One in three separated mothers think their children’s fathers should have no say in their upbringing, according to a report yesterday. It found that 32 per cent of separated mothers thought that they alone had the right to make decisions about best child upbringing children’s future.
The high proportion found by a survey implies that more than one in 10 of all the families in the country include mothers who do not want the fathers of their children to have a say over the future of their children. The findings were revealed in a survey carried out for the counselling group Relate. It comes at a time of deepening concern among judges and education experts over the absence of fathers from the lives of millions of youngsters. The Child Support Agency was set up in the early 1990s to try to force absent fathers at least to pay for the children they had abandoned. But the figure for mothers unveiled by Relate was more than double the number of men who believed that one parent from a separated or divorced couples should be able to decide alone how to raise the children. Worries over mothers who want to exile separated fathers from their children’s lives have been coming to the fore in recent months, notably in two prominent High Court cases in which judges questioned why mothers had been allowed to prevent fathers from taking a role with their children. Six out of 10 thought a family break-up was always a bad thing and just over half of separated parents acknowledged that the split had had a negative impact on their children.
But the continued bitterness between mothers and fathers, and the wish of many mothers to cut fathers out of their children’s lives, was laid bare in questions about how parents should cope with separation. One notable difference was in attitudes between the separated mothers and fathers we asked on who should make decisions about children’s futures,’ the report said. Here, 68 per cent of separated mothers said both parents should make decisions together about children’s futures, compared to 85 per cent of fathers. Relate estimates that a third of all British families have been through a parental break-up, so on the counselling group’s reckoning around one in nine of all families are led by a mother who wants to keep the father out of decision-making. Family courts trying to help warring couples re-arrange their lives have long struggled with the difficulty of dealing with intransigent mothers. Judges are reluctant to punish children further by sending mothers to prison. At one stage Labour ministers tried to get around the problem with a plan to make mothers who disobey court orders obey curfews and wear electronic tags.