Let them use Skype! Judge sends children to Australia with mother and tells father to talk to them via the internet

Read more:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1371632/Judge-sends-children-Australia-mother-tells-father-talk-Skype.html#ixzz1IDPzEQc

Despite Sir Nicholas's seeming acceptance last year that there were compelling reasons for international family law to be reviewed, once again,he reinforces the family courts' refusal to recognise children's needs and rights in relocation cases. A cold decision in the above case, overturning the decision of a lower court, and hardly child focused. How does a child gain comfort from a parent via the internet. Welcome to Sir Nicholas's world of the 'virtual parent'.

It is worth noting the disagreement between the Lord Justices of Appeal highlighted at paragraph 160 of the judgment . The trial judge showed an understanding which seems lost on Sir Nicholas.

How can our senior judiciary be so removed from the realities of family life and normal parenting as to believe that a child can gain comfort from a parent via the internet, and when separated by 13,000 miles? You can't hug your child via a webcam. Children need physical contact and comfort.

The case sees a father frightened by court, and pessimistic about his chances of success. A prophetic insight into the courts, and especially in relocation cases.

Sir Nicholas suggests in the judgment that relocation cases are 'fact specific'. They are not. The guidance that the court relies upon has no basis in fact, and is simply unqualified opinion which has failed to be substantiated for 40 years. The belief that refusal to grant a mother's request to relocate will so adversely impact on her as to affect her care of the children and cause them harm is nothing other than unsubstantiated judicial opinion. The mother is expected to be fragile and selfish. The father is expected to have a stiff upper lip about the loss of his relationship, and little comparative importance is granted to the father/child relationship. Allowances are made for the unproven possibility of women being emotionally fragile, but any sense of frailty in the father is a surprise and cause for criticism.

Worst still, the existing and compelling body of expert research is ignored by the courts. Wilfully and deliberately so, and the only reason we can see for this is that it conflicts with senior judges' own unqualified and unsubstantiated views. It is nothing short of negligence that the courts continue to ignore expert findings.

Sir Nicholas says that more research is required before the law can change. In 40 years, no research has been published which supports the courts view. Must we wait for another 2-3 generations? In the judgment, SIr Nicholas says he awaits research from Professor Marilyn Freeman, but it should be noted that in her last report, the experiences of only some 30-40 people are included. Our own research document lists studies from sample groups as high as 30-40,000. We can see no justification for more research, other than a desire for delay and this being the last desperate attempts of a discredited judiciary to prove that 40 years of judgments haven't harmed children.

The question might be asked, why should Sir Nicholas await a Professor of Law conducting a study into the impact of separation on children when there are leading professors of psychology and sociology who have released wide ranging studies which show harm! Sir Nicholas, we invite your response to this question.

A useful analogy would be the court needing to await research to prove that a child suffers harm from being beaten with a frying pan, when many studies exist which prove that a child suffers harm from being beaten with a stick. Children suffer harm when denied a relationship with one parent, or where one parent's involvement in their life is significantly reduced. Read 'Family Law: Relocation: The Case for Reform' and view the existing research findings yourself.

The Royal Courts of Justice have blocked appeals of their guidance and reasoning from reaching the Supreme Court. It now appears that judicial discretion by the lower courts faces their wrath if not in accordance with their own flawed beliefs.

Sir Nicholas' misplaced belief that child/parent relationships can be protected after relocation are groundless. For a real example of the system failing in this regard, visit www.savanah-jade.org. The courts hold to the guidance set in the case Payne v Payne where the children relocated to New Zealand. The father in that case also went on to lose all contact.

Please join us in registering your disapproval at yet another heartless decision by our most senior members of the judiciary.

Email the Administrative Officer for the Family Division, Royal Courts of Justice, asking for your email to be forwarded to Sir Nicholas Wall, President of the Family Division:

Email: francene.jackson@hmcourts-service.gsi.gov.uk

It is not just us who are critical...

Ann Thomas, Managing Partner of the International Family Law Group said only last November 'How can we, in the English legal profession, have gone so wrong, have failed so many children, have inadvertently engaged in gender discrimination for almost 2 generations....'

In December 2009, in our first report on child relocation, Sir Bob Geldof wrote 'The court is entirely informed by outdated social engineering models and contemporary attitudes rather than fact, precedent rather than common sense and modish unproven nostrums rather than present day realities. It is a disgraceful mess. A farrago of cod professionalism and faux concern largely predicated on nonsensical social guff, mumbo-jumbo and psycho-babble. Dangling at the other end of this are the lives of thousands of British children and their families.'

Sandra Davis of leading law firm MIshcon De Reya wrote in Jordan's International Family Law 'The choice to have children necessarily involves sacrifices... One of those sacrifices must be to prioritise a child's needs to maintain a fulfilling relationship with both of his parents over an often selfish desire to start afresh following parental separation.'

Join in this campaign to stop child welfare being ignored by our courts, and please take time to read our latest report 'Family Law: Relocation and the Case for Reform' launched at the Palace of Westminster in November 2010.