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A child’s voice

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Julie Maxwell and her partner separated however, the court forbade them to tell their child that she was the subject of an order that would decide how much time she would spend with each parent. Miss Maxwell’s daughter was at the age of six when she overheard her mother on the phone talking about barristers. Complying with the law, Miss Maxwell could not freely tell her daughter what was happening whether she understood or not. Financially, she could not always afford solicitors and barristers therefore, filing paperwork and working late nights was tiresome for a single parent. Essentially, several of these hearings took over this family’s life and all attention was diverted away from parenting.

Where does this leave the child?

It is important to understand the affect that this could have on a child. The family court automatically discarded the child’s voice and opinions. Miss Maxwell explained

‘Our child was the subject of the case, but not a party to the case, and the law said I must not discuss the proceedings with anyone who wasn?t a party to the proceedings. But children are observant, they see and hear what is going on around them. How could I help our child make sense of what was happening while staying on the right side of the law?’

The child’s father often worked out of the country, and was unable to attend some weekends. Along with this, the father’s style of parenting did not work for their child, and they simply did not get on. After long meetings and court hearings it was the child who defied the court by not complying with what was being asked of her. Miss Maxwell stated

‘she refused to go to her father?s home, she refused to be picked up by him from school, she refused to go to the airport and refused to get on another plane. It was upsetting for us all. She became defiant. She was desperate to be heard. I listened but could not carry her message. I felt powerless.’

The court finally concluded that it could not force familial relationships. A guardian was appointed to the child and she was now part of the case. She finally had a voice. The child can now make her own arrangements based on how much time she wants to spend with her father. Miss Maxwell stated their relationship is healthier and is not pressured. She added

‘there must be another way to allow the parent to communicate to their own children while negotiating their way through a new set of a family arrangements. Surely this can only assist the child and lessen the burdens.’

This is a prime example of how KNBP can support separated families. We want to encourage shared parenting whilst making sure the child remains the centre of the subject. A child’s voice can often be drowned out by either the court or their parents wishes. Isn’t the child the most important person in this all?

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