Lies, lies and more lies...

Lies, lies and more lies...

Unfortunately, we do not live in a utopian world, thus, lies are a com­mon feature in our world. Sometimes people lie to get themselves out of trouble, sometimes people lie not to hurt other people’s feelings and sometimes people just lie to spite, hurt and get revenge on other people, especially those who might have hurt them. Unfortunately, the latter is common when it comes to marital separations. Why? Spousal separations are fuelled with emotions: there are heartaches, broken promises, unfulfilled dreams and so on. This is quite common because where once there was love now there is only the mere shadow of it and, at times, that love even becomes hate.

The result of such turbulent emotions is lies. Spouses may lie to get revenge on the other spouse or even to get more material acquisitions. But the worst type of lying is when people lie and use their children to get more access for themselves or lessen access for their spouse or even to get custodial rights – all the time trying to “punish” the other spouse.

Unfortunately, who gets the burnt end of the stick? It is not the other spouse, although, yes, one might be causing never-ending drama and trouble for the other spouse. But, at the end of the day, who is truly suffering? It is not the spouse but the children and it does not matter whether they are old and more mature or whether they are young and still innocent. There will be a certain degree of negative impact on children as the constant and never-ending legal drama and troubles persist.

Most of the times one might declare children are the topmost priority but is it really so? If it were so one would not lie about the children’s parent because, even though the spouses are separating, the children are still theirs and the spouses are first and foremost parents to their children and the constant legal drama and spousal revenge takes its toll on their offspring.

They suffer and they might act out in different ways: become quiet, distant, aggressive. One thing is certain: they suffer.

Some children do not suffer the same as others. It all depends on their parents and how they handle the separation process. When the parents do not let their emotions take the better of them and try to do what is best for them in the circumstances and for their children then, obviously, the children will not suffer as much as they would if they were caught up in a web of lies. The parents have the ultimate responsibility for their children’s upbringing and, even though the spouses might hate each other, still the spouses are parents to their children and if they do take it out on each other the effects are clearly seen on their children.

Most of the time, children are pushed and forced to lie as well and the negative impact of that is huge.

What can be more terrible than to force a child to lie against one parent? Just to spite the other spouse! And what are the reasons? These can be various such as when one might have wanted more access to one’s children or might want to reduce the other spouse’s access to children etc.

Article 9 (1) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says that “States parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will...” and if such separation is necessary, such as when the marriage breaks down and the parents separate, the separation will be carried in such a manner that “ necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child’s place of residence”. Therefore, at the core of spousal separation is the best interests of the children, which is at times almost forgotten and superseded by the never-ending drama caused by the lies against the other parent.

Sub-article 3 of the same article goes on to state that “States parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child’s best interests”. So the new lies that crop up from time to time would not be undermining the other spouse but, ultimately, they would be undermining the children.

The ultimate best interests of the children is not vested in the child advocate, nor in the Family Court, nor in the social worker (although all these do have the best interests of the child at heart) but in the children’s parents. Separation is merely a spousal separation and not a parental separation. Therefore, when spouses separate, for the sake of their children, they ought to keep in mind that lies only harm their children most and the children always get the burnt end of the stick.

Dr Mangion is a lawyer and a published author with a special interest in family and child law.

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