Equal Shared Parenting for Irish Fathers and their Children

Dear Deputy _______________

I am a father/grandmother/grandfather/uncle/aunt….. trying desperately to be part of my child(ren)’s/ grandchild(ren)’s/niece(s)/nephew(s)…. Life (lives). I am contacting you in relation to a child’s right to have equal shared parenting from both father and mother irrespective of the parents’ relationship with each other.
The detrimental position fathers and their children find themselves in due to the outdated and biased family law legislation and court system has been ignored for decades. 
It would seem that successive governments are either blissfully unaware of what the reality of family law and family courts is, or possibly much more worryingly, know exactly how fathers and their children are being treated and seemingly choose to turn a blind eye, or worse still would potentially seek to promote legislation on an ideological gender identity basis. 
I fear for our children that the latter explanations would seem to be the case as a simple Google search shows how detrimental the present outdated legislation is to both fathers and their children in Ireland. Here are just 5 examples:
“I believe that children should be left with their mother until they are 12 or 13….” Irish Circuit Court Judge (1)
"There is an enormous problem where people are estranged of the primary custodial parent, who most often is the mother, deliberately, deliberately, obstructing fathers from accessing children. Using children as pawns. Going to war with fathers, causing some fathers to have nervous breakdowns. Destroying relationships deliberately between children and fathers.” (2)
“The single most discriminated against person in the country constitutionally speaking is the unmarried father.” (3)
“It is an unfortunate reality in family law that the parent with primary care and control of a child has been found to breach an Access Order and restrict access to the child as a means of punishing the other parent. This is difficult for a court to enforce as even where a custodial parent consistently breaks an Access Order a court has few tools at its disposal at present to penalise such a person. In the vast majority of cases the mother is the custodial parent and for obvious reasons courts are very reluctant to impose a custodial sentence even for flagrant breaches of an Order as this will adversely affect the welfare of the child in question.” (4)
“In 95% of all cases the primary carer of dependent children was the mother. Where access was unilaterally withheld, it was done by mothers in 100% of the observed cases before the court.” (5)
Indeed, the Department of Justice and Equality seems to be talking out of both sides of its mouth by simultaneously ‘exalting’ fathers to become involved in their children’s lives while refusing to introduce legislation that would allow fathers to do so on an equal basis. It seems the left hand doesn’t know quite what the right hand is doing.
“I do not propose to introduce legislation to provide for equal shared parenting….” Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan, 20th September 2017 (6)
“All the evidence shows that in parenting, what is best for children is the involvement of their father….” Minister for State for Justice and Equality David Stanton, 17th April 2018(7)
“The proposed directive recognises that the provision of paid parental leave will be more effective and appropriate in encouraging fathers to be more involved in the caring role for their children, thus contributing to the promotion of gender equality.” Minister for State for Justice and Equality David Stanton, 16th May 2018 (8)
The vast majority of fathers do want to be involved in their children’s lives. Unfortunately, the well-documented financial, psychological, emotional, legal and institutional barriers are preventing children from having their fathers in their lives; the socially-embedded prejudices of fathers not wanting to be involved and walking away does the rest.
Indeed, modern Social Science overwhelmingly supports shared parenting to maximize children’s chances of having long lasting relationships and secure attachments to each parent among the many other benefits it affords children. Most recently Dr. Richard Warshak’s research Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report which has been endorsed by 110 of the world’s top experts states:

“Just as we encourage shared parenting in two-parent homes, the evidence shows that shared parenting should be the norm for children of all ages, including sharing the overnight care for very young children.” (9)

According to Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) April 2014 Family Court Review

“Children benefit from parents sharing in their upbringing throughout their life span, where appropriate, including in the earliest stages of life.” (10)
I am therefore asking you to raise a written question in Dáil Éireann in support of a presumption of equal shared parenting to ask the Minister of Justice and Equality, Charles Flanagan to introduce legislation as a matter of urgency for equal shared parenting.
I would also request a meeting with you to discuss the matter further.
Yours Sincerely
________________

(1) Judicial Separation and Divorce in the Circuit Court, Judge 1, Pg 313
Roisin O’Shea
http://repository.wit.ie/…/thesis_ROS_WITLIB_201405final.pdf
May 2015 [accessed 19th July 2018]
(2) Alan Shatter accuses some mothers of using ‘children as pawns’ in custody battles
Irish Independent
https://www.independent.ie/…/alan-shatter-accuses-some-moth…
25th February 2015 [accessed 19th July 2018]
(3) Talking Point with Sarah Carey, Newstalk 106-108FM
Dean of law at Griffith College, Dublin
13th June 2015 
(4) Submission of the Law Society of Ireland, Pg 7, 8.2
Children and Family Relationships Bill 2014
https://www.lawsociety.ie/…/child.family-relation_law_socie…
April 2014 [accessed 19th July 2018]
(5) Judicial Separation and Divorce in the Circuit Court, Pgs 408, 409
Roisin O’Shea
http://repository.wit.ie/…/thesis_ROS_WITLIB_201405final.pdf
May 2015 [accessed 19th July 2018]
(6) Written Answers, Department of Justice and Equality, Child Access and Custody, Question Nos: 323, 325
Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan
https://www.kildarestreet.com/wrans/?id=2017-09-20a.795
20th September 2017 [accessed 19th July 2018]
(7) Written Answers, Department of Justice and Equality, Parental Leave, Question No: 59
Minister of State for Justice and Equality David Stanton
https://www.kildarestreet.com/wrans/?id=2018-04-17a.55
17th April 2018 [accessed 19th July 2018]
(8) Select Committee on Justice and Equality, Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017: Committee Stage
Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan
https://www.kildarestreet.com/committees/
16th May 2018 [accessed 19th July 2018]
(9) Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report
Dr Richard Warshak , Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, USA
http://www.chess.su.se/…/Warshak-Social%20Science%20and%20P…
4th February 2014 [accessed 19th July 2018]
(10) Closing the Gap: Research, Policy, Practice, and Shared Parenting
Marsha Kline Pruett* and J. Herbie DiFonzo, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC)
http://www.afccnet.org/…/2014_01_Jan_Pruett_DiFonzo_Closing…
21st April 2014 [accessed 19th July 2018]