The topic of single parent families has been in the news for some time now, however not much has been said about the millions of children living within these families and any impact of acrimonious parental relationships on them.
According to recent research, children who spend their childhood in a family where their parents’ relationship is acrimonious are frequently susceptible to significant emotional and mental harm. Often in these situations, children feel a sense of loss or blame themselves for the relationship breakdown. Regrettably, there are also a number of cases when the child is coerced by one parent to behave in a certain way against the other parent often leading to parental alienation or undermining contact. This can cause significant harm to the child, leaving them feeling torn about allegiances, confused and distressed.
The Head of our Family Department, Mitali Zakaria, acted in a significant Family Court Care case for three children, through their children's guardian - NW (Care Proceedings)  EWFC B83.
The mother lost the right to care for her children as a result her coaching them against their father. In this case the Judge heard expert evidence that the mother’s behaviour was “emotionally abusive and psychologically damaging”. The Judge, HHJ Atkins, ruled that a series of serious but untrue allegations, made by the mother about the father, meant it was in the best interests of the children to change their permanent residence from that of the mother’s to that of the father’s. Accordingly, he directed that, what is known as, a ‘Child Arrangements Order- (Live with)’ should be made.
The public law case was preceded by three sets of private law proceedings spanning over some seven years. These proceedings commenced following concerns raised by the Local Authority about the Mother’s attempts to alienate the children from their father.
If you would like to discuss this article or require advice or information on any aspect of Family Law please contact our lawyers - Mitali Zakaria, Somia Siddiq, Priyanka Chakravarty or Alexandra Wilks.
This article was written by Priyanka Chakravarty.