Yesterday, I read the judgment in R (Children) [2018] EWCA Civ 198.

It is a case with many aspects to it and it deserves to be read for a number of reasons.

The reason I am writing about it here concerns the courageousness of an advocate involved. The solicitor advocate, June Venters QC, effectively admitted that she had failed to pick up various points because she had not been allowed enough time to prepare. Furthermore, for much of the preparation time, that involved wading through a huge volume of evidence, she was disadvantaged by not having anything like the assistance or resources available to the other parties in the proceedings. There had been an extension of time but this was inadequate and in no way compensated for the inequality of arms she had been presented with. It is easy to see how she would have felt brow beaten, isolated, disadvantaged and even bullied, but, nonetheless she was able to successfully appeal an earlier fact finding hearing conducted by Mrs Justice Theis.

In a recent lecture, Prof Jo Delahunty QC, in providing examples of judicial bullying, listed the following (at the end of quite a long list) :

‘– Refusing to give them time to formulate an argument or response in circumstances where it is unfair to them and their client to do so.’

Clearly, the judge’s behaviour, which we know from our members reports is by no means an isolated example, falls into the category of judicial bullying. Fortunately, for her and her client June Venters was able to stand up to it but it took an appeal and a huge amount of additional work involving complex legal issues for her to do so.

Most people cannot get legal aid or afford representation of the high calibre provided my June Venters. Furthermore, they find themselves in an intimidating and alien environment, having little time to prepare, having little time to learn new facts and skills and having to do all this whilst grieving for children they miss terribly, at the same time as fighting off symptoms of failing mental health and in most cases at the same time as doing a job to keep a roof over their heads. Where does such poor judicial, indeed bullying and inhumane, behaviour leave them?

As usual, the reported case represents the tip of an iceberg. What about the lower courts which are hidden beneath the surface and are seldom, if ever reported or scrutinised. We know these appalling behaviours are anything but unusual and it is high time they were illuminated. We also know that such behaviours are infectious and they do not only infect judges but that they appear to have cross infected other disciplines too.

What are your experiences?

Professor Jo Delahunty QC’s lecture can be seen here. It is well worth watching.

Assessing Attachment for family courts

We’ve noticed noticed a few posts about psychological reports and expert witnesses in family court. We’re writing a more detailed piece but here’s a few thoughts.

1. No psychology training in the UK currently includes PA
2. Psychologists in their training normally choose an adult or child specialism. If anyone offers both it is a bolt on
3. Therefore ask the question what specialist training they have to claim PA and family expertise
4. Most psychologists and social workers (include Cafcass in that) use an old model of attachment as attachment to the primary caregiver (read RP)
5. Most psychologists and social workers “observe” attachment behaviours and place their own interpretation on it…we’ve all seen the classic from Dr Millers 7 minute YouTube video…child is close to RP therefore secure attachment. …not very scientific is it
6. In a psychological report you may well be lucky therefore to be told…insecure or secure attachment. … as near to useless as it gets
7. If you a bit more lucky you’ll get an ABCD… anxious secure ambivalent disorganised..again useless… detail..
8. Ask about the experts expertise in case management of PA. Why? Well, it’s very cosy sitting in front of the parents and children filling out a tick sheet to diagnose, but what experience do they have in managing the treatment routes and interventions. How many therapeutic interventions have they implemented? Do they do family systems or multi-modal interventions? How many reunifications or change of residence have they managed? What modes or approaches to therapeutic work do they use? what is their evidence Base? Are they practitioners or just milking the gravy train expert witnesses? Yes think about it

Having seen ….very expensive psychological reports which basically reduce each person to their psychological parts in a completely dehumanising way offering no construct route forward to guide the court process .they are also wishy washy and like to sit on the preverbial fence.

Most alienating parents do not have a personality disorder. And even if they do they are very hard to diagnose…because guess what people lie. To read a report and then see the “faking good” scale means….well exactly that….the whole assessment could have be faked.

Read the attached file to be informed about one scientifically valid measure of attachment
1. Based on theory
2. Scientific validation
3. Blind coded to remove bias
4. 50 professional DMM coders in UK each assessment ballpark £500 to £600 per assessment
5. What do you get….a detailed assessment integrating childhood experience, thinking style (what memory systems in the brain are used) somatic and emotional regulation…the strategies being used….and in children it explains the PA reaction we see…splitting…intense displays of anger. …ambivalence. .coercive strategies to get their needs met I. E. The counterintuitive nature

The ABCD is expanded to 12 categories…with combinatuons. It covers maladaptive attachment behaviours. ..I see all the alienating behaviours in it….it specifically explains child rearing protective strategies …cognitive distortions. …emotional decision making. ….family patterns and unresolved trauma….false cognitions …trauma reenactment . It is measured and it’s about the relationships BETWEEN family members so it’s a dynamic relational picture. It maps directly into an informed family intervention plan with the detail. It covers normal attachment behaviours across to psychopathology. The interview is video and audio recorded with open questions that can not be a yes or not or scaled manipulated answer

The attached link details that 20% of expert witnesses are not qualified.

We’ll be writing more to explain… an informed consumer and careful who you trust with your family case” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>

Introducing NAAP Co-founder- Linda Turner

A long time alienated mother, Linda has been a core contributor through her blog Uriel Clough. Linda’s long-standing contribution makes her a veteran of the parental alienation community.None of us at NAAP have met Linda as she lives in France. That speaks volumes, as distance has been no barrier in bringing NAAP to life.

Introducing NAAP Co-founder Liz Archer

Parental alienation can happen to anyone, and that includes me. As an alienated parentI discoveredagreat community, knowledge and support in the onlinegroups.Part of the healing journey has been to help and support othersand to give back.A random cup of coffee with Andrew John Teague that lasted three hours has ended up with the formation of NAAP and a collaborative team of likemindedsouls.Read More »