On the power of parenting co-ordination to resolve intractable cases

This morning I have been reading Sir James Munby’s advice to parents in the the case of Re H-B (contact) and thinking about how, in such cases, small actions in the midst of highly charged emotional situations, can lead to devastating consequences for children and parents alike.  In this case, the action of the father’s new wife, in pushing and bruising one of his children, has lead to him not seeing his children at all and his children maintaining an entrenched and refusing position.  In the Appeal Decision, this small but significant act is set out, alongside the usual bewildering array of expert reports, views from CAFCASS, efforts of the Judge in the case and the contributions of the parents.  Sir James however, in making concluding remarks, puts all of the responsibility for the loss of the relationship between father and children upon the mother and father themselves. He also speaks of being haunted by the thought that in time to come, when the children become aware of the reality of what happened, they will lose not one but both of their parents. Sadly I have to concur with his concern, this is the risk for far too many children in these circumstances, but does it have to be this way?

From where I am looking no it does not. These cases, which are worrying as well as vexing, do not have to dragged out for years and years and they do not have to be configured in such a way that the children are burdened with the responsibility for fighting their parent through court. The fact that they are, highlights for me, not the intractable nature of the case or the contribution of the parents, but the nature of the family court process and the gross lack of family court services that could support a well structured process.

The way in which the parents (who are already emotionally distressed and highly litigious as a result), interact with the family courts is well documented.  The court, which offers a cool, calm and collected approach to dealing with family separation, requires parents who are emotionally dysregulated as well as often discombobulated to present themselves in such a way that objective judgments can be made about events which are often wholly or largely subjective.  For many parents this is simply an impossible ask, which means that however much calm they manage to achieve inside the court, outside of it they are simply driven to act out what is really going on.

And what is most often really going on is that the normal human emotions of anger, jealousy, possessiveness and despair, are driving people who in every other way cope normally with their lives, into situations where they are simply unable to prevent themselves from behaving badly.  Family separation is a hugely pressured time in people’s lives, breaking up a relationship, repartnering, trying to cope with children’s reactions whilst making sure they see both sides of the family can turn some parents into appearing to be raving lunatics.  Whilst in the midst of this the children, who are just as badly affected, are given supreme amounts of power as increasingly in our society we turn to them for decisions about what should happen in their lives after separation.  And it is no different in court.

Sir James, in his comments in this Appeal Decision says that parents have the responsibility for making their children do what they do not want to do and charges these parents wholly with not having achieved that.  Given that the prevailing culture within CAFCASS today is that children’s wishes and feelings come first, I think that the court carries some of the responsibility for not helping the children to understand that adults and not children are the people who make the decisions about their wellbeing. Reading about the number of people involved, including therapists and expert witnesses as well as CAFCASS officers and the fact that the children were instructing their own solicitors, I cannot help but think that it is not just the parents who have failed to make these children do what they are told.

The whole family court process seems to me to be set up in ways that cannot help but risk failing separating families who are, after all, just ordinary families going through a difficult time.  For sure there will be a small group of highly intractable cases which are about very difficult or dysfunctional parents, but too many of the families who go through the courts and end up mired in conflict and lack of clarity do so because of the court process, not because of anything they have done or are doing.

In America, where in some states a much more progressive approach to managing families going through separation exists, Parenting Co-ordination is one way of resolving those cases which are potentially intractable.  In those court rooms the Judge is the inquisitor, who makes very early findings about disputed facts and then discharges the family into the hands of the Parenting Co-ordinator with an expectation of what should happen. It is then for the Parenting Co-ordinator, a cross between a therapist and mediator, who manages parenting arrangements throughout a defined period of time. Even those very difficult cases, where allegations of domestic violence or sexual abuse are made are not allowed to drift, with criminal proceedings heard within a very short period of time and the case returned to the family court for parenting arrangements to be made.  This robust and absolutely child focused approach to managing family separation seems to be to be a wholly more appropriate way of supporting these families through the emotional chaos that erupts around separation. Short circuiting the endless rounds of professionals reporting on the  ‘he said/she said’ situation and cutting right through the win/lose approach which so badly serves families.

