The Herald revealed in August how Jonathan 'Jolly' Stanesby, 39, had secured joint residence to have equal care of his 10-year-old daughter after a high-profile wrangle with the family courts.
A founding member of the Fathers 4 Justice campaign group, he was jailed last year after camping out on deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman's roof dressed as a superhero.
But now Jolly, from Ivybridge, is taking his fight back into court – to claim back almost a decade's-worth of lost earnings and legal fees.
He described himself as 'emotionally drained' and said the gruelling eight-year process had forced him to give up work and sell land, leaving him crippled by debt.
Now settling into being a dad again, Jolly says he is looking to retrain for a new career and put some cash away for his daughter, and plans to do that by taking the Ministry of Justice to court for more than £100,000.
"A lot of what I've lost is priceless," he said. "The time my daughter missed out on you can't put a price on. Then you've got my loss of wages over four or five years, legal fees and all the phone calls since it began eight years ago.
"It's amazing how it all adds up. I'll never be able to put a figure on it."
Jolly is now submitting an application to Plymouth County Court in the hope of fixing a date for a directions hearing.
He said he would take his new battle as far as it would go.
Jolly admitted his long battle with the family courts, which began in 2001, had left him 'completely destroyed', but even more determined to raise awareness of fathers' rights.
"I've lost everything and now I've got to restart everything I'd done," Jolly said. "I've gone back 10 years in my life.
"I lost my job, they took my driving licence away, my credit rating was destroyed and I went to prison.
"That means I can never work in childcare, which is what I really wanted to do: but at the end of the day, I'm lucky.
"A lot of people don't fight the family courts, and at least now I get to see my daughter.
"All the time she's missed out on seeing me and all the things she's missed out on doing you can't put a price on. I used to keep animals and we'd go camping and all the things she'd love to experience.
"When you spend eight years going through this, you have to think about where the money's coming from to feed yourself.
"I've got to retrain, but it's not easy because I'm not a teenager any more," he said. "I've looked at going to university but it's very tough with the cost."
Jolly said a fellow-Fathers 4 Justice campaigner had spent £250,000 on legal fees during his own custody battle.
"Most people who go through the family courts are so exhausted they just want an end to it and to cut their losses," he added, "but the way I feel is, I've got a 10-year-old daughter with her whole life ahead of her and it's only fair I try and give something back to her. That's the reason I'm doing this."
Thank you for your comment.
- There is a great deal of misunderstanding by folks about what happens to the parents and a child upon separation and divorce. Let me simplify it for you. If you are a parent and love your children perhaps you can empathize. During the marriage parents are equal to their child. Upon divorce mum usually gets custody and dad is discarded as a visitor if he is lucky. He does continue to have to support his children even though he may be locked out of the house he lived in before hand. The ex wife gets vindictive for whatever reason - there are lots of them - and she denies him access. He has to go to court over a prolonged period to regain access but is often unsuccessful because the Judges are Eunuchs and won't enforce access. They will enforce non-payment of support for the child, however. This court process carries on for years in many cases just so dad can see his children. This does not cost the taxpayers money for his fight it costs him, in many cases, his life savings and sometimes his job if false accusations of abuse are made. The court process is emotionally draining and financially devastating. The only winners are the lawyers, if you can afford one, and the judges/court appointed acolytes. Some dads get fed up and walk away. Mum has won the day by her actions for selfish ends but the child has lost a parent, 50% of her/his genetic inheritance. Other dads, who also really care and love their children with a passion look at other choices and some take to civil disobedience because they see the bias, injustice, dysfunction and unfairness of the family law system and protest it just like other civil rights leaders. They are often impugned by others, as we see here on this thread, but history and their children will remember them as those who saw injustice and fought it - despite the personal cost including name calling by those with little understanding or they could well be those very same vindictive ex's. This fight is occurring in many countries around the world including mine and we will prevail to get a presumption of equal shared residency for fit parents in due course. If your Tories get in and you dump the Socialists it may be in a few years time. That is short compared to the fight by some over the last 20 years.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 23:28
- Just curious did Mr Jolly pay maintenance for his daughter during his campaigning yearsReport abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 22:36
- Let things rest now. If your daughter does want to spend time with you, make sure it is quality time.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 22:13
- I've been asterisked!
It rhymes with "mass"Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 21:39
- Dickens Mr Bumble summed it up nicely in Oliver Twist- "The law is a ***".
At least all the dads who've been wronged can look forward to the time when their kids are old enough to hop on the bus and visit them regardless of whether their mother likes it or not.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 21:37
- Quote-"he says he lost £100,000 fighting an eight-year legal battle for access to his daughter"
I'd have defended you for a fiver mateReport abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 21:33
- I sincerely hope you succeed perhaps you will go on to give hope to the thousands of other parents that have had their lives wrecked by the family destroying corrupt courts. Children are not safe in the care system as we all know, so why the hell we continue to allow these criminals to have any power over our families is a mystery to me....Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 21:19
- well done jolly these secreat corupt family court need to be exposedReport abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 21:06
- I take it Ryan Blackmore is not a tax payer then?
