During family breakdown, listening to the voice of the
children caught between conflicting parents is the best way to
allay the emotional pain of family disputes, writes
Taking into account the welfare, wishes and feelings of children
in a family dispute is an enshrined legal principle, but - without
the concerted effort of parents to prioritise their children over
their difficulties with one another - the law can only do so much.
Despite attempts to keep pace with changes in society, the family
justice system has become clogged with enormous backlogs of cases
involving child welfare issues.
It is my belief, reinforced through 30 years of practicing
family law, that children's voices are not heard soon enough,
if at all, during family breakdown. By addressing this issue, I
believe we can relieve the strain on the overstretched and
under-resourced Family Justice System, and establish a better way
forward for all involved.
Experience has taught me that only through listening to children
can we begin to develop a long term mechanism to ensure their
protection during and following parental separation. Too many
times, I have seen parents so consumed by the animosity they feel
towards each other that they forget to prioritise the most
important and treasured output of their relationship: their
children. Sadly, it's not uncommon for children to be used as
weapons, asked to collect information on one of their parents, or
be placed in situations where they feel they need to lie. Often,
angry parents who are trying to punish each other end up punishing
There is no question that Mr and Mrs Owens are both unhappy with their current position, and the Court of Appeal judges were equally unhappy with the current legal position. The question is what should be done.
A well-meaning friend, relative or even a carer of a deceased person may take what they believe are helpful steps to tidy up a deceased’s affairs in the days following their death to pave the way for those who will carry out the administration of the estate.
The law in relation to the treatment of non-matrimonial assets in the English Family Courts continues to evolve and JL v SL ( EWHC 360) is the latest to join the alphabet of cases dealing with this issue.
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