The Sunday Times ran an interesting story this week. It told of a mother who has been denied all contact with her children by the court, after she was found to be turning them against their father. Marilyn Stowe posted about the case yesterday and raised serious concerns about whether the court should have taken such draconian action.
I do not necessarily disagree with Marilyn's comments, but I thought I would have a go at playing devil's advocate. As Marilyn quite rightly says, we do not know the full facts of this case. However, we can (I hope) be sure that the mother's behaviour must have been pretty serious for the court to have taken the action that it did. Let us say, for example, that she did consistently prompt the children to make serious false allegations against the father. Let us say that these included false allegations of physical and sexual abuse. Let us say that despite repeated warnings by the court, she persisted in this behaviour and that as a result the children have suffered serious emotional harm, which will only be made worse by further contact their mother. How, then, is the court to deal with her?
And a couple of other matters. Firstly, the Sunday Times makes a point of telling us that the mother was "the former wife of a rich City financier", as if this makes it an even more appalling decision by the court - after all, ex-wives of rich city financiers do not behave like that, do they? Yes, they do. As with domestic violence, bad behaviour in an acrimonious divorce can be found at all levels of society.
Secondly, and this is just a thought, would this case have made the news if it was the father who was being denied contact with his children?