So you’re a parent whose child is the subject of care proceedings, or perhaps you are a father seeking contact with your child. In either case, the best thing you can do is get a good lawyer to advise and represent you. You don’t do that, though, because of course lawyers are part of the secret and corrupt family justice system. Instead, you decide to take matters into your own hands. Maybe you will expose all the lies and bias of the family law professionals dealing with your case, by recording your conversations with them. Or perhaps you will circumvent the system entirely, by seeking other means to get the truth out there, perhaps through social media.
Setting out on family proceedings with the preconception that the family justice system is secret, corrupt and biased against you is a recipe for disaster, as has been proved now by a series of recent judgments. Yet, as comments on this very blog prove, there are many out there who are anxious to peddle this nonsense to anyone they can. And unfortunately, there are many who are gullible enough, or perhaps just confused enough, to fall for it.
In the light of the reaction to my post here last week, it is clear that I need to explain in a little more detail just why the secret family courts narrative is so wrong, harmful and dangerous.
First of all, as I said in my previous post, I fully accept that there are of course some ‘bad’ family law professionals, just as there are bad eggs in every walk of life. There are also cases in which the courts get it wrong – no system is perfect, no matter how hard it strives to be. And no, I am not being complacent, just honest. If you are the victim of a ‘bad’ professional, or of a genuine miscarriage of justice, then you have my fullest sympathy. The fact, however, is that your experience is rare. The vast majority of those working within the family justice system are dedicated, honest, hard-working professionals, who have the welfare of those caught up within the system, particularly of course of the children, at heart. And in the vast majority of cases the courts get it right, as evidenced by the very small number of successful appeals, or even attempted appeals.
In short, just because you feel that the system has worked badly in your case, that does not mean that the whole system is secret/corrupt/biased/whatever. (In fact, in most cases an honest re-evaluation of your case is likely to show that what happened was not, in fact, the fault of the system, and often the fault lies very much closer to home.)
OK, having got that out of the way, let’s put to rest another misconception: that believing the secret family courts narrative doesn’t matter. After all, it’s just a bit of harmless nonsense, akin to the sort anti-establishment talk or conspiracy theory you’re likely to hear in your local pub, isn’t it? Well, if you’re not involved in any family proceedings, then I suppose that’s true.
However, if you are involved in family proceedings then the belief that the system, and everyone in it, is against you is likely to seriously warp your judgement. As suggested in my first paragraph above, you are likely to make bad decisions every step of the way, if you engage with the proceedings or especially if you don’t. Instead of doing the right thing, as a good lawyer would recommend, you may decide to take the ‘advice’ of the peddlers, such as the bright idea of removing children ‘threatened’ with care proceedings from the country or, as suggested to me on Twitter yesterday, not reporting domestic violence because that is likely to result in your children being taken away from you. Whatever, your chances of achieving the result you seek are going to be harmed, and very possibly damaged irreparably. Think about it: you wouldn’t ask that chap at the pub for medical advice, so why take his advice on a legal matter of such importance?
And it is not just the litigant who is the victim. The entire family, and in particular the children, is likely to suffer. Children will be separated from their parents, fathers will lose contact with their children, and relationships between parents and children will be shattered.
So, if you are tempted to peddle the secret family courts narrative, stop and consider the possible consequences. You could save a lot of people a lot of misery and suffering.