18th June, 2010
Hon’ble Chief Justice
High Court of Andhra Pradesh
Subject: Seeking justice for Fathers and Children separated due to marital discords
We seek your personal and valuable intervention in setting right the gross injustice being done to men and children in matters of matrimonial conflicts where custody of children is granted only to women, with total disregard to the love and affection that fathers and children have towards each other.
Fathers are denied custody as a rule rather than an exception. If at all visitation is ordered to fathers, it is limited to 30 min or 1 hour in a month contrary to the requirement of the UN resolution that no child should be denied access to either of the parents.
We are constrained to bring to your notice that Indian Family Courts appear to have declared a war against fathers and are adopting every possible means to create a “fatherless society” and to reduce men to mere ATM machines and sperm donors.
Family Courts have adopted the unhealthy practice of
- Depriving fathers of the right to love and care for their biological children.
- Forcing fathers to pay huge sums of money to support children they are not allowed to see.
- Encouraging false allegations of abuse to paint fathers as unfit parents.
- Permitting multiple legal battles to eliminate biological fathers from their children’s lives.
- Passing ex-parte orders based solely on the allegations made by a child’s mother.
- Allowing mothers to brazenly disobey visitation orders without legal repercussions to them.
- Allowing biological fathers to be labelled “kidnappers” for trying to make contact with their own children.
- Prolonging custody/visitation matters for years, thereby driving fathers into financial and emotional bankruptcy and forcing them to give up the desire to see their children.
Cases filed in Family Courts linger on indefinitely while wives enjoy full custody of children, interim maintenance and child support at the expense of husbands.
The attitude of the Family Courts in the matters of ordering child custody/visitation, maintenance and alimony is completely biased against husbands.
While there is much emphasis on a wife’s rights on husbands and children, no order is passed on the responsibilities of a wife towards herself and her matrimonial family. Husbands, on the other hand, are heaped with disproportionate responsibilities with no rights over their wives or children.
The brazenly anti-male mindset of Indian Family Courts is making it a crime to be born male in India. The continued onslaught on men and manhood is gradually destroying the faith of men on the system of marriage and societal values as a whole. As a result many men are being forced to commit suicide or shun marriage altogether paving the way for a fatherless society full of single mothers in the future.
We request the Hon’ble Chief Justice to ponder over these issues and contribute towards promoting a congenial atmosphere in the Family Courts for men, women and children.
On the occasion of Fathers’ Day, we wish to make the following demands:
Reforms in Mediation Counseling and Pleadings:
- The presence of and pleadings by Advocates in the Family Court and mediation process should be eliminated as mandated by the Family Courts Act.
- Persons who are professionally qualified and have a balanced perspective on family and society should be appointed as counsellors and mediators.
- Counsellors and mediators should be adequately compensated fixing a rate of at least Rs. 20,000 per case, made payable by the spouses equally.
- Mediators should be given exclusive powers to decide on dates and adjournments and should be required to conduct mediations and counselling throughout the year without holidays.
- No in-camera and chamber proceedings should be held unless absolutely necessary and the purpose duly recorded in the Court register.
- Courts should order perjury and contempt proceedings in case of exaggerated statements and false allegations or affidavits related to employment, earnings, cruelty etc. when such allegations are proved to be false.
- Spouses making false allegations should be punished under the appropriate sections of the Indian Penal Code.
Child Custody matters:
Family Courts should ensure that both parents are given equal custody of children irrespective of the accusations of either party (such as a mother being adulterous or a father being a drunkard). The practice of showing children for 30 minutes or 1 hour like a TV show to a father without providing him an opportunity to demonstrate his fatherly care and affection should be done away with. We strongly denounce the attitude of the Family Courts which consider children as the exclusive property of the wife and totally deny access to the husband and his family while passing interim and final orders.
We strongly condemn the belief of the Family Courts that the husband alone is bound to earn and maintain his wife and children, even though the wife is either earning or sufficiently qualified to earn.
The practice of passing orders for monetary compensation, should be done away with and instead, parents should be directed to share the responsibilities like buying medical insurance, pay the school fee, purchase clothes, books etc., for children based on their respective and combined financial capacities.
The following steps should be immediately taken by Family Courts across the country to uphold the rights of fathers and ensure the welfare of children:
- Special fast-track courts should be set up at the earliest to deal with custody issues.
- Exclusive, fully functioning Divisional Bench should be set up in all High Courts and Supreme Court to hear appeals in matters of child custody.
- When a person or couple approaches court for divorce, counseling of the parents by professional counselors should be given first priority.
- Except in extreme cases of violence or unhealthy behavior by either partner, children should be given equal and meaningful access to both parents and grandparents on both sides.
- Both parents should be given financial responsibility of the child proportionate to their earnings and not based on demands made by either partner.
- If a partner prevents a child from having equal and meaningful contact with the other partner, they should be counseled first to understand the importance of equal parenting and the best interest of a child.
- If either partner repeatedly disobeys orders of equal access and meaningful contact with children, then the children should be placed in the full custody of the partner who will allow equal access to the other parent.
We submit that our demands are just and reasonable and that the non-implementation of our demands will result in serious consequences to men, women, children, families and the society as a whole.
We enclose, herewith, the petitions signed by hundreds of fathers in the Family Courts in Hyderabad.
We look forward to your prompt intervention and necessary action in this regard.
All India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA