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Matt O’Connor – Men in the Dock: The Fathers for Justice Story

Jul 11, 2020 | Contribution, Visionary Men

Fathers4Justice was founded by Matt O’Connor in 2001 after he was denied access to his two boys, Daniel and Alexander, following a difficult divorce. A design, marketing and PR consultant, Matt was shocked by the cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment of dads in Britain’s secret courts.

Forced into a contact centre to see his boys as part of a “cooling off” period – imposed by a judge after his wife had prevented him going to his house to remove his belongings – Matt was left fighting depression after losing everything.

This was followed by the death of his business partner and subsequent collapse of the parent group of companies. In an interview with John Peel on Radio 4’s Home Truths, Matt later described his life at the time as “like ground zero”. He began to drink heavily and became suicidal, unable to cope with events as his life spiralled out of control.

In 2001, after what he described as an “epiphany” on Waterloo Bridge, Matt decided that instead of jumping off bridges, dads could aspire to start climbing them, and the idea of Fathers4Justice was born. He quickly set up designing a new identity for the campaign, including the infamous ‘purple hand’ logo.

In the past two decades Matt has been at the forefront of attempts to recognise the rights of fathers in the English Legal System, campaigning and taking direct action to raise awareness of the cause, and change the law insofar as it relates to Dads and their children. For a full rundown of the Fathers for Justice Story click here

“i have crack cocaine addict mothers, crystal meth addict mothers, i have violent mothers who are denying dads access to their kids but social services will support that mother through thick and through thin while the father has got no access at all and that is a fundamental failing, institutional discrimination right through the system and it is discrimination simply on the basis of our gender.

– matt o’connor

 matt and I discussed the following in this episode:

  • The problem of courts being unable or unwilling to take to task mothers for breaching of child contact orders and how this has continued in some case.

  • The discriminative nature of the legal system as Matt sees it against fathers insofar as the double standard against Dads.

  • Matt’s statistic that 97% of ‘live with orders’ are given to mothers and by conclusion 97% of men are unfit to have their children living with them.

  • The catastrophic mental health, housing and other impacts it has on Dads lives

  • 1 in 3 domestic abuse victims are men but this fact is not reported in the mainstream.

  • How the conversation around the double standard against men needs to move on from ‘well that’s different’ onto a much more intellectual level.

  • The limited rights in terms of contact, parental responsibility and the fact there is no right in law to see your children.

  • Practice Direction 12J and the fact that even if a mum makes an allegation of violence no contact will be allowed

  • The re-education course if domestic violence is alleged which is dependent on fathers admitting the allegation, however there is no equivalent course for women perpetrators.

  • The idea that all men are perpetrators and all women are victims, Matt sees it as guilty until proven innocence for Dads which undermines the legal system.

  • How the tribal nature of how men vote (framed by Matts background in marketing) sets the political backdrop to how Whitehall pursues a feminist ideology towards the Courts.

  • The single biggest change has been via CAFCASS in the past 20 years.

  • Andy Douglas the Chief Executive of CAFCASS left a legacy where they are a lot better than 20 years ago and the biggest change is that they began to recognise Parental Alienation.

  • The strategies Matt advises in maintaining contact with different age groups where Parental Alienation is taking place and how care needs to be taken with this.

  • The simpler Matt sees parenting arrangements as being the better they will work.

  • The massive amount of pressure Matt has received over the idea of Parental Alienation and ‘father phobia’ as he calls it, where in the family justice system Dads have no rights.

  • Matt encourages Dads to act economically, intelligently and pro-actively, and reveals the successfully average cost spend through a solicitor as being 20-30k.

  • The amazing statistic that 95% of mothers won’t go to mediation (the required step before legal cases proceed to the Family Courts).

  • The issue of free speech and what he referred to as The dictatorship of the prevailing orthodoxy.

  • The Fathers for Justice Foundation, which will give support, counselling, and a slightly different vibe going forward for the organisation.

 

To find out more about matt and how to get in touch with fathers for justice:

Fathers for Justice Website

Fathers for Justice on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter

 

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