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Who is more child focussed? The Mother or Father? Let the Judge decide

This image is a great example of the simplicity of what a family court judge or magistrates may be faced with. Two separated parents will have strong opposing views and be locked in a deadlock. Both the mother and father may have strong views on how the child's time with the other parent is arranged (one restrictive and one expansive). This might mean the judge or magistrates could order a number of possible situations outcomes. Here are some examples for illustration: One parent may want to move their family to a different area involving a long drive for the other parent to collect the child. The other parent may think the drive will have a significant impact on the child and the time they spend together. So the Judge may need to decide for them at a "contested" hearing if the move is in the best interests of the child.

In another example, one parent may be holding on to bad feelings about the other parent and want to cut them out of the child's life permanently. The other parent may want a shared parenting arrangement of 50/50 time with each parent

So what happens if you are faced with this kind of co-parenting dispute? How can I help you get through such situations to a positive outcome? 

step 1 is going to be being prepared to speak to a cafcass "family court advisor". This social worker who works for the court system will interview both parents over the telephone to risk assess the situation and draw out from the parents the key information to make a "recommendation" to the judge or magistrates on how to proceed. Their assessment is shared with both the parents and the judge or magistrates with the intention of influencing the parents and the court to reach a child focussed outcome.

Here comes the BIG tricky issue: No one within the court process gives you clarity on what to say or what is expected from you at this interview. The cafcass family court advisor will expect both parents to explain clearly what is behind their strong viewpoints and to break down their thought processes of what is best for the child.

It's my professional experience that many parents going through family courts don't know how to zoom out of their lives and speak about how they go about meeting their child's emotional needs and ensure their long-term welfare. There is a chance they may focus on the wrong things or not share their views on key matters.



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