In children proceedings, it is not unusual for the court to ask a professional (maybe a social worker or a court welfare officer) to see your child and obtain their views on the area of dispute – whether that is where they should live or how long they spend with each parent.
I can only imagine how it feels to have your child spoken to when you are not there and worry about what they may say or, worse, what you think they have been pressurised/ bribed to say by the other parent. You may also be worried that what they do say may be misinterpreted by the professional or perhaps even misrepresented.
What should you do?
First of all what shouldn’t you do – you shouldn’t set about planting a recording device on the child and seeking to rely upon the recording in court. In a cautionary recent judgment a parent who had done just this – sewing a recording device into the school uniform of his child on the days when he knew that professionals were to see the child at school – was heavily criticised.
Not only did the court find that it indicated that the parent may not be able to meet the child’s emotional needs (being very conscious of the fact that at some stage the child would have to be told that their school day including their personal conversations with friends had been recorded) but also ordered the parent to pay the costs of the other (around £10,000).
In terms of what a parent should do? I would recommend that they take advice from an experienced children solicitor who could guide them through the issues of parental pressure/alienation and concerns about court professionals and the way that they must prepare their reports for the court and interview children.
If you need advice in relation to children or family law matters, please contact us to speak to one of our family law solicitors.