Fathers4Justice launches bizarre ‘Ditch The Witch’ campaign outside Johnny Depp court case

Johnny Depp-Amber Heard story is ‘best advert for divorce in the world’, fathers’ rights group says

Emily Goddard
Tuesday 21 July 2020 17:15 BST

Fathers4Justice (F4J) parked a mobile campaign advert bearing the words “Ditch The Witch” outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday to mark Johnny Depp’s libel trial.

The fathers’ rights group, known for protest stunts such as dressing as Batman and scaling Buckingham Palace, said the stunt was a part of the launch of a campaign for divorce reform.

It said lurid details emerging at the trial about Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard were “the best advert for divorce in the world”, but that the proposed “no-fault divorce” law will make it easier for fathers to be removed from families and drive warring parents into the family courts.

The divorce, dissolution and separation bill, which adds a sixth reason for divorce – “no fault” – is expected to become law by Autumn 2021.

Matt O’Connor, the founder of F4J, said his group wants to end the “fraud of the rings” and establish “divorce equality” between husbands and wives after separation.

He said: “The new divorce laws are a gold diggers’ charter and a licence to bill giving lifetime pay-outs to greedy bridezillas.

“Women don’t marry men for their money, they divorce them for it.”

The Divorce4Men campaign, which is also running on beer mats and in men’s toilets in pubs, wants to see an end to spousal maintenance, a legal presumption of 50/50 automatic shared parenting and a 50/50 division of assets, and a six-month “cooling-off” period with mandatory mediation and counselling before either party can file for divorce.

Mr O’Connor said the “sexist” no-fault divorce bill is “good for business” for lawyers, but “bad for dads and terrible for children”.

However, the Women’s Equality Party said the Fathers4Justice campaign “reeks of misogyny” and its suggestions risk trapping parents and children in “dangerous” living situations.

Mandu Reid, the party’s leader, said: “The patronising recommendation from Fathers4Justice that women should be ‘encouraged to be financially independent’ assumes a level playing field and ignores the fact that many fathers are simply not willing to share the load and provide 50 per cent of the practical and financial support that their children need.

“The reality is that women are far more likely to take on the bulk of childcare than men before and after separation, with women accounting for 90 per cent of single parents.

“Meanwhile, women earn significantly less than men due to the gender pay gap, which widens to a staggering 33 per cent for new mothers over the 12 years following their return to work from maternity leave.

“To brand women in this position ‘gold-diggers’, for expecting and accepting spousal maintenance payments calculated according to the income of both parents, reeks of misogyny.

“Meanwhile, the insistence on a six-month cooling-off period and a default 50/50 custody arrangement (rather than the current rule that custody is based on the best interests of the child) ignores the fraught realities of many relationships and risks trapping parents and children in unhappy or even dangerous living situations.

“Fathers4Justice has accused the no-fault divorce law of sexism, which is exactly what their own campaign is guilty of.”

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