Sir James is absolutely right when he says that cases like this are haunting. They are. Not only do they haunt those of us who work in the family court system, they haunt the next generations. For when these girls become mothers, their internalised understanding of what mothering and fathering is will be fractured and broken. Which does not bode well for the children they will struggle to bring up in a settled parenting relationship.

Family separation is an emotional and psychologically distressing experience and parents need much more than stern words and blame to help them get through it. Parenting Co-ordination is one way of helping, there are many others. Perhaps Sir James might welcome the solution to the problems he very clearly identifies.

26 comments

  1. Jo Saunders · April 23, 2015

    Yes, I am looking forward to meeting you and the other ladies too. Thank you for your initial thoughts and support.

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  2. CG · April 23, 2015

    I’ve not yet read the full report of this case so I accept I don’t know the full facts – but what I would say is that if every parent who ever pushed a child, as a result of a single act of loss of composure and bad behaviour on the part of the parent, then had their contact with that child removed we would have a nation of children in care.
    In my own experience we documented how the ‘resident parent’ slapped the child, undoubtedly as a direct result of him expressing joy and happiness having just a couple of hours previously returned from a few days trip away with his ‘non resident parent’. The child in that instance went from saying he did nothing wrong, to saying it was all his fault as he’d been very very naughty and deserved it.

    We know, all of us on this site, how small acts can be exploited beyond belief to the benefit of ‘resident’ parents. And small incidents, which are just part of the rough and tumble of ordinary family life, are blown up to the extent that they take on wholly out of proportion importance.

    I’m saddened that this report included attributing the blame for this sorry situation to the new wife. What fodder for step-parent haters.

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  3. Nearlybel · April 23, 2015

    Hi Karen, I read the full judgement of this and I can assure you that father is an abuser.
    Look at his patterns of behaviour.
    And then look at the judges comments how he minimised, nearly excusing it as ‘ insensitive and unwise’ everything the father did. The judge told the mother she was exaggerating and he didn’t believe her, but the facts were in front of him. What must be examined is the intent of those words and actions of the father.
    Abusers manipulate a seemingly innocent and happy event into a chaotic and confusing one by a word a look or an action, making the target look ‘abnormal’ by their reaction. While all around wonder why, and he is sitting back enjoying the ‘drama’ he caused.
    When one ‘escapes’ the abuser, their mask comes off and their mean and callous character reveals itself whenever the opportunity arises.
    Indirect access for his 2 girls, postcards are written ‘see you soon’
    No comment on what he’s been doing, how he’s been ‘living’ his life or how he misses them. The 2 girls don’t want to see him, they know what he is, so he writes the words to frighten and cause hurt to them
    ‘See you soon’
    How he divides the 2, there will always be a favourite, one to shower ‘good’ things on, and there will always be one to target to meet his pervert needs.
    Causing such guilt and misery to both if not at the present time then later in adulthood unless he is recognised for exactly what he is.
    He wouldn’t sign the passport forms, of course not, they are going on holidays, something enjoyable, something fun, he doesn’t want them doing that and so he hinders them by not signing.
    And then he steals the money, the children’s money, the mother has saved the child benefit each month for the girls and he takes it, clears out the account for his own use.
    He blocks the mothers car, he then proceeds to follow her, he was going the other way, why did he do that if not to frighten and threaten her.
    He is a very dangerous character, they will do everything to get back at the object of their desire.
    And he looks so normal, he gets you to believe what he wants you to believe, and that can be a most obvious untruth, but you will see it as true, eventually. Their words are all lies, do their words and their actions add up? Beware, they should have a government health warning attached to them, such is the misery they cause.

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    • karenwoodall · April 23, 2015

      I am letting this comment on Nearlybel but if you start the same kind of feminist agitation again that you were trying before I will not let any further comments through. How you view this is not how i view it. You read the commentary to find the things that uphold your belief that men are abusers, I read it to understand what has happened and how things could be done differently.

      your assertions are simply that, assertions. How do you know what facts the judge was basing his judgement on, you were not sitting in the courtroom were you? Just as you analyse the father to be the abuser in this case I could do exactly the same and analyse the mother. In fact I could analyse your comment and convince the world you are an abusive person based on the assertions you make on no evidence at all.

