Sheriff Aisha Y Anwar has taken the unusual step of publishing a letter to the children of a couple involved in an acrimonious Contact case.
In a Proof that lasted 11 days, the Sheriff heard from the parties, various family professionals, a Detective Constable, who conducted interviews of the older children in relation to allegations of sexual abuse and a clinical psychologist specialising in working with children.
On commenting on the evidence, the Sheriff said “I regret that I found chapters of the evidence of both the defender and the pursuer to be largely self-serving. I had concerns regarding the reliability and credibility of the parties’ account of events. Their account of events was filtered through a prism of animosity and hostility. They very clearly continue to bear a great deal of ill will towards each other and neither was willing to give the other the benefit of the doubt. There were bitter reprisals and allegations and counter allegations throughout the parties’ evidence.”
Given the deterioration in the relationship between the father and the children, a hearing was held to determine how matters should be taken forward in the event of Contact being awarded. At that hearing, the parties agreed:
- that the pursuer (the father) would undertake the Triple P Parenting course;
- that a psychologist would be instructed by both parties, to work with the children, to assist them to develop a relationship with the pursuer, with the pursuer meeting the expenses of her appointment;
- that the parties would work with family therapists, as a precursor to mediation, with each party meeting their own costs;
- and that thereafter, both parties would instruct a mediator, with the pursuer meeting the costs of her appointment.
Dr Khan, the clinical psychologist involved in the case “… explained that it was important for the children, who hold entrenched views, to understand that the court had considered all of the information and had decided what was best for the children, and why. She explained that it was important for the children to hear the decision from a neutral third person, who was not allied to either parent.”
Sheriff Anwar attached the text of the letter to her judgement and instructed Dr Khan to read the letter to the two older children. You can read the full text of the letter here.