The Children Act film (2018): A family lawyers review

Family Law|September 5th 2018

Naheed Taj, Managing Partner at our Reading office reviews The Children Act film and discovers a story, not just about a painful Court case regarding the refusal of life-saving treatment for a young boy but of a marriage in crisis.

“This weekend I had the pleasure of watching ‘The Children Act’, a drama film written by Ian McEwan. The film was a thought-provoking and emotionally gripping tale about a leading High Court Judge, Fiona Maye, who is challenged with an urgent application made under the Children Act.

A young boy, aged 17, suffering from cancer refuses medical treatment on religious grounds. The child is supported in his refusal by his parents. However, the treating hospital seeks an Order to allow all necessary treatment to prolong the child’s life.

Whilst in the Courtroom, Judge Maye makes some very valid points which are often at the forefront of my mind as a Family Lawyer. Firstly, Judge Maye reminds everyone that the Court is a Court of law, not morals; and secondly, she reminds the audience that the child’s welfare shall be the Court’s paramount consideration.

All too often these are hard lessons clients are faced with when making applications to Court concerning their children. Children Act applications are emotionally very difficult and challenging cases. It takes a great heart to understand that the welfare of the child needs to be put before their own feelings.

Against, the backdrop of the courtroom drama, Judge Maye is facing a dilemma in her personal life. Judge Maye is characterised as a highly successful and renowned High Court Judge whose career has come before her own marriage. Over time Judge Maye has made countless personal sacrifices which have resulted in the physical and emotional detachment from her husband.

The psychology between Judge Maye and her husband was very interesting to watch as a Family Lawyer, as I often face clients who over time feel as if there is a void in their marriage which they are unable to fill.

The film is an excellent portrayal of how the pressures of work impact on one’s personal life, which far too often people overlook until it is too late and the damage has already been done.

In a heated argument Judge Maye’s husband, who leaves home for a few days reminds her that:

“I left this marriage for two days you left it years ago”.

Unfortunately, I have seen this in many relationships, where one individual checked out a long time ago, without realising. What then remains is the administrative tasks of running a life together, the emotional commitment of the marriage is long lost.

The story line also touches upon how couples in long marriages often end up like siblings and only have memories to hold on to about how things once were.

As a Family Lawyer, it is difficult to handle this sort of case where actually both parties, to a certain degree, are to blame for the deterioration of their marriage. With time, their marriage is no longer their number one priority. I guess you could say, life takes over!

Cases, where there is something far more tangible to blame, are often easier to deal with for instance an extramarital affair or unreasonable behaviour of some sort. However, the deterioration of a marriage over time is something that a lot of people find difficult to understand and cope with.”

If you wish to discuss to raise any of the issues raised in the film or this blog please do not hesitate to contact Naheed.taj@stowefamilylaw.co.uk or 07719 422107.

The image used is for promotional purposes only and has no connection to the film.
Author: Naheed Taj

Naheed has extensive experience of working in family law. She is an expert at private law disputes concerning children and complicated arrangement issues and has an interest in cases with an international element. She has expert knowledge of Sharia law, Talaq and dowry and is fully conversant in Urdu and Punjabi.

Comment(1)

  1. Helen Dudden says:

    Is this film showing the failures of a modern relationship or marriage? How do some marriages and relationships seem to do better? Has our expectations of our lives changed?
    Would there have been a time when the marriage could have been put back on track?
    As a 70 year great grandmother, I do see things differently.

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