      You are welcome to post useful comments on here, comments which are based in reality and evidence not assertion and comments which are based on more than your own personal standpoint belief system. Anything else is not welcome and will not get through I’m afraid.

      This father’s object of desire was his relationship with his daughters not harrassing their mother though some of what he did was, as the judge stated, ill advised. Contrary to the popular women’s rights belief system, it is not always all about the woman, much of the time dads would like a relationship with their kids that has got nothing whatsoever to do with their mothers and their behaviours are about that NOT about pursuing the mother. The problem with women’s rights arguments is that they are all centred around poor little woman and savage horrible bloke and the whole analysis works to keep that image in place. It is erroneous and has no place here or in the family courts where the world is not so neatly divided into good mums and bad dads as you appear to think it is.

      You have had your warning.

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      • Flynn · April 23, 2015

        Karen-

        Parental alienation is unfortunately the only term we have to discuss this very real form of Child Abuse and Abuse via Proxy. The boundaries placed on the entitled abuser speaks to your experience and ability to implement therapeutic skills. As a medical professional I have a great deal of experience treating victims of abuse and have witnessed major shifts over the years, I’m not an expert and open to learning.

        Thank you

        Abuse / Domestic Violence – Gender related

        1)Black & Blue: “I fell down the stairs” is not something that would save my father in our modern times but worked back in the day.

        2)Black & White: “2 girls don’t want to see him” – this is a good examples of the type of abuse that is accepted in our society and something much harder to detect.

        For the children:

        “pervert,enjoying the ‘drama’ he caused, 2 girls don’t want to see him, they know what he is, recognised for exactly what he is,wouldn’t sign the passport forms,very dangerous character,so he writes the words to frighten and cause hurt to them ‘see you soon’frighten and threaten her., their mask comes off and their mean and callous character reveals itself”

        2) If society took Child Abuse seriously we would expect the mother who perpetuates such vile claims be investigated. If the mother is actively molesting the minds of the children for any reason she needs immediate attention from the legal authorities.

        One on the hallmark signs of a largely based female personality disorder is view of the world from a Black and White perspective. These children are at a very high risk of growing up with a psychopathology that will harm themselves and others.

        Altering the definition of child abuse and the involvement of agencies leads to many misconceptions of child abuse. As we advance towards eliminating one type of abuse we open the door for a different type of “opportunists” who will in turn stop at nothing to have their masks removed.

        Nature Abhors a Vacuum

        karenwoodall says:
        23/04/2015 at 3:02 pm
        I am letting this comment on Nearlybel but if you start the same kind of feminist agitation again that you were trying before I will not let any further comments through. How you view this is not how i view it. You read the commentary to find the things that uphold your belief that men are abusers, I read it to understand what has happened and how things could be done differently.

        your assertions are simply that, assertions. How do you know what facts the judge was basing his judgement on, you were not sitting in the courtroom were you? Just as you analyse the father to be the abuser in this case I could do exactly the same and analyse the mother. In fact I could analyse your comment and convince the world you are an abusive person based on the assertions you make on no evidence at all.

        You are welcome to post useful comments on here, comments which are based in reality and evidence not assertion and comments which are based on more than your own personal standpoint belief system. Anything else is not welcome and will not get through I’m afraid.

        This father’s object of desire was his relationship with his daughters not harrassing their mother though some of what he did was, as the judge stated, ill advised. Contrary to the popular women’s rights belief system, it is not always all about the woman, much of the time dads would like a relationship with their kids that has got nothing whatsoever to do with their mothers and their behaviours are about that NOT about pursuing the mother. The problem with women’s rights arguments is that they are all centred around poor little woman and savage horrible bloke and the whole analysis works to keep that image in place. It is erroneous and has no place here or in the family courts where the world is not so neatly divided into good mums and bad dads as you appear to think it is.

