SAME LESSONS NOT BEING LEARNED

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When one considers the depth and thoroughness of the judgement in the recent case of D (A child: parental alienation) [2018] EWFC B64, comentary does seem to have been somewhat thin on the ground. Nonetheless, barrister June Venters QC, who represented the father in this case, appears to have addressed the silence with a well wrtten article in the Law Gazette.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice-points/parental-alienation/5068556.article?fbclid=IwAR1V65a2uXUdoDxKo_ITriWXtnEhWcp7UmoC15GFroN-MiAcLwCj6al_Pqc#.XAaIawLRoIU.facebook

The article is required reading for anyone anywhere near the court process at the present time. Given the widespread antipathy towards pa in the system it is highly likely that your case may well chime with some of the issues raised in this case. Disappointingly, ‘D’ raises the same old chestnuts. Theses have all appeared in other cases recently: so much so that it sometimes looks like Cafcass and the courts have their fingers in their ears. It does seem that there is a significant body of determined practitioners in our midst who are determined that children should not be safeguarded from the emotional abuse and the harmful effects of parental alienation

  • Failure of social workers (and others) to acquaint themselves with the historical evidence of the case;
  • A lack of significant experience, expertise or training in the field of parental alienation;
  • A failure to be “open minded” when receiving a child’s disclosures;
  • Faiilure to ASCERTAIN a childs’ wishes and feelings;
  • A failure to see the child with each parent;
  • Straying outside field of expertise;.
  • Forming views despite a lack of evidence.

To conclude her article, June Venters called for a culture change amonst those working in the sphere of family law. Clearly, training, understanding and awareness is not up to scratch and the long term affects of pa are poorly understood.

She said, ‘My experience of cases involving parental alienation, highlighted by this case is that there needs to be a culture change among all those who work in the field of family law. There needs to be a greater understanding of what it involves and how it manifests itself. Currently it would seem there is little or no training on the subject and thus it is hardly surprising there is such little understanding. There also needs to be an awareness of how this is likely to adversely impact on a child and their adult life and in particular their own relationships and mental health, if unresolved and untreated.’

What is clear is that practitioners are more keen to conceal years of inactivity and antipathy instead of safeguarding children. It is important to put things right NOW. Even if pa is rarer than we think

Naap Hope4i

Owing to the non-impact out there to the suicide rate connected to Family courts, I thought this short documentary could help some people. This was not pre-planned, we did this off the cuff in one take with a father that wished to stay anonymous but wanted to get his story out to help people in the same position he was. Please watch and share it everywhere. You are not alone.

ON/OFF: Split thinking in parental alienation

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At the bottom of this thread is a link to another fabulous article from Karen Woodall who sheds light upon how splitting occurs in parental alienation and how it affects alienated parents in particular.

‘One of the biggest problems in coping with being rejected by your children is the manner in which you are forced into a mirroring of the good/bad splitting which is going on in your child’s mind.  The good/bad split is the belief that everyone is either good or bad and that the world and all experiences within it can be divided into good and bad or right and wrong.’

And;

‘What people see from the outside is someone whose child no longer wishes to see them, shouting and blaming the other parent for having caused it.  They see an angry, dis-regulated parent labelling the other as being responsible for everything that is going on.  What the child sees is a justification for their rejection of you, an entrenchment of the feeling that they were right to make that ‘choice.’

To illustrate this more fully look at this clip of Dr Steven Miller::

Amongst the many additional problems we face as alienated parents is that split thinking is part of the DNA of Cafcass. It is so deeply ingrained that I question whether retraining can work when we should be talking in terms of de-programming. A good general example is the new framework which is literally packed with binary arguments or false dichotomies. 

Typically, Cafcass propose that a subject consists of just two extremes which misses out the infinite number of possibilities between them. Our section 7 reports typically use the same logical fallacy. For instance it is common for Cafcass to claim that one cannot force’ an older child to do something. In this way they are attempting to steer the court and state the alternatives as being

1. Doing nothing or

2. Forcing.

They conveniently omit to mention that there are loads of alternative actions and behaviours between their two stated (cherry picked or pet) extremes. 

