April 22, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Here’s another gem from John Bolch (Marilyn Stowe Blog, 4/12/18). Truly, the man is so in thrall to courts and judges that critical thought unduly taxes him. Fortunately for all of us, he seems to be doing less and less of that, mostly allowing the judges to speak for themselves. Even so, he gets it wrong.
The case he refers to is called P vs. C & Others. In it we have two children who were 13 and 11 last year when the case was initially tried. Ms. Justice Russell presided and found that the mother (C) had engaged in much detrimental behavior.
“I find that C has never wanted contact to take place and has constantly and repeatedly tried to stop or undermine the time the children spend with their father.” …
“…by manipulating her children, C has achieved what she has always wanted and stopped contact with their father. She has done so either because she cannot help herself or because she had quite deliberately set out to expunge their father from their lives. These children have suffered significant emotional harm as a result of their mother’s manipulative actions…”
“The fact is that these two children have been emotionally abused by their mother.”
In other words, the children’s mother actively alienated the children against the father. She did so “constantly and repeatedly” and “stopped contact with their father.” Parental alienation is child abuse and Russell so found. That was last April, one year ago.
But Bolch didn’t write about that hearing. No, he wrote about the more recent one. Why was there a more recent one? Because last year, having found the above-stated facts in the case, Ms. Justice Russell apparently did nothing. She didn’t switch custody to the children’s father, she didn’t give him a lengthy period of makeup time for all the time he’d missed. She apparently never used the term “parental alienation.” She seems not to have ordered the children or C to therapy. She seems to have simply told Mom to try to do better and Dad to come back next year if he’s not happy. Meanwhile, she left the door open for C to continue her abuse of the two children.
She did all that in the face not only of C’s alienating behavior, but of the recommendations of both the local authority and the children’s guardian ad litem.
As a result of these findings it appeared that it would be in the children’s best interests for them to be removed from their mother’s care, and go to live with their father, who resides in Sweden. Indeed, both the local authority and children’s guardian recommended this.
In short, Russell ignored her own findings and the recommendations of two separate independent parties in order to keep the children with their abusive mother. Needless to say, John Bolch approves.
He does so because, in the intervening year, C cleaned up her act.
But many things changed between April last year and the final hearing of the case in February this year. Firstly, contact between the children and their father was re-established, and appears to be proceeding reasonably well. Secondly, the children had become even more deeply ‘fixed’ in their lives in England – the younger child in particular having gained a place in a highly sought-after local secondary school, and both expressing a clear wish to remain in this country. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the mother’s behaviour and attitude towards the issue of the children’s relationship with their father had improved significantly, she apparently having realised the error of her ways vis-à-vis her previous behaviour.
Now, it never occurred to either Bolch or apparently Justice Russell that maybe, just maybe, C realized that her alienating behavior had put her in bad odor with the judge and decided to put a prettier face on things. Who among us will be surprised if we learn that, the final hearing behind her, she reverts to her former ways?
But that real possibility aside, what Bolch really wants readers to understand is that the orders issued by family court judges are all in the interests of children, so any second-guessing of Justice Russell’s patently wrong original ruling must go for naught.
As I said at the beginning, the final decision in a children case is not always obvious from the start. But then this is a natural consequence of the principle that the welfare of the child is paramount.
This raises an urgent question: Is it possible to be that stupid? John, the matter is simple; if the “welfare of the child” had truly been “paramount,” Justice Russell would long ago have put a stop either to C’s behavior or her custody. Parental alienation doesn’t happen overnight and I suspect Russell had ample opportunity to act against it in C’s case. She plainly did no such thing as her own findings strongly suggest.
Last April, she found a long and unbroken pattern of interfering with the father’s access. She also found C to have been emotionally abusive to the children. At that point, if the welfare of the child had been paramount, she’d have done something to stop the abuse, such as changing custody. But she didn’t.
Fathers in the U.K. complain about this sort of thing non-stop, but without success. And every time they do, John Bolch is there with some threadbare argument to the effect that judges always act in children’s interests even when they plainly don’t.
I’ve read and criticized many, many of Bolch’s blog posts. I’ve never once seen him go to bat for a wronged father. Not once. He invariably justifies the most outrageous actions by mothers, judges and others. He’s so desperate to justify the British family court system that he routinely simply doesn’t make sense. This case is one of those times.