        You have had your warning.

        Reply

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      • karenwoodall · April 24, 2015

        One on the hallmark signs of a largely based female personality disorder is view of the world from a Black and White perspective – Borderline Personality Disorder

        Is preventing a child from having a relationship with a good enough parent child abuse? Yes it is.

        Is it recognised? – No.

        Why not? – because of the work done by women’s rights groups to demonise fathers – women must be believed without question – we see abuse where there isn’t any such thing because of the way in which we analyse the world – women as oppressed by men = women’s needs must always come first, all actions by men must be analysed through the lens of his desire to abuse her and the way in which any man who does not live by the ideal imposed upon him by women’s right groups is seen as deficient.

        Real world – it is not as black and white as that and normal people fight and argue and behave badly.

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      • Paul D Manning · May 27, 2015

        You are so right Karen, far too many people think they have the true handle on a given case, a thing I know you don’t do yourself. The unwise and gullible just judge from a knee jerk reaction not knowing the whole story, but going from a gut feeling, usually gained from reading words on a screen on some social network site. Is that anyway to know the facts of anyone’s life? Before making any judgements about anyone MAKE SURE you know ALL the facts, and even then one could be wrong entirely about someone (Please contact me Karen, I have left you a phone message!) All the best, and respects for all the good you do Karen.

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  4. Kat · April 23, 2015

    What a total mess. It is a scandal that cases are allowed to drag on like that for years and years getting more and more entrenched. A robust handling of the case through parenting co-ordination and those girls would probably have been back in contact with their dad in the autumn of 2008 and the pushing incidence would have been long forgotten by now.

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  5. daveyone1 · April 23, 2015

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

    Like

  6. Darryl · April 23, 2015

    Dear Karen,

    I only wish a semblance of this judgement presided over my own case. As you know, I have a child who “would rather kill himself” than see his dad, or his two baby siblings. This after 11 years of stable (ish) contact that was terminated by the mother( though later rubber stamped by the court) after I had the audacity to move into the same county as her on an attempt to see my son an extra day a fortnight.

    All Cafcass did was listen to the “wishes and feelings” of my son, a 12 year old who had been given the following ultimatum by his mother: “if you see him again, you can forget seeing me ever again.”

    The boy made the only choice he could do to preserve his sanity.

    I will see him again one day, when the nonsense has been seen for what it is.

    What will remain of ‘us’ I don’t know. But I do know that if the court system had acted in ‘the best interests of the child’ it wouldn’t have demanded the child make the impossible decision to slice off one half of himself to save the other.

    This practise, along with other forms of mutilation, belongs in the dustbin of history, not anywhere near a court tasked with helping children and families through the nightmare of family separation.

    And Cafcass? Contemt is not the word.

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    • The Devil's Advocate · September 8, 2015

      Having heard my clients as a Samaritan state exactly what has happened to you, I have as a professional to bite my tongue. But as always give them professional advice of what would they want to happen. Their response is lamentable….”what can I do”. This is what William Wilberforce did not accept about slavery.
      Why are we a land of masochists? There is only one thing to do. Stop bleating and change the legal situation. Get society to change…Look at the situation with the refugees from Syria as I write: a government u-turn. The same with responsible parity of parenting. Yes a real responsible parity not the half winded aggressive members of our society who destroyed shared parenting Children and Family Act (2014 Private Law) of last year which was annihilated too by the then support of the NSPCC which ironically only now, and having its arm twisted to accept domestic violence in five forms up from the previous one.
      The need for such enaction is now; the irrefutable evidence is present; PA is an abuse the only way to end it is to change the law. Voluntary codes such as the Strasbourg Accord work well in a game of cricket but not for a mature democracy; equality or nothing!

