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Child residence on BBC Radio London

BBC Radio London 94.9 Drive Time – Eddie Nester – 12 June 2015

Yesterday, Managing Partner Julian Hawkhead was interviewed by Eddie Nester on BBC Radio London.

Julian was discussing child residence.



 EN:               Eddie Nester

JH:                Julian Hawkhead


 EN:               Julian Hawkhead is a Managing Partner at Stowe Family Law and has joined us.  Hugely difficult subject to discus and I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us about it, Julian.


JH:                Good Evening, Eddie


EN:               The judge has ruled that the boy should live with his father.  We’ve done so many stories on this show, predominantly here in London about Family Courts and how they seem to err in the side of the woman and the presumption is that the child will stay with the woman.  So many times we’ve done that.  Why would something like this have been decided?


JH:                Well I think it’s fair to say that there is some suggestion that there is some gender discrimination but the reality is when couples separate, quite often it’s the mother who has been the primary career of the children.  So what the court is trying to do in the interest of the child is leave the children with a minimum disruption really.  So this case is quite unique in that the court has ordered that the child should live with the father.  But the background is quite exceptional in that there’s been a process already within the court in which certain court experts make recommendations that the child should live with the father based on that they consider that to be in the best interests of the boy.


EN:               Yes, and we all worry, don’t we as a society that when parents run off with their children and they feel frustrated that a system that they don’t think has taken their views and their feelings into account, we get really, really nervous. Do we need to?  Is that unfounded do you think?


JH:                I think the difficulty is, anybody who goes to court is getting involved in an adversarial process and increasingly these days the courts, the government are recommending alternative ways to try to deal with matters, such as mediation.  And in an ideal situation, parents when they separate and it happens all the time, but parents when they separate would be able to agree the arrangements with their children.  And it’s in these rare cases when there is a high case of animosity between the parents and maybe the children being brought into those allegations and concerns, and it’s affecting their own physical and emotional wellbeing, that the courts have to step in and to make a decision, but it’s very tragic when that has to happen.


EN:               Yes, is it tragic when the baby isn’t with the mother in this one or are you yourself falling victim to the preconception that children are better with their mothers, do you think?


JH:                Oh no, not at all.  I think it’s very tragic that the courts had to intervene at all.  I think it’s very tragic that it’s got to the stage where the relationship between mother and father has reached the stage where the courts had concerns that the child’s welfare was at risk and I’m not saying this was necessarily a physical welfare, may be emotional welfare, and that may have been just as a result of feeding off comments or maybe just the vide of the mother’s attitude towards the dad.  I don’t know, I don’t know the full details of the case.


EN:               No, no.  But broad strokes is what I want.  I interested and what I imagine around the water coolers, photo copiers and car parks of London, other people are too.  How seriously do courts take this type of action?


JH:                Very seriously, this sort of step, and it could be father or it could be mother, the point to which a court are saying that the non-resident parent needs to have supervised contact, it’s a very serious step and there are contact centres up and down the country that will facilitate these supervised contact sessions…


EN:               No, that’s not what I meant; I meant taking your child against the wishes of the court and running away.  Even if you say, and we heard there, you have the child’s best interests at heart, how seriously do courts take that?


JH:                It’s very serious, because obviously to breach a court order, is in itself the content of court and if we are all going to abide by the law, then we need to do what the court tells us to do.


EN:               Yes, she’s going to have a tough time when she comes back.  Listen, I think you’ve been fantastic and I appreciate it very, very much.  Just helping us to understand a story that’s been around a couple of days now and we just hope it’s going to end well.  That’s Julian Hawkhead who is a Managing Partner at Stowe Family Law.  We’ll be talking again, Julian I promise you that.

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