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Friday, 02 April 2010

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Imogen

As the child of divorced parents who spent much of my early teens in a similar situation to Alex and Juliette’s children, I find your interpretation of the documentary misses the nuances of their relationship in favour of a simple man good woman bad dichotomy.

What particularly bothered me was the attitude towards the single child who did not want to spend the weekend at his Dad’s with the others. I really felt Alex disregarded any notion that the child himself might have not wanted to go, instead believing it was a plot by his mother. I’ve done alternating-weekend visits. Sometimes, you just don’t want to go. With siblings involved, sometimes you want one-on-one time with your parent. It won't necessarily be at the most appropriate time.

Alex managed to make the absence of one child more important than the presence of the other three. He asked them (dragging them into questions they didn’t understand the full implications of) when Mummy was going to ‘let’ the other child come. Why wasn’t he here. Children, even very young ones, do understand when they are setting up the other parent for a fall. No wonder they had no idea how to answer.

The holiday debacle was also made worse by the fact that when he was told he could have them for seven days, he booked to take them for nine. These kind of post-marriage relationships develop slowly, and both sides have to trust each other. If you take an inch-and-a-half when you are given an inch, it makes things harder. Two extra days, or forgetting to make a phone call when you get there (as in Angela's case), mean a lot when one side’s trust that the other side can stick to an agreement is riding on them. It is hypocritical to moan about the other side ignoring your wishes (even in the form of a court order) if you ignore theirs.

Finally, your comment about Juliette’s ‘Harmanesque’ behaviour really irked me. Would you prefer that she constantly went on about how she couldn’t function without a man, didn’t run her own business and lived off child support? Standing alone after a long partnership is not easy for anyone. There is no need to berate someone for trying.

Nobody ever behaves perfectly in these kind of divorce proceedings. All of the parents we saw behaved unreasonably in one way or another. To divide them into absolute saints or sinners does not advance thinking about how to resolve these problems. Being the child in this situation has taught me that parents need to stop talking about how well they’re treating their children and how badly the other parent is, and start actually doing it.

John Kimble

Given that the court ordered the mother to release the children for the holiday then the length of time was clearly reasonable as the agreement was 7 days "or thereabouts". Further still, if you watch the programme you'll note he takes the advice of his female friend and decides to back down and agree to just seven days AND informs her of the exact location yet she still says no. It quite clearly is a case of "man good woman bad." Or to be strictly accurate it's an case of man good/average (under immense pressure/provocation) and woman an absolute disgrace. On the evidence of the programme she really is not fit to be the main custodial parent.

The absence of one child was not an minor issue as you pretend. It was a clear, unnannounced and unagreed breach of a court order. Imagine what would have happened if Alex just decided to return three kids one week instead of four? You complain about the extra day's holiday yet somehow this behaviour is acceptable. And it should be noted it wasn't a one off AND she has an au pair thus can have one one one time whenever she wants. It was just another method of attacking Alex.

I completely disagree with your last sentence - three the parents in the programme did their very best to be reasonable. There might have been the odd mistake in heat of the moment but they all clearly had their children's best interest at heart.

Juliette's behaviour was indeed Harmanesque and if anything that statement's unfair to Harman. I wasn't suggesting that she should state she couldn't function without a man, nor was I critiquing her finances. All she should do is to just stop being so sexist and discriminatory (particularly with four male children around) and recongnise that the children have a right and a need to see their father.

Thanks for commenting. I think most people would disagree with your views of Juliette though. For example take a look at this discussion:

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=1237930

Amfortas

An excellent report JK. And as far as I can see, a fair one.

Imogen sees things differently, perhaps through her own experience, and acts as 'advocate'. While advocating for one side or another, as a lawyer does, is not unusual it is usual in its ignoring the direct observation and filtering through one's own emotional screen.

Saying,'this or that happened to me', has no material bearing. Yet it is precisely that subjectivity that is one-sidedly encouraged and facilitated in the FC.

Steve, London

Juliette's praise for the boy who stayed at home (in breach of the court order), saying how special he was, and what a special time they would have (when the boy knew it was his Dad's custody period) was completely abusive. She was setting her boy up against his Dad, she was teaching him he was more special BECAUSE he wasn't with his Dad, she was teaching her other boys that they were LESS special than the boy who stayed with her, and ultimately she was destroying the relationship of all of her children with their other parent - SHOCKINGLY AWFUL!

Daveyone

In fact you don't as I have reported in my blog Degree Absolute (purpose typo) that is the one with a picture of Gloria Hunniford at the top and as did Bob Berman with his Ontario Divorce.com ( Renewed this week) and I said £500 ( Bob $500) was the max you should have to pay, for a consultation at a solicitors, and a single court appearance to settle everything, contact, finances property the lot and the initial £500 to be legal aid to both parties and that is the limit! If either one of them wants to return matters to court then they have to pay themselves, you watch a sudden dip in their services, yet I still believe the TRUE best interests of the kids would be served as it would dissuade conflict and not send Dad bankrupt!!

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