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  7. Nearlybel · April 23, 2015

    Hey Karen,

    Just a quick response to points ye raised.
    What I say is my opinion, that is all, if you wish to call it feminist agitation, that’s OK, I never thought of it as that, and am kind of flattered but I’m not sure if that is your intent because your words sound quite cross 🙂
    I read the full judgement of the case you commented on, and came to my opinion that in this case the father was an abuser.
    You are correct, I wasn’t in the courtroom but
    I read through the facts as presented in the judgement,
    I examined the language used by both parties and
    The comments of the Judges, and expert witnesses.
    I used my expertise in the modus operandi of these characters
    And posted my comment.
    That is all.
    And what would your analysis be on the fathers behaviour in
    1) refusing to sign passport forms.
    2) stealing his daughters money.
    3) blocking and following the mothers car.
    Why would any ‘normal’ person, do any never mind all 3 of the above?
    And just as a last point, these characters, no matter whether male or female cannot and are not in a ‘relationship’ as we understand the meaning of the word. It is quite literally ‘the object of their desire’ and they go to any lengths to acquire ‘it’. Really scary.
    And Kat, yes it is a total mess, with family’s being tied up in the courts instead of living the lives they choose. You will find in the majority of cases there is one abusing the system, in keeping with their behaviour within the marriage/partnership.
    And Karen the work you do is so difficult, you are at the frontline all best wishes there.

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    • karenwoodall · April 24, 2015

      I might sound cross Nearlybel and if you are flattered by my labelling of your way of looking at things as feminist agitation pleases you, then my instinct is right and my crossness emerges from understanding how you view things and not really wanting that kind of thing on here, which is a safe place away from the brainwashed standpoint positioning of women’s rights which skews everything to fit their belief system.

      My analysis of this case is that the mother and father both behaved badly that the reasons for 1,2,3 are all within normal range of behaviours in these situations and that these people are in a relationship to each other be it a negative one, which is the case for so many separated parents for many years after their ‘separation.’ This is not about one abusive person versus another non abusive one. These cases rarely are. I think the Judge got it right myself apart from blaming the parents and not seeing the problems in the system that cause the haunting he is concerned about.

      If you can see the nuances in the situation you are welcome to post your thoughts but black and white thinking as a knee jerk reaction isn’t welcome here, too many of my readers face black and white thinking on a daily basis, it is damaging to them and their children.

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      • Mirror · April 24, 2015

        I think the Judge got it right myself apart from blaming the parents and not seeing the problems in the system that cause the haunting he is concerned about.

        – very accurate to say this, but i do sometimes think that the judges are just pretending to be concerned. they continue to be part of the problem, not the solution. they need to blame the parents as much as they can, and need to find fault with them, so that nobody sees the fault with the system.

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      • Everythinghappensforareason · November 2, 2015

        Mirror – extremely inciteful ccomment about the need to blame the parents rather than provide workable solution. Treating as many cases as possible as “hybrid PA” is an efficient use of the judges time……..if you’re disinterested in the long-term adverse consequences for the child(ren)

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    • Flynn · April 24, 2015

      “if you wish to call it feminist agitation, that’s OK”

      1) What is NOT “OK” is a “parent” who severely abuses a child. Cross words are insufficient to address such predators. Exposing and ensuring the courts adapt to put an end to the exploitation should be the primary goal of anyone devoted to the best interest of the children.

      2) Feminism, another “ism” that has noble connotations that distract from the topic of child abuse. Good parents who love their children irrespective of gender are something that requires elevation in our society.

      To those parents who suffer to bring about positive change in the face of such difficulties I thank you for your inspiration as we must go on.

      Thank you,

      Flynn

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  8. yahnalablog · April 23, 2015

    Kat, sadly so many of these family contact disputes go on and on for years. As a Grandfather you worry how all the stress and unpleasantness impacts on your Son and Grandchild. Compared to some other Parents and Grandparents my Family are just novices. It is coming up to four years since we have had contact with our wee darling, yes it is cruel, stressful but when contact happens it will be so uplifting and that what keeps you going. I have corresponded with some wonderful Fathers who have not seen their Children for ten years or more. I have the greatest respect for these Fathers and any Mothers who can take the worst horrible experience in their stride.