Jolly should not be concerned about his employment prospects, he would make a great circus clown - all that dressing up, climbing things, and a captive audience.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 20:53
- I thought most fathers had legal access to their children anyway! why did he need to fight?Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 20:33
- good on u m8, get as much from these bloody tax payers as we can, they dont give us enough as it is.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 20:09
- All Jolly is doing is fighting for what is right a corrupt system. This man is doing what a lot of us in his situation cant. In years to some this man will be regarded a Suffragette and compared agaisnt Emmeline Pankhurst. Before it was FREE JOLLY now its WIN JOLLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do it for us dadsReport abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 19:56
- which would your daughter look back on with pride- he Father spending the next years fighting the Courts and in the papers all the time and on benfits- or going to prove to her that he has moved on, getting a job and enjoying his time with his daughter.As a tax payer I hope I'm not going to be paying for his legal aid bill!Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 19:47
- Typical of this country, you are more upset at the holdups from his demonstrations than you are by the injustice done to many.
Too many people just roll over and accept whats given to them. Good on you Jolly, make people pay for making you fight to see your own daughter.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 19:44
- Give it a rest Jolly, you've had more than £100,000 of us tax payers money over the past 8 yrs with all your stupid antics causing disruption etc, just be grateful you now have regular access to your daughter...........spend your time with her NOT on more rediculous stunts that we the rest of us end up paying forReport abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 18:32
- "Please elucidate your wonderful inventive construction of words that you believe to be meaningful?
. Mike Murphy, Sault Ste. Marie, ON Canada"
Mike, me old fruit. You're wasting your time trying to get any sense out of this lot. They speak Janner, not English.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 18:11
- right or wrong the system sucks , its loaded in favour of the mother who often only wants the child so she can claim all the benifits. and you do quite nicely if your a single mother.
it took two to create the child so why can't more mothers allow more access to the father answer they have the power given to them in the courts. i suspect this chap went back to the courts again and again but got no help support from the courts just let the mother keep milking the system.
i have neigbours who have spilt up they live 200 yds apart he is single she is single and they are together every day. but both claim single parent benifit its us idiot who are funding this government approved system.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 17:46
- Well said Nigel Ace fully agree with you. After what this porr Father has been through I wish him the very best of luck. Go for it Jolly !!!!Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 17:40
- Best of luck to him. its only £10k per year which is less than the minimum wage.
Had the law given an equal parity of rights to dads, then he would not have had to campaign and fight his way to justice.
WELL DONE JOLLY!!! An example to all dads who dont see their kids!!1Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 17:26
- If this man's ex-partner had ever spoken out I suspect that she would be saying that he had plenty of contact with his daughter all along. Did he choose not to have contact on occasions because he was up to some pathetic attention seeking publicity event. What does such attrocious behavioiur model to his daughter - does he not think she would not be adversely affected by this? Most people do work whilst they are in court sorting such issues out - this was his CHOICE to use the public funding system and not work - and for what, so a parents needs can be prioritised over the welfare of the child. Selfish ********
The newspapers should also be ashamed for not clarifying FACTS fully before publishing inaccurate, one-sided stories.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 17:25
- good oh ya mate, i think the system sucks for us fathers just cause were fathers, our government and the system are so corrupt it needs to be abolished, but us dads suffer when a break up occurs and its just not fairReport abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 17:16
- alot of negative comments here,
however if this arrogant government sorted issues out jolly wouldnt need to do this,
legal-aid .. who cares ? , gotta get something back for years of payments for a child he never saw
good luch jolly if you persue !Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 17:01
- If this is the path to take than watch out as MUMs will be stinking rich! Think how many times they have had to look after another child, their husband or male partner. Maybe they can get compansation of having to put up with all the crap men dont do.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 16:59
- Mike what the hell are you talking about. The reason kids would say my dad can beat your dad up is because a lot of dads teach their sons about violence. You dont hear many women going to court over their kids as they normally have them and 99 percent of the time make better parents all round.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 16:51
- Lets hope 'Jolly' starts by wiping his own slate clean and getting rid of all the graffiti which his supporters have splashed around S Hams. What did they achieve by ruining the nice stone railway bridge in Sparkwell. You won the argument, now get cleaning!Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 16:50
- Attention seeking still?????Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 16:33
- @ P, Plymouth What does this drivel mean "it is a fact that the formation of the family has little to do with a childs exposure to risk factors which can cause negative effects in their adult life. " First of all it is grammatically incoherent, 2ndly where are the facts?
Please elucidate your wonderful inventive construction of words that you believe to be meaningful?
I'm incredibly intrigued at your observations.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 16:31
- You make me ashamed to be British! Sue your ex-wife and not the court, as who fits the bill? You don't have a job so it won't be you will it! it'll be the tax payers who never forced you in to parenthood, I hope you loseReport abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 15:57
- @lorry driver, on the road___ I guess you can't be working too hard if you are on the road there lorry driver. Sounds just a tad hypocritical to me. You must be on a regular break are you - or are you a fan of Harriet Harmon and her ilk who think men are pretty useless. P of Plymouth seems to agree with HH.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 15:33
- @pim plymouth "mike murphy, you are an idiot."
