Thursday, August 07, 2014

The Little Book of Divorce Questions

Coming soon...

How do you know if it is time to get divorced?
What should you do?
How do you decide?
What are the legal considerations?
What is the emotional impact?

If you are considering getting divorced this is one of the most difficult and traumatic decisions of your life.  Bereavement is traumatic but it is not your decision. Choosing to divorce means taking the decision to radically change the course of your life and those closest to you.  The emotional impact of such a decision should not be underestimated.

Extract from my new book:

If you have purchased this book, you are probably facing the agonising decision of whether to change your life dramatically and divorce your spouse. This is not a decision to be taken lightly or quickly. Most people agonise over this decision for many years. The process of indecision is the primary cause of pain. It is possible to uncover what you really want and assess whether remaining with your husband or wife, or divorcing them is the right decision for you.

The reason the decision is so painful is the fear of the unknown and the uncertainty as to whether either decision will be the right one. It can be compared to the agonising decision over an abortion. Many people end up in a position whether they neither want to have a child or an abortion. Uncovering your emotional response and the true choice which is the right outcome for you, is a similar process when you are getting divorced.

What choice are you facing? Whether to remain unhappily married or to obtain a divorce and face the future alone, perhaps without ever meeting another partner and perhaps being equally unhappy.

I hope that my book will help you work through one of the most important decisions you will ever have to make...

If the Answer is yes I do want to divorce... then The Little Book of Divorce is there to help you with the next step.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Children Aged 10 and Over to have a say in the Family Courts

The Government have decided to allow children to have a voice in the family courts.  Where parents are arguing over what is best for their children the Governement will now allow the children themselves to voice their opinion direct to the Judge - rather than be interviewed by CAFCASS or ignored completely if no CAFCASS report is commissioned.

Is this a good idea?

Yes. The Government have selected the age of 10 because that is in line with other legislation - for example the criminal age of responsibility - if children are deemed old enough to take punishment for their actions they should be old enough to have a say in their own life.

A child's wishes and feelings are one of the factors to be taken into account when the court determines what is in the child's best interest.  It is not necessarily determinative - a child not always knowing what is in their own best interest - for example most children would choose not to go to school or the dentist.

The factors taken into account are called the Welfare Checklist as detailed here  Children Act Matters and include the following:

- The wishes and feelings of the child, in light of the child’s age and understanding. - The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs.
- The likely effect on the child of any change in their circumstances.
- The child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics the court considers relevant.
- Any harm the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering.
- How capable each of the child’s parent’s (and any other relevant person in relation to whom    the court considers the question to be relevant) is of meeting the child’s needs.
- The range of powers available to the court.

Baroness Hale (as she was then) in Re D  (a Child), A Hague Convention case, explains the importance of the views of a child in general terms, emphasising that it is the child more than anyone else who has to live with the reality of any order that the court makes:

 There is a growing understanding of the importance to the children involved in children’s cases.  It is the child, more than anyone else, who will have to live with what the court decides. Those who do listen to children understand that they often have a point of view which is quite distinct from that of the person looking after them.  They are quite capable of being moral actors in their own right.  Just as the adults may have to do what the court decides whether they like it or not, so may the child.  But that is no more a reason for failing to hear what the child has to say than it is for refusing to hear the parent’s views’

The announcement of the legislation can be read here...Simon Hughes speech at the Voice of the Child Conference