    Two Fathers who recently assisted me to lose my bitterness and come to terms with all the baggage that comes from being Alienated from a love one have not seen their Children for many years and are now adults. I try to support other Family members particularly my Son who is so desperate to see his Daughter. Sometimes I felt that the Court appearances (49) and dealing with Social Work was as painful as my grand child’s absence. At long last I am calm and I assure everyone we will be able to cuddle our wee darling one day.

    I am sure my Son has more pain than I but it is a different relationship you have with a Grandchild than with your own Children. My otherSon has recently become a Dad of a beautiful girl. My task is to bring the two girls together one day, and introduce them to each other as Cousins. I apologise if my writing bores anyone but it is a coping mechanism now for me and I assure you it works.

    I intend to write a book one day and the title will be “Cheerio Dady” the title is not because of the Child’s absence it is because my Son had to endure a short prison sentence for being set up by his estranged wife and her boyfriend. I visited my Son six days a week whilst he was in prison, when I was asked to leave it was so upsetting for the young Children saying goodby to their Daddy. They said cheerio Daddy, that broke my heart. It was a struggle during this two month period but to my Sons credit he got through it, it is behind us now.

    It is best I do not say all the bad things that happened to my Family, we told the truth but still have to fight to be believed. I know for a fact that the authorities now believe we were telling the truth but are in denial protecting their own careers. I have over eighty complaints which have been with the ombudsman office for 18 months regarding my Local Council and their Social Work Department. I have worked tirelessly to expose the Social Work failures and have had some practices changed and improved, I intend to have many more improvements made when the Ombudsman makes his judgement soon. Mind you we had to fight tooth and nail and I will never stop fighting until we have contact with my Grandchild. You would not believe me the lengths that we have had to go, I produced over two hundred pages of complaints to the Council’s Social Works Complaints Review Committee. Unbelievably but not surprisingly the Council failed to have all their reports available to the Committee, this is also part of my complaints to the Ombudsman. Our case is far from being unique, as far as I can see it tends to be the norm.

    I worked in Local Goverment and the watch word was”mind your back” you get very little support from senior management. Most Social Work departments are under resourced, morale does not exist and there is very poor management support. I found it difficult to be too sympathetic towards Social Workers as some lie just to cover there own failures. I managed to have all Social Workers put on a refresher report writing course as their reports and minute taking was so very poor and in some cases erroneous.

    You do not go to Court as many times as My Son and me without learning a thing or two. I have met many young Parents who in my opinion are cannon fodder to the legal system. I advise them to research to find a specialist Solicitor in Family Law, to ensure they challenge all Social Work reports and minutes if they are erroneous. These reports can be used by the other Solicitor and the last thing you want for your Partner to show your Children when they are older reports that put you in a bad light. In my Sons case my Granddaughter would have read reports that made her Father seem a monster. I was reported badly by an individual who was incapable of writing an accurate report, like Social Work she failed to state it was an alleged allegation only resulting that the report read as fact. I was refused contact with my Grandchild because of sheer incompetence of an NHS employee, for which I am fighting the NHS.

    I don’t have the answers how we have a level playing field for Father and Mothers as so many Fathers are seen as not to be trusted and all Mothers tell the truth. Unfortunately we have now went down the road of gender issues, which does not help the Children. In my Sons case his Daughter has been left to be mentally abused everyday as the authorities think they must protect the Mother, no they are damaging the Child.

    As many people now reading Karen’s blog recognise that where Parental Alienation has entered the Family what you see is not what is actually happening in the midst of the Family unit. I could not believe at first the degree of finite detail my Granddaughter stated that I entered the flat and shouted and abused her Mother. The Child was not at School at this time nevertheless I was shocked how vividly she could recall this situation that I assure you never happened. The allegations came so fast and all were investigated by the Police, it was very stressful and hard to believe my Granddaughter could say such things about my Son and me. We were never found guilty other than my Sons original charge for which I once again assure you he was inocent.

    A friend who worked with a woman’s agency told me that the allegations would get absolutely ridiculous and she was correct indeed. So much so and to my annoyance Social Work remained in denial and the allegations were so feeble but yet they were prepared to ignore us and prepared to leave the Child to be abused. The Child was removed with her Mother to another County and Social Work there was no different and never put the Child first before the Mother.

