In the recent case of Re H-B the Court of Appeal have emphasised the need for separating parents to each take full responsibility for ensuring that their children, no matter what age, have a good relationship with the other parent.
In my experience, when faced with the difficult situation of separating from a partner, some parents can find it hard to differentiate between their feelings towards the other parent and the best interests of their children when making decisions for those children, particularly as they did not expect to find themselves in this position. The Court of Appeal has said that when a relationship ends it is important for the benefit of any children that both parents, working together, take charge about what happens with their family, rather than focusing on their individual rights over their children.
Where the parents do have a hostile relationship, it is crucial that we as solicitors give clear advice and guidance to help to resolve the situation, rather than pouring 'fuel on the fire' as I have seen some other solicitors do, possibly to drive up their legal fees.
J and K have an image of their father which, however it has come about, is distorted and profoundly damaging to them. But it is unrealistic for anyone, the mother included, to imagine that this state of affairs will continue indefinitely. Sooner or later, and it may be much sooner than the mother believes or would wish, the children will come to discover the full story of their parents' failures. What will they think? How will they react? In particular, what will the children think, how will they react, when they discover, as one day they will, that their father is not the man they currently believe him to be? Will they then turn against their mother? Will they reject both parents? The mother needs to ponder these questions and think hard about what the answers might be.