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Single Fathers' Association: Court system needs to change

By Sue-Ann Wayow sue-ann.wayow@trinidadexpress.com

IF fathers would only be allowed an opportunity to be a part of their children's lives, the crime rate would drastically decrease.

This is according to Rhondall Feeles who formed  the  Single Fathers' Association Trinidad and Tobago (SFATT) last month.

The association is still to be registered and a meeting with Justice Minister Herbert Volney is expected to be held soon.

Feeles said he formed the association because he grew up without his father and feels deprived as he is not seeing his five-year-old son as much as he may want to.

Feeles, 28 , said,

"Most fathers today are those that didn't have fathers . They don't even know how it feels to be a father. I don't want to know that I can't be there at my son's graduation or other special events when he is counting on me to be there. It is like I will be reliving my entire past."

Feeles contacted the president of Lone Father Association Australia (LFAA) Barry Williams, an association instrumental in fighting for changes  in many family court laws in Australia, seeking advice.

He said, "This is a time that our system  needs to change. Too many young lives are  being snatched away. Young children, particularly young boys,  need to be mentored  and young ladies  need  to experience paternal love so that they  do not feel neglected  and less worthy. One of our founding members who is currently a prisons officer working  with the youth at the prison stated that many of  the  young inmates there admitted that not having a father made it a lot  easier to slip into a life of crime. Some, he said, felt as if they were born at a disadvantage, with the responsibility of becoming  a  man falling   squarely, and some times too soon, on their shoulders."

Feeles said, "We believe  that if  the  court  systems were more on a level playing field and  women stood  just  as great a chance as men of losing custody of  their  kids and having to pay maintenance, both parties  would  put  aside their past personal issues and focus  on the child's happiness without a court  order having  to be issued.

"The  court  has  now  become  a house  of revenge for relationships gone sour. The time for this to end is  now and fathers and  mothers need to begin cooperating for the sakes of our  children."

He also asked that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar "look into this matter  because  as  trivial as some may deem  this  issue, our homes have  the greatest impact on what each person becomes in life."

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