As our country seems to have reached family breakdown at epidemic proportions I despair as I can’t see how on earth we stop this runaway train.
There are calls from groups and organisations for Parental Rights, Grandparents Rights, Visitation Rights to name but a few. As you know I really have a problem with the word ‘Rights’, for me ‘Responsibility’ is what we should be referring to.
You can’t have one without the other.
There are many who seek to change the law, and I understand that the government is looking again at Family Reform, but I am not holding my breath.
We already have a law in place that is supposed to be activated when a relationship breaks down, its called Parental Responsibility, and anyone who has not gone through estrangements and alienation have no idea that those words are so often meaningless.
Even with Parental Responsibility it does not guarantee that children will continue a relationship with both parents, indeed there are hundreds of thousands of children who do not have that relationship.
Mums and Dads still need to got to court, if they can’t come to an agreement, to enable them to have contact with their children.
In many cases they attend court for weeks and months, and sometimes years, of course during this time the drip feed of acid is being applied by the resident parent and so the damage is taking effect. Children are told that Dad/Mum doesn’t love them anymore, that they don’t care about them and that they are bad people. Obviously if you tell children negative things about their other parent enough they believe it. Why wouldn’t they?
Non resident parents can spend 20,000 plus going through the court process, they have experts fighting their cause they will even ask their Doctors to do a mental health check on them so that the courts know they are perfectly ok and it is safe for the children to be with them.
The court may eventually decide that there is no case to answer, that allegations made against them are false and direct the resident parent in how contact must be adhered to.
You would imagine that the law has spoken so that is what will happen but in far too many cases, it isn’t.
The resident parent will breach that order over and over again.
And this is where it becomes unbelievable, more often than not there is no consequence. What is the point of having a law in place that is not fit for purpose?
During this horrible process, it takes its toll on peoples health, it sucks the breath out of individuals.
Whilst this has been going on of course the children have not had any contact with their non-resident parent, and the alienation has done its job.
I am a total believer in justice and the law, but as far as Family Law is concerned I have become a total cynic.
We have a whole generation growing up, who don’t have the love and care of both parents, even though they still love them both.
It is the children who are the ones who are being let down by a broken system, a system that is supposed to be there to protect our children and to make sure they safe, is doing the complete opposite.
Children who are now suffering from mental health issues, report after report sites broken family relationships as a trigger, to low self-esteem and to them thinking they are not loved and valued.
It is devastating for non-resident parents but it is the effect on the children that is paramount. They have no voice, they are victims of adult conflict.
The focus must not be about adult rights, whoever that may be, but about the children and right for them to have a continuing relationship with all family members.
It may be family breakdown but it is actually breaking the children.
(The exception always must be if a child is in a proven dangerous situation.)
When we have children it takes two people to create those children, there is no such thing as a single parent.
It is our responsibility to always put the children first.