    I appreciate it is difficult to understand why the years go by without common sense prevailing. The pressure these cases have on the NHS, Social Work and the Justice System budgets is massive and this money would be far better spent on Family intervention and prevention. I am sorry to say Governments in the UK have got to wake up and smell the misery to Children and Families.

    It is my opinion the best way forward in cases involving disputed Child Contact is to train more specialists in identifying if one Parent is Alienating the other Parent by manipulating the Children to alienate the other Parent. That is my opinion, but surely by speeding up the process benefits the Child whose welfare must be the priority. The establishment to allow these cases go on and on for years is an abysmal failure of our society.

    Please never give up on the inocent Children, as one famous QC advised me, “fight, keep fighting and never stop fighting. I wish everyone good fortune and let’s hope for the benefit for all that the correct decisions in Child Contact Disputes can be decided in months and not years.

    By the way I ment to advise that I am attending a local Hustings next week and I am doing all I can to have the Panel answer a question about Parental Alienation, please try and put questions to your MP.

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    • karenwoodall · April 24, 2015

      Keep fighting and never stop fighting…it is good advice indeed.

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    • Kat · April 26, 2015

      Keep fighting and keep writing if it helps. It has help me too to write. The scandal is that this case is far from unusual and so many, many fathers and mothers would benefit from early intervention. I remember reading a review of the way these kinds of cases are resolved in another European country. The review pointed out how problematic it is that some cases take a long time (most cases there were resolved in 6-12 months, with some taking a bit longer). I almost laughed knowing how long it takes to get through the court system here with a difficult case. To me it seems obvious that any case where a child refuses to see a parent should be investigated urgently, to establish the reasons why, yet it is not happening.

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  9. Flynn · April 23, 2015

    Parenting Co-ordination Is a wonderful idea That my X has fought in court yet this is something I will raise in hopes that I can help my children. When parents are shoved out yet share duel legal guardianship they are not only morally obligated but legally obligated to see for the welfare of their children.

    Thank you,

    Like

  10. Anonymous · April 24, 2015

    Nearlybel.

    The children have a fundamental need for a relationship with both parents and the parents have a need to nurture positive and supporting relationships with their children. (That’s whether the parents are still together or are now living apart).

    I am a Dad and when my former partner was making it difficult to see my children I would go down the park and see if I could catch a glimpse of them or even talk to them.

    That does not make me a pervert.

    But my own daughter called me a “stalker” because that is what their mother allegedly told them I was.

    This man may or may not be guilty of miss-deeds, but so might the mother. This is not the point. What needs to happen in this case (as in all cases) is a mending of relationships. If you read Karen’s work I hope you get the same feeling as I do.

    The World is not split up into good people and bad people. It is simply made up of people who in any given circumstances will behave in different ways.

    Hope this helps

    Kind regards

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  11. padrestevie · April 24, 2015

    Before commenting upon the facts of this judgment I think there is a highly significant point that we should acknowledge. That is, it is only since Sir James Munby imposed his transparency reforms that judgments like this find their way into the public domain on a regular basis. He also appears to be using these judgments to refer to and publicise other, not so well known, judgments that were made before his reforms. We can now ask informed questions such as, how can bodies like CAFCASS possibly continue to pretend that alienation does not exist when there is an ever growing body of reliable primary evidence in the form of case law which proves the contrary?

    I have to agree that the two teenage girls in this case have been failed. The whole sorry affair began in 2008. There can be no argument from any rationally minded person that both the parents could have behaved better. But, yet again some of the blame must rest with the court for failing to ensure that its orders were complied with. People ignore them simply because they can and a severe bollocking now and then is not going to make the slightest bit of difference. Parents can, do and will continue to behave horribly under such emotionally charged circumstances. The collective judicial hand wringing is not good enough. The court had the means to enforce its orders but chose not to use them. The court had the opportunity to broker contact far earlier. Instead it pandered to a coercively controlling and manipulative mother. What an appalling role model the court has been to the two girls i.e. if you don’t like authority just cock two fingers at it because they will not do anything apart from give you an angry dressing down which you can laugh off afterwards.

