Children and Families Bill

Memorandum submitted by Mrs Catherine Barrow (CF 75)

The Children and Families Bill 2013

Re : Clause 11

‘A presumption that the involvement of both parents in a child’s life will further that child’s welfare unless the contrary is shown.’

I write to support Clause 11 of the Bill.

As a parent and grandparent , I support Clause 11.

The non resident parent is currently disadvantaged in matters of contact if the resident parent wishes to be difficult.

A legal recognition that regular access for the child to both parents will benefit the child during his or her upbringing, and enable the non resident parent to contribute fully to the child’s development, will benefit all parties, and most importantly will meet the child’s needs and best interests more effectively.

The ‘presumption’ of the validity of the involvement and influence of both parents is crucial.

In order for Clause 11 of the Children and Families Bill to be effective, I consider that the Court needs to recognise the following points:

· It is in the child’s best interests, unless proven to the contrary, to maintain a significant relationship with his or her non resident parent ; this usually being the father.

· That parental alienation exists, and is understood as a form of child abuse, as perpetuated by the resident parent.

· That the resident parent’s influence on the child in this situation causes both short and long term damage to the child ; both in her relationship with her father , and in her emotional /psychological development; both for childhood and adult life.

· Where the child’s stated wishes are in direct conflict with her best interests, his or her best interests should be given precedence; particularly where the stated wishes are a direct or indirect reflection of emotional abuse by the resident parent.

· A presumption that the father is able to act in the best interests of his child unless proven otherwise; and hence is given the sanction by the court to do so accordingly.

· That particular attention is given to the non resident parent’s case for his child’s wellbeing as presented to the court; as often being the trigger for Family Court involvement in the first place.

· For Court Process to move swiftly and decisively, to prevent a deepening of the alienation process being effected on the child by the resident parent.

· In working to reach solutions, where the resident parent is acting as a barrier to contact, the resident parent should be recognised as central to the problem ; and action taken accordingly.

· An understanding of the importance of other family members on the wellbeing of the child. Where contact with the father is meagre or denied, the child in effect loses contact with the extended family on the father’s side.

· A recognition of the ‘cycle of abuse’ which is instigated by the resident parent

· The child may learn manipulative behaviours from the resident parent; and this influence, together with the loss of a relationship with the father, could feasibly pass to future generations, resulting in troubled and troubling adults ill equipped to raise their own children effectively.

· An understanding of the trauma and distress caused to the child, compounded where there is failure by the Court system to act in that child’s best interests.

· The Court needs to make wise decisions to resolve the difficulty and not perpetuate it.

· Often, the child needs to be freed from the burden of decision making in this situation.

The implementation of ‘Clause 11’ will, potentially, significantly improve the relationship between the child and his/ her non resident parent; where the above points are understood, and where their implication is clearly evident in the resulting Court decisions.

April 2013

Prepared 19th April 2013