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Families Need Fathers

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Families Need Fathers
FoundersAlick Elithorn, Keith Parkin
Type1979 Ltd. UK
FocusEnglish Family Law * Shared Parenting
HeadquartersLondon, England
Board Chair
Paul O’Callaghan
Board Vice Chair
Emlyn Jones
Chief Executive Officer
Sam Morfey
Affiliations50 branches across the UK

Families Need Fathers - Both Parents Matter (FNF), founded in 1974, is a registered charitable social care organization in the United Kingdom that offers information, advice, and support to parents whose children's relationship with them is under threat during or after divorce or separation, or who have been alienated or estranged from their children. FNF also advocates for shared parenting, more time for children with their non-resident parent, and stronger court actions when a resident parent defies court orders requiring them to allow their children a relationship with the other parent. The organization's goal is that children of divorce or separation should not lose the love and care of one of their parents.[1][2]


In the United Kingdom, roughly one-third of children of separated parents have no contact with their father, and the organization is primarily concerned with maintaining a child's relationship with both parents during and after family breakdown.[3]

The majority of the charity's work is to provide relief, assistance, guidance and support to parents and other close family members hoping to stay in touch with their children after divorce or separation. It is aimed at the further emotional development of children whose parents have separated by encouraging shared parenting arrangements. The organization also seeks to study problems associated with children who are deprived of a parent, and to promote an understanding of these problems among family, legal professionals and policy makers.

History and organization[edit]

Families Need Fathers was founded in May 1974 by child psychiatrist Alick Elithorn and financial consultant Keith Parkin as an organization to campaign for equal parenting time after divorce, and for increased contact between a child and its non-custodial parent. The organization became a registered charity in 1979, and was able to hire staff in 1992. As the organization grew in the 1990s, previous employees founded several new organizations with similar missions, such as Parents Forever Scotland, the Association of Shared Parenting, Dads After Divorce, and Fathers4Justice. In 1994, the Cheltenham Group was formed by FNF, Dads After Divorce and Parents Forever Scotland in an attempt to form a coalition of parenting organizations.[4][5][6][7]

In 2008, FNF launched projects under the slogan "Both Parents Matter" and this strapline was added to the charity's logo in 2013. By 2010, the organization had 51 branches across the United Kingdom and a network of 300 volunteers.[4] It has since continued to advocate for shared parenting in the media, the House of Commons and the family justice establishment, while continuing its work as a social care organization.[8][9][10]

Jon Davies was the chief executive from 2006 to 2010. The current chair is Paul O'Callaghan.[4][11]

In 2009 guidance produced by Families Need Fathers came under criticism for giving the impression that they might have emanated from, or were approved by, the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF ) or Cafcass.[12]

Parental support work[edit]

In 2016, Families Need Fathers received around 25,000 calls to its Helpline, around 5,000 visitors to local meetings, and 185,000 unique page views to its website.[13]

Shared parenting advocacy[edit]

The organization advocates for shared parenting, whereby the children live substantial amount of time with both of their divorced or separated parents. They base their advocacy on scientific studies showing that shared parenting is in the best interest of children, citing research by Malin Bergström, Robert Bauserman, Richard Layard, Judith Dunn, Rebekah Levine Coley and Bethany L. Medeiros, among others.[14][15]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Families Need Fathers, About Us
  2. ^ "Families Need Fathers Limited". Charity Commission. 31 January 2012.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Bingham, John (16 November 2009). "Third of family break-up children lose contact with fathers in 'failing' court system, poll". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 19 November 2009.
  4. ^ a b c Logue, Hugh (30 July 2010). "Interview with Jon Davies, outgoing CEO of Families Need Fathers". familylaw.co.uk.
  5. ^ Keith Parkin, Fathers need their families Archived 2022-04-29 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, June 12, 1974.
  6. ^ ExInjuria - Moving beyond injustice, An Exercise in Absolute Futility, February 9, 2014.
  7. ^ Barry Worrall, Without authority, The Cheltenham Group, 2004.
  8. ^ O'Sullivan, Jack (13 June 2012). "Fathers finally get equal access rights ..." The Guardian.
  9. ^ "Professional groups welcome the key proposals of the Family Justice Review". Family Law Week. 13 June 2012. Archived from the original on 5 February 2023. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  10. ^ Owen, Cathy (14 June 2011). "Dads made to feel part of the family". South Wales Echo.
  11. ^ Families Need Fathers, National Council Archived 2022-01-04 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Academics criticise Families Need Fathers' guidance". www.familylaw.co.uk. Retrieved 2024-02-09.
  13. ^ "Families Need Fathers - Families Need Fathers - FNF Accounts and Annual Report 2015-16". fnf.org.uk. Archived from the original on 2017-10-27. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  14. ^ Families Need Fathers, What is Shared Parenting?
  15. ^ Families Need Fathers, Shared Parenting Research

External links[edit]