Support for Separated Dads

SIGNPOSTING FOR SEPARATED FATHERS

Fathers Direct does not offer a support and information helpline (though many people phone us hoping that we do) so we have developed this state-of-the-art listing. Here you will find a referral organisation for specialist advice on most issues. Do email us (mail@fatherhoodinstitute.org) if you think any of our information is wrong or needs updating (organisations can change their details day to day, and they don’t usually inform us when they do!) or if you feel we have missed something or someone.

Advice Now

An independent, not-for-profit website providing accurate, up-to-date information on rights and legal issues. Its information service brings together the best information on the law and rights from over 200 UK websites, summarised by experts, and presented here.  There is a very good section on Parental Responsibility, and how to get it.  Address: Bramah House, 65-71 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1. However, no individual advice is given and they can’t respond to email queries.

Association of Shared Parenting

A volunteer-staffed organisation that offers grass roots support (mainly in the Midlands) for separated and divorced fathers. Their website keeps you uptodate with the most recent local groups and activities, but you can also contact them by phone on 01789 750891 to be directed to a group. www.sharedparenting.org.uk

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

Many separating and divorcing men find a counsellor is a life-line: sessions with a trained listener can really help you think through the options open to you, to obtain the outcome you want. You need a reputable counsellor who is in ‘supervision’ (that is, who has a more senior counsellor monitoring their work). For the best list countact the BACP. You can find counsellors local to you via their website – or you can telephone them. iBACP House, 35-37 Albert Street, Rugby, Warks CV21 2SG Tel: 0870 443 5252 // Fax: 0870 443 5161 // www.bacp.co.uk

British Association of Lawyer Mediators

The quickest, cheapest and least stressful (for your CHILDREN as well as for yourself) route to sorting out contact and other issues following separation/divorce is mediation (see Family Mediators Association, below). You are MORE likely to get what you want through this route than any other – and, in particular, are likely to end up seeing more of your children (research shows this clearly). If you want to cover legal issues at the same time, why not get yourself a lawyer trained in mediation? You can find them at: BALM, The Shooting Lodge, Guildford Road, Sutton Green, Guildford Surrey GU4 7PZ tel: +44 (0)7000 766 422 fax: +44 (0)1483 237 004 email: info@balm.org.uk

Centre for Separated Families

Runs a national email service accessible by anyone, at advice@separatedfamilies.org.uk.

Childcare Link

Free government information service about childcare options in your district and factsheets on your childcare option, contact freephone 08000 96 02 96 www.childcarelink.gov.uk

Child Support Agency

For general information and advice, call the National Enquiry Line on 08457 133133 (calls normally charged at local rate), or email csa-nel@new100.dss.gsi.gov.uk. You can contact the relevant regional centre for queries on active cases, and their details (including phone numbers) are listed on the CSA website www.dss.gov.uk/csa

Children’s Legal Centre

Leading experts on laws affecting children – the CLC is found at the University of Essex Wivenhoe Park Colchester Essex CO4 3SQ. Tel: 01206 873820 (advice service Monday to Friday 10-12:30 and 2-5 p.m. – out of hours service 0845 1203747). Email: clc@essex.ac.uk or look on the website www.childrenslegalcentre.com  

CAFCASS (Children’s and Family Court Advisory and Support Service)

They’ve attracted a lot of criticism, but they are the organisation likely to write reports on your family if you go to court. There are also good and expert people working for this organisation. Their website gives you regional phone numbers. The National Office is on the 8th Floor, Wyndham House, 189 Marsh Wall. London E14 9SH. Tel: 020 7510 7000 Fax: 020 7510 7001 Email: webenquiries@cafcass.gov.uk  

Citizens’ Advice Bureaux

Love them. Great advice centres with constantly updated information. There’ll be one local to you, but you may need to join the queue. Head Office 020 7833 2181 (for referral to local branches and to answer basic questions). Also look at their website which has a link through to good information and advice on family matters after separation and divorce.

Community Legal Service Direct

Helps people get information about their legal rights and to understand how to enforce them, and who can help them do this. Helpline number is: 0845 345 4 345 and their website is good too.  

Daycare Trust

Everything you ever wanted to know about childcare, including a ‘childcare hotline’ providing information and advice for parents – Call 020 7840 3350 Monday – Friday 10am to 5pm. 21 St George’s Road London SE1 6ES Their website is great, too.

