Children at crossroads in custody battles 40-50 laptop instances are “facade” says Choose
By Usha Rani Das
New Delhi, December 22nd (PTI) Children are at the “crossroads” suffering “deep trauma” in custody disputes between estranged couples. Almost 40-50 percent of these fights are “wrong” and “façade” to pursue a hidden agenda other than their welfare, a district judge said in her book.
The chief district judge Poonam A Bamba has described her legal experience in dealing with the highly competitive custody battles in the courts in the book “Parents in POW Battles in Indian Courts”.
In an exclusive interaction with PTI about the book, the judge said that fake custody disputes put a strain on the judicial system, adversely affect children and levy taxes on all parties involved.
She said the book is an effort to bring out the plight of children, who bear the brunt of the parent-child custody dispute and who suffer deep trauma.
“People split up after the divorce and then the fight for custody begins. Battles get darker. Both want custody of the child. The child is the ultimate sufferer here. He / she is at the crossroads of litigation. Parents unknowingly cause permanent harm to the child. This book is an attempt to convey this message to parents that the child’s well-being is paramount, ”said Judge Bamba.
Sharing real-life cases, she wrote in the book that the hidden agenda ranged from revenging the custody parent’s petition for divorce (a parent in custody of the child) to a counter-explosion against a dowry case to a complaint by the woman under the law about domestic violence.
“May I say that custody disputes, like drugs, can also be wrong. Such cases may seem real at first, but all are not. While I haven’t done an empirical study, it’s not wrong to say that roughly 40 to 50 percent of custody disputes are actually unrelated to child custody, “she said in the book.
“The custody petition is just a facade to pursue a hidden agenda that ranges from the revenge of the custody parent’s petition for divorce (a parent in custody of the child) to a counter-explosion against a dowry case to a law-enforcement complaint by the wife against domestic Violence, it could even be pressuring or harassing the wife who filed a maintenance claim for herself and the child.
“Such fake custody battles, where the real intent is to achieve a weird purpose, are wasteful and a burden on the already strained judicial system. It is also physically, mentally and financially exhausting for the other side. And of course, such a lawsuit also puts a strain on the child, ”she wrote.
The book contains various stories from her private diary during her tenure at the family court. It is about the importance of the judiciary as “parens patriae” (public authority of the state / court to intervene against an abusive or negligent parent, legal guardian or informal caretaker) as well as the restrictions of the courts.
“The task of the courts would have been much easier if they had a love knife to measure the love and care that every person should have in their hearts for the child,” wrote Judge Bamba.
The 240-page book has broken legal cases down into simple emotional stories and also talks about the legal process and the laws in layman’s terms.
“Each story had a different emotion. Some were plain and simple angry stories, some very depressed, some hurtful, and some vengeful. At the end of most of these stories, I just found uncertainty. Custody parents are insecure because they fear losing control. The struggles of the parents without custody generally arise from a place of need, a feeling of deprivation, ”the book says.
The judge said watching parents fight and sometimes making ugly accusations against each other was immensely stressful, emotionally and mentally.
“The constant arguments between the parents and the child’s emotional trauma influenced me emotionally. At the end of the day, I just wanted to sit quietly in my room. Mediation and morning walks helped me deal with this, “she said.
“Parents in custody battles don’t want to talk to each other or make themselves understood. You see the other person from their own lenses. For them, their suffering is of the utmost importance. All objectivity is lost. You can barely see the child’s perspective, ”she added.
She said that in addition to psychological trauma, children sometimes developed psychosomatic symptoms and that childhood wounds take a long time to heal.
“Children suffered from obesity, nausea, and pain. You develop trust and engagement problems. Their belief systems are developed based on their childhood trauma. They are affected for a lifetime, ”said Judge Bamba.
While citing a case where one of the parents presented a report by a psychologist in court to show how visits by the other parent harmed the child, the judge wrote that the unavailability of experts / psychologists / psychiatrists in family courts was a limitation .
“It becomes quite a task for the court to reach its own conclusion after such determinations. However, it cannot be ruled out that such reports will be influenced … The unavailability of expert / psychologist / psychiatrist services for family courts is deeply felt in such situations. Then reference must be made to psychiatrist / child psychologist in a government hospital and such an assessment is a lengthy process that requires several sessions with the child, ”the book says.
The book also suggested solutions, from counseling before litigation, workshops for lawyers, to raising awareness of children’s weaknesses and desires, to co-parenting. PTI URD SJK SA