CSA: estranged parents, non-benefit cases, failings of the Act : LETTER S

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From Mr Bruce Lidington Sir: Your leading article on the proposed Child Support Agency reforms suggests that the CSA's existence "is making men think differently about their responsibility towards their children" and that it may "lead to (liable) fathersplaying a larger emotional role in the lives of their estranged children". This is to stand reality on its head.

The vast majority of the CSA's targets have becomes such through actions over which, under current law, they have had no control. The overwhelming majority of family splits among those who are above subsistence income levels are initiated by the parent who assumes care of the children.

The judicial, legal and social culture that has developed over the past two decades in the UK has come to see an estranged parent's emotional commitment to children as administratively undesirable and inconvenient. Such parents, seeking to maintain a healthy and balanced relationship with their children, soon find themselves described under law as "obsessive". Against this background, the majority of separated parents find that they are being unwillingly squeezed our of their children's lives.

For 20 years estranged parents have been silent and docile as they have tried to rebuild their shattered lives. The CSA, with its spurious moral crusade and use of offensive terms such as "absent parent" has led to these parents concluding that their only absence has been from the media. They are now seeking their rightful place in their children's lives.

Yours faithfully, BRUCE LIDINGTON Chairman Families Need Fathers London, EC2

24 January