High Court judge tells feuding parents to talk to each other

Children|Family|News|February 20th 2014

A High Court judge has told parents who have litigated over access to their twin sons for a “dismal decade” to sit down for a cup of tea and try to resolve their differences.

Mrs Justice Pauffley told the court:

“The very sad reality is that for more than 10 years there has been court conflict between the parents. Various issues have arisen – parental responsibility, contact (how much, how often, staying or visiting, the arrangements for collection and delivery), the children’s last names – but overall the battle has been about the role which their father should properly occupy in the children’s lives.”

The cases was clear demonstration that “protracted litigation over children is profoundly harmful to everyone concerned”, the judge declared. She had detected a sense of exhaustion, she said, with the whole family wanting the dispute to come to end.

Letters written by the one-time couple’s 12 year-old boys had made her “sad”.

Mrs Justice Pauffley had “made some practical proposals as to how the parents might interact with one another in their sons’ presence so as to make their transitions from one home to the other a less tense and a more enjoyable experience.”

She continued:

“In particular, I suggested that when the boys were dropped off and picked up, each parent should be made welcome in the home of the other, invited to sit down around the kitchen table and offered a cup of tea (or similar).”

Both parents had responded positively to the idea and had agreed to shared residence order, the Telegraph reports.

The judge said:

“It gives me great pleasure to approve the draft consensus which provides that henceforward there is to be a shared residence order in favour of both parents. The boys’ weekends will alternate between the homes of their mother and father. School holidays and half-terms will be divided more or less equally.”

Mrs Justice Pauffley concluded:

“The details will be worked out by the parents. They welcome without hesitation the firm message that this is the final order, that there is no need for any further court involvement, and that any return to litigation would be a profoundly retrograde step.”

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  1. Yvie says:

    I seem to remember my son telling his ex. she was welcome to come in at any time when she was collecting the children. Her response was that she had no intention of ever coming in as she was not his friend. I agree with the Judge that separated parents should put animosity towards each other aside, and try at least to be civilised for the sake of the children. However, if the law was a bit more balanced to reflect the needs of fathers, mothers and their children, it might prevent ‘custody’ from becoming a battle.

  2. JamesB says:

    I have friends of both sexes who are single parents. Divorce is very hard, especially for the children, and I can imagine those letters from the 12 year old, as I have a 12 year old.

    It is very hard to allow your ex in for a cup of tea. I know of more than 1 occasion where the woman has done so only to be pawed and groped at by the ex. It is hard to move on and people need to rather than perhaps lingering a hope that there might be a reconciliation. This may also appear to be the case for the children with the tea, which is false hope.

    I have been in my ex’s house recently, and my ex has been in my house recently, on both occasions less than 5 minutes. I found it very hard, that said, the best gift you can give your give your children in divorce is to remain friends with the other parent, it is just hard. Especially when they are making your life very difficult as Yvie says.

    Setting the boundaries is important, I think a cup of tea is probably slightly over the boundary. Maybe once a year to sort things out but as a regular occurrence it is probably upsetting for all. Unless there is a reconciliation perhaps.

    That said I expect to be doing this at least once (with my wife and her husband) within the next 9 years to sort out some odds and ends, but no more than that unless I really have to, at most once per year. Odds and ends being education and money and children’s upbringing and things like that.

    It is very hard to be friendly towards someone who has treated you very bad and continues to do so. That said it is better than going on fighting and is the Christian thing to do. The less ripped off you feel the easier doing this sort of thing is. Sadly, that is how the lawyers make some money as go be tweens.

    This post struck a chord with me, it’s pretty much exactly the same situation I am in.

  3. Stitchedup says:

    If high court judges want feuding parents to talk to each other perhaps the courts should be less eager to slap non-mols and non-communication orders on people (usually men).

  4. Paul says:

    Mrs Pauffley ought to ponder on why it’s taken her courts a decade before she comes out with an admonition like that. Maybe the courts like to see a bit of a fist fight first before they come out with such wonderadvice for parents.

    What is good is to see all this childish stuff come out so we have to thank Headmaster Munby for that.

  5. William MIllard says:

    If it was that easy for the parents to sit down and have a pleasant cup of tea together, why has the case been in court for 10 years? Presumably because one of the parents was implacably hostile to the other.. I’d give it 6 months max before it’s back in court… again. Call me cynical but some things never change, especially the obdurate parent.

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