DNA Solutions

Reputable DNA testing organisation, with Court Approved options (for which you need a sample of the mother’s DNA, as well as child’s and father’s). However, simple home testing can deliver effective results. Call 0845 4500010 PO Box 481 Edgware London HA8 8RF. e-mail: UK@DNAnow.com  http://www.DNAsolutions.co.uk  

4Children

A campaigning children’s charity that also provides great information for parents on finding good childcare (especially out of school clubs) and information on the Working Families Tax Credit and other benefits. Great website. Tel: 020 7512 2100 email: Information@4Children.org.uk  Head Office: City Reach 5 Greenwich View Place London E14 9NN

Families Need Fathers

The leading UK charity offering volunteer-based help for parents – mostly dads – to maintain child-parent relationships around family breakdown. Variable quality (as with most volunteer-manned organisations) but huge experience of family courts and family breakdown. It offers local advice/support meetings + helplines and a witty and informative newsletter. 134 Curtain Rd, London EC2A 3AR. Helpline: 0300 0300 110 (between 6pm and 10pm). Email fnf@fnf.org.uk Useful publications and website.

Family Division Principal Registry

The people you need to contact if you are an unmarried father and want to take the first steps to obtaining legal ‘parental responsibility’ for your child. Unless your child was born after December 2003 and your name is on that child’s birth certificate, you will not have legal parental responsibility. If your child’s mother agrees that you can have Parental Responsibility, you can phone 020 7947 6936, to order Parental Responsibility Agreement Form which you both then fill out. You can also download a Parental Responsibility Agreement Form.  If your child’s mother does not agree to your having Parental Responsibility you will have to get a Parental Responsibility ORDER through the courts.  For more information about Parental Responsibility view Advice Now’s information page.

Family Mediators Association

Family mediation is a process by which couples who are considering separation or divorce are assisted to make arrangements, communicate better and to reduce the conflict between them to reach their own agreed joint decisions. The FMA can be found Grove Road, Grove House, Redland, Bristol BS6 6UN Tel 0117 946 7062 E-mail: info@fmassoc.co.uk or you can go to their website to find a mediator local to you: 

Family Rights Group

Free advice for families when social services are involved with a child in the family. Also know a lot about rules in private law cases. www.frg.org.uk Advice line (freephone number 0800 731 1696) is open: Mon to Fri: 10am-12pm and 1.30pm-3.30pm. Or email advice@frg.org.uk or write: The Print House, 18 Ashwin Street, London, E8 3DL.
Gingerbread Offers lone parents and their children practical and emotional support, including benefits, education, housing. Freephone advice line 0800 018 4318. Mon – Fri 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Grandparents’ Association

Works to improve the lives of children by working with grandparents. Tel Helpline: 01279 444964 (Best time to telephone: variable – message on answerphone). Tel (Admin): 01279 428040 Fax: 01279 428040 Web: www.grandparents-association.org.uk Moot House, The Stow, Harlow, Essex CM20 3AG

Grandparents’ Federation

Specialises in legal advice in both public and private law cases (i.e. when local authorities are involved, or when parents can’t agree). Tel helpline on 01279 444964. 10-4 every day and some evenings. http://www.solicitorhelp.com/grandparentefederation1.htm

Jigsaw, UK (formerly known as One Parent Families Support and Information Service)

Based in York, this organisation that once based its brief around lone mothers has genuinely widened its remit and concern to separated dads, whether or not they are living with their children. During its period of transition to the new organisation (Jigsaw UK), this support service has two websites: http://www.oneparentfamilies-network.org.uk and http://www.jigsaw-UK.org. However, the most exciting thing for fathers is that they have an excellent email reply service, that can help you with a lot of issues from benefits’ advice to court processes. Email: advice@jigsaw-UK.org or contact Research & Information Worker (Steve Millett) research@oneparentfamilies-network.org.uk or 01904 610268. Mailing address: 21 Priory Street, York YO1 6ET

NHS Direct

Separated dads need to keep themselves and their children healthy. The NHS has this excellent National health information service which you can phone at any time for advice, perhaps with worries about symptoms. 0845 46 47. http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk  

National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC)

