My nine years in hell while dad fought for the right to see me

May 24, 2016


Like most teenagers, Rosy Stanesby has unblinking, confident opinions on how the world should be, and fragile moments when the tears come readily.


The distinctive thing about this 17-year-old is how both are present so boldly in her character – and spring from the same source.

She was able to channel her sense of justice into a speech before an audience in Parliament, but sometimes cries herself to sleep, both because of what she says the Family Court system did to her and continues to do to other children today.

“The things that have happened to me I can never forget,” she says.

Rosy was what might popularly be called a “tug of love” child. She was two years old when her parents separated in 2000. Her father, a registered child minder, sought shared residency and care but that could not be agreed.

The courts ruled that she should see her father for two days every fortnight.

Only after nine years of countless meetings and hearings was Rosy’s care equally divided between her mum and dad.

“I could not understand why I could only see my dad for two days at a time every other weekend.”

When she was old enough to understand a little, there were still frequent tears, not all of them her own.

The nine years before she was officially allowed to split her time equally between her mum and dad were punctuated by the “fun” of seeing her dad campaign for equal access – and the trauma of him being sent to prison.

Her dad, Jolly Stanesby, is a prominent campaigner for fathers’ rights. He was a leading figure in Fathers4Justice, known for the comic book hero costumes at their high-profile protests.


“I remember thinking how funny Dad was climbing buildings,” Rosy says. Her favourite costume that of Batman’s sidekick, Robin. “I thought the ‘R’ stood for Rosy.”

In November 2008, Jolly who was found guilty of causing distress and alarm and refusing to obey a police officer after a rooftop protest at the home of the then deputy Labour leader, Harriet Harman. He was jailed for two months.

“While he was in prison he missed my 10th birthday, my piano exam and my weekends together.”

She says she felt “a bit broken” by that episode.

That added to the constant feeling that her voice was not heard and her opinions not listened to by the Family Court.

Shortly afterwards, in 2009, it was agreed that her mum and dad would have equal care and residency.

“I started to sleep better at night and I became more confident. Life was how it should have been.”

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