Family Courts

Resolving disputes via the Family Courts – fact or fiction?                  

battling parents

Is it realistic for parents to expect our judicial system to offer meaningful help and support for families experiencing the distress of divorce/separation? Particularly those parents who demonstrate a history of bitter disputes and patterns of obstructive behaviour?

All too often separating parents fail to recognise and appreciate that in bringing family matters before the Courts, they are, in essence, relinquishing ‘control’ of their family’s future and reducing their capacity to resolve their own issues. By handing over their parental ‘power’ to a judicial system that is combative in style, the risk is that the very nature of the court process will only serve to aggravate, and often escalate, the conflict between them.

It is not surprising then that Courts cannot always be expected to come to the rescue of a family who are shipwrecked on an ‘emotional sea’. Judges are often required to make monumental decisions for families, sometimes having only met both parents briefly and in most cases, never even having met the children.

How then can judges be expected to satisfy the detailed requirements of a family whose lives they have little or  no knowledge of?  The impossible position of the Court creates a “nobody wins” atmosphere, which, in turn, does little to encourage positive & effective co-parenting and can possibly only generate more resentment.

In an attempt to discredit each other as parents, ex-partners often ‘paint’ an entirely disapproving, negative and harmful profile of one other. This kind of damaging ‘tactic’ usually only serves to encourage further suspicion and mistrust. It’s a destructive approach to dealing with an already very fragile system that can only be likened to taking a sledgehammer to an already shattered glass flower.

fragile flower

So how can this create a positive basis on which to build a future co-parenting model when parents, who are already emotionally raw from the break-up, end up thrashing it out through the Courts?

Whilst it is both recommended and essential to fully understand your rights and entitlements from a legal perspective, parents should bear in mind that solicitors fight solely for their clients. In this respect any legal advice received does not necessarily take the needs of the whole family into account.

For this reason it’s important to think carefully before entering a system that can create further resentment, leaving you mentally exhausted, financially depleted and emotionally battered.

The Courts can be very effective but cannot be the ‘fixer’ of all problems. Family situations and dynamics vary so greatly these days and everyone’s situation is unique. By diminishing your own decision-making capacity as parents and blaming each other, you could find yourself unpleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Read: A Day in the Life of a Family Court Judge

Question to QC: “If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be?”      

QC’s Answer: “Introduce early therapeutic intervention for parents who are involved with CYPS in the pre-proceedings stage.”