Leave them out of it!

Always put the children first

Think about the children when divorcing, use a collaborative lawyer.

It was reported recently that an Italian lady was ordered by an Italian Court to pay her ex-husband 30,000 euro’s in compensation (£27,000) for continually bad-mouthing him in front of their children.

The Family Court in Rome clearly wanted to set a precedent and warning to any parent, who in the event of separation or divorce, attempts to malign and condemn their former spouse as a way of hurting them.

In this particular case, the Mother of three was accused of turning the children against their father to the point that the youngest child no longer wanted to see his father. The Judge commented in Judgement that the Woman clearly wanted to “destroy her ex husband’s relationship with his children.”’ Under Italian law the court can intervene in cases like this with sanctions but this is the first time that the law has been applied in this way.

With the ‘Brexit’ vote and the triggering of Article 50 around the corner, there could potentially be changes to how our own legal system works however we should still take notice of cases such as the one mentioned above. The Family Court in Rome made it very clear that the Mother’s behaviour was unacceptable and the ruling was clearly a stark warning to warring parents. THIS IS NOT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILDREN. Separated parents, whether married or not, must always put the welfare of the children above their own.

As a UK Family solicitor I always give clear advice to my client’s (whether the mother or the father) that the Court wants to see both parents involved in the lives of the children and the children should not hear one parent bad-mouthing the other. Often it is placed in the Court Order that both parents must not belittle, criticise or bad-mouth the other parent. Sadly it is often the case that the children do not only witness this behaviour when both parents are in the same room (during contact hand over for example) but also when the other parent is absent and the parent who is looking after the children thinks that they have a free reign to bad-mouth the other parent. A Court Order stipulating that this must not happen may help focus the mind but it clearly does not solve the issue in its entirety. It is the parents responsibility to put their children’s wishes and feelings first above their own and stop any of this behaviour.

When a court is considering any question relating to the upbringing of a child it must use the welfare checklist set out in the Children Act 1989 (s1) to ascertain the child’s wellbeing.

Below are the key points as set out in the checklist:

  1. The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in light of his age and understanding);
  2. His physical, emotional and/or educational needs;
  3. The likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;
  4. His age, sex, background and any characteristics of his, which the court considers relevant;
  5. Any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
  6. How capable each of his parents and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs;
  7. The range of powers available to the court under the Children Act 1989 in the proceedings in question.

When the court considers a question of a child's upbringing the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration and because of this any bad-mouthing made by a parent is not looked on favourably.

I always advise client’s to always put the children’s wishes and feelings first as this will be better for the long term future of the children and their relationships with their parents.

If you require further help or legal advice concerning a family matter please contact the Family team on 01733 882800 or email info@hcsolicitors.co.uk .

Author

Giuseppe Pingerna, Solicitor

giuseppe.pingerna@hcsolicitors.co.uk.

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.