The public petitions committee of the Scottish Parliament has discussed a petition lodged by Ron Park calling for Equal Rights for Unmarried Fathers.
Ron explains the background of his petition that his son, Alex, was born in October 2013 but the mother has refused ever to let him even see him. He has not been named as the father in Alex’s birth certificate. Ron explains the efforts he has made to see the child and to have a role in boy’s life – and his shock at discovering there are no mechanisms in Scots law to assist him.
Ron is calling for:
1. Both parents must be named on a birth certificate before a birth can be legally registered. Where the child’s parentage is in doubt, all avenues must be explored in determining the child’s father to the satisfaction of a court. If it is still not possible to name the child’s father for whatever reason, a court may grant a registered birth with only one parent.
2. After parentage is determined, and should both parents be found to be fit and able to care for the child should an investigation be necessary, full rights and responsibilities will be awarded to BOTH parents. This will include the duty of care and living arrangements either agreed by mutual consent or, as a last resort, a court order.
3. And perhaps my most important change in that if the court orders a DNA test, or anything else for that matter, then failure to comply with this request should be considered contempt of court. If we cannot rely on our legal system to fall back on, then we simply have a lawless and anarchic society.
The full petition, now signed by 423 individuals, can be found here. http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/petitionPDF/PE01513.pdf
FNF Scotland national manager, Ian Maxwell, says, “This is an important initiative by Ron Park. Many people, including legislators, are unaware of how difficult and heartbreaking it can be for an unmarried non-resident father to be an involved parent of his child – especially a new born – if the mother wishes to exclude him for reasons of her own.
There is a raft of evidence that shows children do better in every area of their life – in health, educational attainment, self esteem and maintaining relationships themselves when both parents and their respective extended families are fully involved even after divorce or separation.
Successive Scottish Children’s Acts have stressed that the paramount concern of both parents should be the best interests of their children. Public policy repeatedly reminds us of our responsibilities as parents towards our children.
We hope the Public Petitions Committee will take an active view of Mr Park’s petition and urge on the Scottish Government the need to bring our parenting legislation up to date with current expectations about parental involvement and prevent individual tragedies such as Mr Park’s.”
Families Need Fathers Scotland will be providing further information to the committee about an issue which features in many of the enquiries we receive.