Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Here's to Simon and Esti

Here is considerably more background on the case in the UK which has seen the striking down of the secrecy laws of the UK family courts. I commented on this a few days ago, and I ask was what was done to this little girl's father really "in her best interest"?

Simon and Esti's case and its legal consequences represent a small victory in a hidden war which is being fought throughout the western world. In truth, the usual losers are not simply the fathers, they are non-custodial parents in general and the children whom they love and who love them.

Most western countries' custody laws are set upon the premise that if the parents cannot agree then one parent should have priority when it comes to authority over the child. This is done on the expedient and unsound assumption, which is really more of an excuse, that if it is not then the child will not be able to form a developmentally sound parent-child relationship with either parent.

This simplistic thinking automatically pits the parents against eachother. If the custodial parent chooses to act maliciously, the courts are disinclined to crack down for fear of the knock-on effect on the children. This puts enormous power in the hands of an unscrupulous custodial parent and renders the other painfully vulnerable.

It furthers the hostile custodial parent's goals to be uncooperative, to manufacture "fears" for the children's safety, to pump up the hysteria and force the other out of the picture. Wanting to act, to resolve something, the courts may even take the easy way out and take the alienating parent's side.

A disenfranchised parent in such a position is tormented by the need to fight for their relationship with their children and the conflicting need to not fight for fear of making things worse. Months, years, decades can go by without contact or with so little contact as to almost be meaningless. Some don't make it. They are terrified to speak out for fear of upsetting a judge, even in jurisdictions where gag orders are not used as they are in the UK. Some dissolve into their own despair and some do worse. They are struck dumb at a time when they most need to be able to speak out, not just by bad laws but by the unspoken rules of the machine which takes their children from them. This is supposed to be "in the best interest of the children".

Simon and Esti got lucky. Here's a prayer that others will too.

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