Things are seldom easy and often not very straightforward when relationships end. Where children are involved, the potential for distress is magnified. Sons and daughters, whether grown-up or not, sometimes experience trauma of their own trying to come to terms with the fact that one of the two most familiar figures in their lives suddenly won’t be living under the same roof.
Whilst such upset is a sad but natural part of marriages or cohabitations breaking down, there should always be an emphasis on the part of the parents to set aside any friction between themselves in order to ensure that the impact of separation or divorce on their children is minimised.
It’s a principle by which the Family courts strongly abide. Sensitive matters are dealt with calmly and – usually – in private to avoid highlighting domestic difficulties.
That is why the decision of Bristol Crown Court to identify a mother who has gone into hiding with her young son is so striking.
Rebecca Minnock left her home in Somerset with three-year-old Ethan after a court order that the child should live with his father. That was the latest stage of a dispute between the couple about Ethan’s living arrangements and reversed an earlier move allowing the boy to live with Miss Minnock.
In my experience, such a change of heart is rarely exercised by courts and certainly doesn’t happen without what it believes is sufficient reason to do so. They do not take such proceedings lightly.
Furthermore, issuing names and photographs of the missing mother and child runs counter to the practice of preventing those involved in Family court cases from being identified. The idea is that anonymity means problems can be addressed without everyone else knowing about them.
However, in this case, it would be troublesome making an order as to where Ethan is to live if it then can’t be enforced because neither he nor his mother can be found
Three of Miss Minnock’s relatives were also arrested at the weekend and threatened with criminal charges if they failed to reveal her whereabouts.
Other courts have warned of the consequences of separating parents using their children as “pawns” to score points against each other.
No matter how much relations have deteriorated between partners, there can surely be no excuse for behaving in such a manner.
Regardless of the risk for such conduct to make things more fraught in the short-term, the children concerned are quite likely not to thank those responsible well into the future.
To discuss any of the issues raised in this article please do not hesitate to get in contact with Oratto today.
Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with a family law adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.