At a corporate level the section on private law in the new Cafcass operating framework begins with the now very tired proposition that, on the one hand, the vast majority of parents are fair-minded and grown up enough to sort out their own contact arrangements. Whilst, on the other hand there is a group who lose contact with their kids and can’t agree anything!! It States: 

‘5.1 Most separating or divorcing parents make their own arrangements for how they are to share care after they split up. Huge efforts are often put into making quite detailed agreements which stand the test of time, despite changing circumstances and even though communication is often difficult and painful. Another group of separating parents separate completely, with one of the parents either disappearing or losing touch with their child or children.’

Life is mostly many shades of grey. It is seldom, if ever, black or white but in the ground between. The reality is that there are so many situations between these extremes. The basic problem is masked and not understood. Therefore, the answer is unlikely to be correct.

Heroes and Villains: Avoiding the Split Narrative in the Experience of Being an Alienated Parent

 

New Speech from the president of the family division.

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Judicial Arrogance

After an incisive start, when Sir Andrew McFarlane delivered a couple of landmark speeches, he appears to have gone a little quiet. However, his latest offering confirms that he is back in business.

Many of us will have first hand experience of judicial arrogance. At a time when more and more litigants are ‘self represented’ it comes as a shock to be gaslighted by judges in exactly the same way as a coercively controlling partner would have done. The president states:

In judicial circles it is a well-known phenomenon that some lawyers, who had hitherto been entirely amiable and mild-mannered individuals, subtly develop, immediately following their appointment to the Bench, a wholly unattractive arrogance and belief in their own self-importance.

 

In his first few weeks of office he undertook to get around as many of the family courts as he could? Who better to express his empirical findings?

Glacial Courts which are a law unto themselves

He also highlights the fact that despite the fact that the need to avoid delay is also prominently embedded in the Children Act 1989 where s 1(2) states that:
“in any proceedings in which any question with respect to the upbringing of a child arises, the court shall have regard to the general principle that any delay in determining the question is likely to prejudice the welfare of the child”

Time limits were applied to public law because a parent child relationship is frequently severed in these cases. Sadly, it is not uncommon for severance, in the guise of pa, to happen in private law also. However, S1(2) seems to be ritually ignored.

When litigants and lawyers see the statute being ignored it is hardly surprising that family court orders are regarded as optional. The court sets an appalling example.

It does not matter whether you are an expert witness, social worker, lawyer, litigant in person or a parent The rest of the speech contains valuable advise and deserves to be widely read.

Speech by Lord Justice McFarlane: Bond Solon Experts Conference 2018

Many thanks to Kerry for alerting us to this.

 

Throwing open the opaque doors of the family courts

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Guidance to staff on supporting media access to courts and tribunals

 
Apart from an occasional juicy fat cat divorce the family courts do not seem to attract much press or media attention. Furthermore, apart from the Royal Courts of Justice, the glare of publicity never arrives. Consequently judges, lawyers and social workers have an arrogance and swagger that comes from years of lurking in the shadows with the impunity that brings.
 
It often surprises folk to learn that there is indeed a presumption in favour of ‘card crrying’ press access to the family courts.
 
Surely we have some reporters out there who are personnally touched by the family courts and enough so to want to start shining a light on a brand of arbitrary justice that our schools tell us was outlawed by magna carta?
 
Please get in touch if you would like to be signposted towards some truly incredible proceedings. You and your readers will not believe it!!
 
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/750526/HMCTS_Media_Guidance.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0QEG9umsh9lAl_-d3QXllTb75zK2TnEuLpuHkJazt4S-UkmQt0EvTjKKY
 
The link to Jurisdictional guidance to support media access to courts and tribunals in the Family courts is contained in the annex to this guidance.