and I missed it all….’br /br /’What happened to my family is unforgivable. And that it was all sanctioned – ordered – by a system that is supposed to help families is outrageous.’br /br /The controversial family court system has much to answer for in this case. Mark Harris isn’t the first father who has questioned how it operates. Family court proceedings are notoriously secretive, and campaigners have long appealed for the proceedings to be more open and judges more accountable.br /br /That is not to be, however. Last week the Lord Chancellor ruled that proceedings must remain secret – something that horrifies Mark and his girls. br /br /…So angry is he about his experiences that he has written a book, a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.co.uk%2FFamily-Court-HELL-Mark-Harris%2Fdp%2F1906206120%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbooks%26qid%3D1182868621%26sr%3D8-1tag=wwwviolentkicomlinkCode=ur2camp=1789creative=9325″iFamily Court Hell./i/a ‘Surely my story is evidence enough that the system needs to change.br /br /’If it doesn’t, the family courts are open to abuse by unaccountable judges and social workers with their own agendas, whose word is taken as law and who almost invariably favour the mother. /blockquotebr /br /Mr. Harris says that his case is not unique, many other fathers are going through similar situations–heck, even in the US, being a movie star is no protection– Alec Baldwin believes he has gotten the shaft and a href=”http://www.contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/baldwin%20wants%20custody%20battle%20book%20to%20help%20desperate%20dads_21_01_2006″is writing a book/a about the experience. br /br /It is common knowledge among men that they have fewer rights than they could ever imagine when they get into the divorce process. I sometimes wonder if in the back of their mind, some dads know that the deck is stacked against them and this is why they do not get too engaged with their children if they are not getting along with the mother. The less emotional engagement, the less pain and frustration when the courts, the mother and the lawyers finish with the process. Many men are told that they do not care about families and children and maybe some don’t but my guess is that there are a number of fathers who had to disengage to save their emotional lives. This ends up being tragic for both the father and the children.
June 26, 2007 - 7:17 am