Judge praised over letter to children explaining custody decision

August 22 2017, 5.13pmUpdated: August 23 2017, 12.07am
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A judge has been praised after taking the unusual step of writing to children involved in a custody battle about her decision.

Sheriff Aisha Anwar had been charged with making the decision as to whether a father could have access to his children, who had told a specialist they no longer wanted to see him.

The case at Glasgow Sheriff Court resulted in a ruling that he should remain in contact, so the sheriff wrote to the children explaining why.

She said: “I think that as my decision is all about you, it is only fair that I should write to you. I have not met you, but I have heard a lot about you.

“I know, from what your mum and (the specialist in the case) have told me, that you don’t want to see your dad.

“I can understand that. Your dad’s job is to care for you, protect you, love you, help you, make good plans for you and to know what is right for you. Sometimes, he has not been very good at that.”

Sheriff Anwar went on to explain, having spoken to their father, she believes he is not a bad parent but instead does not know how to act sometimes.

In the letter, she explained both parents would receive help to build a better relationship and work on their behaviour.

Sheriff Anwar added: “I don’t think that it is good for you to grow up thinking you have a bad dad. I don’t think that it is good for you to forget all the good times.

” I think that it is better for you to get to know your dad again and to give him a chance to make things better.”

The move has been praised by family law specialists, and calls have been made for similar steps to be taken in future.

Janys Scott, QC, chairwoman of the Faculty of Advocates’ Family Law Association, said: “The letter from Sheriff Anwar to the children is the Scottish courts at their best.

“She has not only made the decision she considers is in the children’s best interests, but she has thought carefully how to explain it to them, so they know why she has made this decision.

“She was clearly keen to avoid either parent giving them a partisan view of her decision, but more than that, she was concerned that, after a difficult and distressing litigation, this family had the best foundation she could give them for future more positive relationships. It would be great were this a pattern for future cases.”

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