Child Contact Centres are places where children of separated families can spend time with one or both parents and sometimes other family members, where there are no other viable options. There’s now an excellent network, with some great support. NACCC can be reached on 0845 4500 280 (Fax: 0845 4500 420) email: contact@naccc.org.uk Minerva House, Spaniel Row, Nottingham NG1 6EP 0115 948 4557 www.naccc.org.uk  

National Association for Child Support Action (NACSA)

Grassroots agency that can help sort out problems with the child support system. Very good website www.nacsa.org.uk  No telephone helpline service, but email help via enquiries@nacsa.co.uk or write to NACSA Ltd, Po Box 4120, 20 Market Street, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 1WY

National Childminding Association

Everything you need to know about finding – or becoming – a childminder. FREE nformation line 0800 169 4486. www.ncma.org.uk. 8 Masons Hill, Bromley Kent BR2 9EY

One Parent Families/Gingerbread

Offers free advice for all lone parents including benefits, childcare, education/training, money, maintenance, legal rights, housing.  Phone the Lone Parent Helpline on 0800 018 5026, Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Wed 9am-8pm (calls are free from landlines, mobile rates vary).  The Lone Parent Helpdesk has up-to-date information on a wide range of issues affecting lone parents.  Address: 255 Kentish Town Road, London, NW5 2LX Tel: 020 7428 5400 (office).

National Debtline

Free confidential advice on any debt issues. 0808 808 4000 (www.nationaldebtline.co.uk/  

National Family Mediation

Network of over 60 local not-for-profit agencies in England and Wales offering help with non-court-based conflict resolution to all couples in the process of separation and divorce. Mediation is not advised where there are ongoing issues of domestic violence, but otherwise it is the cheapest and usually the best method of sorting out differences. Mediation is shown to result in higher father child contact, much greater satisfaction by fathers – and satisfaction by mothers equal to (and less expensive than) the satisfaction they’d get from court process. So find your local mediation service NOW. Tel: 0117 904 2824 general@nfm.org.uk  Alexander House, Telephone Avenue, Bristol BX1 4BS

Parentline Plus

Free national helpline for anyone concerned about children that they are looking after. Offers help and information to over 85,000 parents and families each year. Free telephone helpline 0808 800 2222 Free textphone 0800 783 6783 Free email advice service.  They also have a good web material about managing family change – e.g. http://www.parentlineplus.org.uk/index.php?id=323

Relate

The leading provider of couple counselling in the UK. Fees on a sliding scale. Sometimes there’s a bit of a wait but put your name down a.s.a.p. And don’t assume your partner (or ex-partner) won’t go: get the appointment sorted, and you may find they’ll attend. Herbert Gray College, Little Church Street, Rugby, Warwicks CV21 3AP TEL: 01788 573241 www.relate.org.uk

Resolution (formerly known as the Solicitors Family Law Association)

Provides lists of local solicitors experienced in family law work. Address: P.O. Box 302, Orpington,Kent BR6 8QX (enclose a stamped addressed envelope). Tel: 01689 850227, or 0345 585671 (charged at local rate). Go on to internet email: info@sfla.co.uk or look in Yellow Pages under Solicitors for box listing local SFLA solicitors.

Samaritans

Twenty-four hour telephone and face to face support service for anyone feeling sad or desperate. Remember that the impact of suicide is felt down the generations – one of the risk factors for suicide is to have a close relative who committed it. So don’t kill yourself – you may condemn your children to a similar fate. Get help now: 08457 90 90 90 (UK) 1850 609090 (Republic of Ireland) Email: jo@samaritans.org www.samaritans.org.uk

Shared Parenting Information Group (SPIG)

Promotes responsible shared parenting after separation and divorce. Useful website (www.spig.clara.net) with masses of information and ideas about shared parenting.

Shelter

Free 24-hour advice line 0808 800 4444 on homelessness issues.  Also has an online advice service (www.shelter.org.uk) and runs Housing Aid Centres and publishes information, including on housing rights after relationship breakdown.  It has really helpful sections on finding yourself a home, with all the implications for benefits carefully set out.

Warmfront

Keep yourself and your children warm! This is a home energy efficiency scheme, government-funded, to help people in receipt of income or disability related benefits to improve the insulation and heating in their home – for free. Freephone 0800 980 8368