    Sir James has expanded upon the definition of parental responsibility in this judgment. His comments will be useful. Contrasting contact with a dad and other accepted parental responsibilities he asks, “Why should we expect any less of a parent whose rebellious teenage child is refusing to see her father?” Quite simply,

    • anyone that fails to ensure that their children do not treat their other parent with respect and acts as a poor role model in this regard is failing their kids;
    • anyone that does not actively support their children’s human right to enjoy a relationship with the other parent is also failing their kids;

    To conclude, any system that can sit on its hands until these girls decide to ask their own questions, in the full knowledge that it could have done much more, is not being open or honest with itself. Courts should not be content to admit failure when they have not used all of the alternatives available to them.

    Like

  12. ConcernedParent · April 25, 2015

    The comments in regards to parenting coordination in the US vs here are spot on. Our family breakdown was in the US and what Karen descibed was exactly what happened. Not only that, early intervention by psychologists discarded my ex’s false allegations as fantasies. The children were guaranteed to see both of us. Coming back to England 6 years of High Court drama ensued giving the mother the tools and support to abuse my now totally alienated children. No enforcement of orders such as therapeutic support, shared residence and schooling. The children very unstable emotionally, physically and educationally.
    All completely preventable. Tragic.

    Like

  13. Nearlybel · April 27, 2015

    Hey Karen,

    How can you say 1,2,3 are ‘normal range behaviours in this situation’
    That behaviour is intolerable in any situation,
    1) refusing to sign the children’s passport forms?
    2) Stealing from the children?
    3) Dangerous driving?
    In any other situation 2 and 3 would be criminal offences. And 1 is totally hindering the lives of his children, which is his intention.

    And what did the mother do in this case for you to say
    ‘the mother and father both behaved badly’

    ‘These people are in a relationship to each other be it a negative one’
    What does that sentence mean?
    Maybe you could point out the nuances that you seem to think I missed.
    And Flynn, in what area are you a medical professional?

    Like

    • karenwoodall · April 28, 2015

      Nearlybel, I nearly didn’t let this through because I am unhappy with your tone towards Flynn. This is a safe place for alienated parents it is not a forum for feminist agitation.

      Your interpretation of 1,2,3 is not mine. You make assertions which are just that assertions and I do not agree with you.

      You are posting from your own personal experience, you are applying that and your feminist lens to the issue. That has no place here.

      Being in a negative relationship means that each person remains in relationship to each other based on negative actions usually because of underlying pathology in one or both, in this case both.

      The nuances you have missed are missed because you are not able to see beyond your own personal belief system. When you are able to do that you will see that this is not bad man versus good woman, it is not your own story writ large.

      I am not going to allow anymore posts that are challenging towards other readers in this way, I recognise the attitude and it has no place here.

      Like

  14. Flynn · April 28, 2015

    After a long reply I mistakenly had it deleted so please excuse my brevity

    Thank you for providing this support group for those of us who who struggle what is unfortunately considered a “syndrome.” For those of us who under stand this loss it is has similarities to those who have lost their children through cancer.

    Regardless of gender we are knitted together irrespective of our genders and thank you Karen for having that intuitive wisdom to set the essential therapeutic boundaries. This is a humanist group and I am fortunate enough to get payed for saving those in emergency services during their darkest hours. No I have to live off the very same words that came to me as I helped many through that darkest moment in time.

    I have included the names to 2 videos that I felt were extremely moving and though they come from a Daddy’s perspective I hope it does not detract. We are one and thank you for helping me move forward.

    The first video reminds me of the days when my children were wee ones.

    http://youtu.be/VGDj85sP0jI My Dad is a Liar who made Millions in Tears

    This following is very much how I feel at this moment and with hope we don’t recover but learn to live with it.

    http://youtu.be/fTkv10WVJLE Daddy’s hiding in the phone

    Thank you all,

    Flynn

    Like

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