In a highly constructive move by the family court bar association in Mumbai, a representation has been submitted to the principal judge, after noticing that in several matters reaching the family court, children are either neglected or used as a tool by one parent to settle personal scores.
After the family court reopened post the Covid induced lockdown, it witnessed a surge in the petitions related to conflicts between spouses with regards to access to a child/children, and a family court had to appoint independent lawyers in at least two matters for protecting rights of the children of spouses involved in bitter matrimonial discord.
The Family Court Bar Association on Tuesday wrote to the principal judge, family court, to form a panel of independent lawyers to protect the interests of children, reported Hindustan Times.
The representation said,
In many cases, issues related to maintenance and access to children are avoided and it is affecting the upbringing of the children. At times the children are used as a tool to settle their personal score in matrimonial proceedings.
The association’s letter added,
It is observed that the children are the silent sufferers and mostly not heard and not represented parties in the matrimonial proceedings. In many cases children are at high risk to suffer from Parenting Alienation Syndrome (PAS) which is affecting the mental health and psychological aspects of children.
The letter also added,
It is need of the hour to form panel and appoint Child’s Independent Lawyer to eliminate Parental Alienation aspects and encourage Shared Parenting Plan (Guidelines Drawn By Honourable Bombay High Court)
Suggestions by Family Court Bar Association
- The association believes that an independent children’s lawyer would help to protect the child’s interest in maintenance, custody/access and other related issues to the welfare and upbringing of the children
- The association has also suggested a host of guidelines for the independent children’s lawyer and those include that they shall be in regular touch with the child before every date and shall express the child’s views before the Court
- The independent children’s lawyer, according to the association, should look into the academic performance of the child, and in case of child sexual abuse the independent children’s lawyer shall visit Child Welfare Committee (CWC) or police or other authorities concerned and report it to the court. The association also suggested that the independent children’s lawyer can get the help of a child psychologist if a child needs one
The concept of appointing independent children’s lawyer began in December 2019 when family court judge PL Palsingankar for the first time ordered appointment of an independent lawyer for a seven year old boy whose parents failed to come to terms over the issue of access to the child during school vacations.
The court said independent lawyers should be appointed for children, especially where there are allegations of abuse or neglect in relation to the child/children, in highly contested matters, where there are allegations of tutoring the children and mental health issues alleged to exist in relation to one or both of the parents.
While describing the role of the independent children’s lawyer, the court said,
The independent children’s lawyer shall give his/her frank opinion about of the health physical and mental of child/children, progress of child/children academic and extra curricular, attachment with parents, use of the child/ children, independent opinion whether child/children is/are tutored or brain washed by particular parent either custodial or non custodial.
- India does not have a Shared Parenting law yet, despite being vocal advocate of Gender Equality
- Family courts are flooded with divorce cases, and whenever the same are contested, it is only the child who suffers most
- In almost all cases, custody of the child is handed over to the mother, unless in extreme situations
- It is the duty of the custodial parent not to brainwash the child against the non-custodial parent (most often the fathers)
- Separated men have been pleading to have access to their children, physically and now even virtually during the pandemic
- However, several disgruntled mothers have disconnected communication, or tutored their children how not to engage with their biological fathers
- In many cases, women have even defied orders of family court under the pretext of some excuse or the other of not permitting child to meet father
- Pre-covid days, there have been cases where Men would travel from different cities, countries, only to meet their children in the family court premises, on designated dates, however, custodial parent mothers would not turn up, take adjournments or give frivolous reasons for not bringing the child
- Such women often believe its a victory of sorts for them – as they satisfy their false ego – however, they do not understand how the child is affected mentally as he is unable to express his views/opinions for the father, under the pressure of custodial parent
- Children who are constantly made to feel victimised by feeding them with the narrative “Your father left us” (half baked story), often grow up to lead a lonely and depressed life
- Many such children also suffer in their education and career, as often the custodial parent is busy linking every action to her divorce/maintenance case
- Suggestions by family court bar association are extremely important for the welfare of these children, while custodial parent sadistically enjoys using their child as a tool to extort money or settle score with estranged husband and his family
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