Post-separation parenting & passing the eye contact test.

A 123 page report has just hit the desk of family law practitioners and it pretty much tells us what we already knew: parents are almost always in a far better position to make decisions for their children than we are; and taking a children dispute to court is NEVER a magic wand.

The report from the Family Solutions Group has come as the family court is buckling under the strain of cases brought before it…and all the more so during the pandemic when pretty much all hearings have to take place remotely.

As we finally move to ‘no fault divorce’ next year, the report contains an impassioned plea to parents to make lawyers an option of last not first resort. Except of course in situations of child abuse or domestic violence, there should be a strong shift towards parents creating their own solutions to parenting rather than expecting the courts to fix things.

One of the reports findings as highlighted by the eminent High Court Judge Mr Justice Cobb is that if parents can be courageous and agree always to meet each other’s eyes during the handing over of their children for visits, they will do a huge service to the whole family and indeed are far more likely to be able to share the parenting milestones together, albeit apart, of school events, Christmas and birthdays, graduations and weddings.

With Good Divorce Week coming up next month, this is a timely document worth a read for all those of us who are parenting together but apart.

Having recently celebrated my son’s lockdown 18th with fizz and birthday cake in the garden, joined by his father, his father’s new wife and my new husband, I can vouch personally for the fact that finding a way through hostilities to an ‘entente cordiale’ really does pay off in spades.

Divorcing parents who can't look each other in the eye should be forced to attend re-education courses before they are allowed to share custody of their children, judge-led report says divorced parents should be asked to take ‘eye contact test’.
The report was produced to find ways of easing pressure on the family courts 
Divorced parents should be asked to take an ‘eye contact test’ to check whether they get on well enough to share the care of their children, according to a judge-led report.

Only if they can look each other in the face when they exchange their children should they be considered responsible parents, it says.