June 3rd, 2011

Lord Justice Wall, President of the Family Division of the High Court in England gave a speech entitled “Is the Family Justice System in Need of Review” to the Families Need Fathers charity on 19th September 2010 in Coventry in which he warned that disputes over contact are “rarely about the children concerned” and that “far more often the parties are fighting over again the battles of the relationship, and the children are both the battlefield and the ammunition”.

Of interest were the following comments:
• “separating parents rarely behave reasonably, although they always believe that they are doing so, and that the other party is behaving unreasonably”
• that if a parent denigrates the other to their children the child’s sense of self-worth can be “irredeemably damaged”
• “parents simply do not realise the damage they do to their children by the battles they wage over them”
• “post separation parenting is exceedingly difficult” and as a rule of thumb his experience was “that the more intelligent the parent, the more intractable the dispute”
• “on the one hand there is parental unreasonableness and on the other a system which is simply not designed to address the issues which it is being asked to decide”.
• He said that family law does not easily fit into the concept of an adversarial system and he commented that “these problems are best resolved outside the courtroom not in it”.
• Lord Justice Wall, stated that he believed that the UK government was likely to invest heavily in the outcome of the Family Justice Review which is currently underway and he commented that one did not need a crystal ball to see that out of court mediation and conciliation will be encouraged.

Please see for the full text of Lord Justice Wall’s speech.