I think this statement sums up the depth of your thinking and knowledge. You sound more like a feminist than a man, but then you can be both. It is relatively shallow and uninformed and reminds me of a nine year old boy who once yelled at me across the school yard "my dad can beat up your dad". Do your research bud - you will be surprised at what you find and then come back and debate intelligently. Otherwise stay quiet and atop embarrassing yourself.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 15:21
- hope you win, then i can sue you for loss of earnings.
it wasnt about your daughter was it. its about you. get a job like the rest of us. u are a criminal and like to cause trouble and hold up other hard working peopleReport abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 15:17
- mike murphy, you are an idiot. Most single mums provide protective factors which reduce their childrens risk to psyco-social factors such as poverty. it is a fact that the formation of the family has little to do with a childs exposure to risk factors which can cause negative effects in their adult life. statistics can be used to almost prove anything including how many children are killed by their fathers after their relationship with the birth mother has ended. i for one am sick of people knocking single parents and blaming them for all of societies ill's. many children are better of without their fathers around. yes i agree that it is best for children to have the benefit of knowing and learning from both parents but it has to be accepted that this isnt always best for the child. I support the idea that most but not all children benefit from contact with both parents and feel desperatly sorry for the children who's fathers simply can't be bothered when they split from the mother. i also feel sorry for fathers who are prevented from seeing their children needlessly or when children are used as bargining tools for child support money. but really the idea that men protect their children from abuse by their mothers is idiotic and i suggest you spend some time improving your knowledge on the subject.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 15:14
- Why is he suing the Ministry of justice (i.e the taxpayers) and not his ex?
If he is successful I hope he will reimburse all the people he has inconvenienced over the years, for example those of us that got caught up when he climbed the overhead gantry on the Tamar Bridge.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 15:09
- @ Mike, Plim - Just hope you never get caught in the embrace of family courts and a vindictive ex and you will change your tune 180 degrees in very short order.
You are obviously speaking from a vast amount of inexperience.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 14:49
- @Tilley. Sorry to say Tilley but there are numerous negative social outcomes for children in single mother households from poverty, earlier promiscuity, greater chance of truancy, drug use, jail, etc. The list is quite long and knows no borders. It is well researched in Australia/New Zealand, North America and Europe. Judges, lawyers, politicians and it appears regular people like you are unaware of it. Study up and google for information.
Keep in mind these are statistical averages as most children do fine but on balance if you check the demographics of prison populations you will find many grew up in a single parent family and the majority of rapists were raised by single moms. Children are safer and better socialized in two biological parent families, the next best is in a shared parenting environment of the bio mom and dad and then with a single dad. In the USA and Australia single moms are statistically the greater abusers and killers of children. Its a well kept secret that dads are hard wired as protectors of women and their children and not the abusers feminist literature and propaganda indicates we are.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 14:46
- After years of declaring all he wants is his child an nothing else matters, now he has access he wants his money back too. Beware of this man employers its not what he can do for his country but what his country can do for himReport abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 14:38
- GOOD LUCK!
It is refreshing to see people holding the government to account.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 14:25
- Its great that parents or guardians fight for their children but having no father does not cause more pregnancies or crime or what ever anyone else is saying. Thats absurd. It depends on the individual situation and cannot be generalised.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 14:04
- Go for it Jolly - I watched your case with interest and was thrilled when you won.
Most of the City will be behind you in this, too.
Those that aren't?
Whatever!!!Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 14:04
- Jolly went through hell and high water to fight for what he believed in and to raise awareness for others in the same crap legal system. As an ex-employee of the local newspaper, we saw Jolly regularly in our offices, and believe me he deserves more than even 100k for what he has gone though. Good luck Jolly!!!Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 13:57
- well done jolly,hope you get every penny back of the corrupt system FOR mother.
you deserve every penny.The corrupt system is why this country is in a mess no father= less education,more teenage pregnancy,more crime.judges are corrupt well done jolly.change the rules change the system.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 13:37
- andyh, plymouth - what school did you go to? It's to be avoided at all costs!Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 13:35
- Good luck Jolly. The judges and politicians need a wake up call about the negative social engineering they have exacted on children and they have no one to blame but themselves. To be satisfied with what has happened in the past is to say they were right and those of us denied access for no valid reason is an abominable misuse of power for no reason other than perhaps a vindictive ex.Report abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 13:33
- be happy with wat u got and your future with your daughter. if you carry on fighting for the money u say u lost then you will spend more time doing that than with your daughter, you wasnt made to give up work, you chose to, it will over take your life again. i am very pleased for you as it took me 7 years of fighting to see my kids through the court and i worked right through it. i paid all my own costs as i belive that you cant put a price on your kids. i done the supervised visits, contact centers so i now wat u went through so dont let money over shaddow your reward. good luck for the futureReport abusecommented on 16-Oct-2009 12:5