5 Feb 2010

Role of lawyers in Child custody cases

Redefining the role to be played by lawyers in Child Custody cases, the Delhi High Court in a recent decision has sought the Bar to play restraint and consider the best interests of child and family instead of allowing the claims for customs of child to be turned into fiercly fought battles similar to other litigated disputes. 

The High Court observed;
13. Before parting with this case, I would like to comment on the role to be played by the Bar in such matters. Regretfully, it has been found that the Bar is taking the guardianship cases in the same way as any other fiercely contested adversarial litigation; though it ought not to be so. The members of the Bar can in such litigations play a very positive role. Rather than advising their respective clients to take up accusatory and aggressive positions and building cases out of the figments of their imagination and their experience, they ought to apply a soothing balm to the aching hearts with which the parents reach them. It is the lawyers who without being the alter ego of their respective clients should encourage them to avoid taking pleas of one upmanship over the other and advice the warring parents that such adversarial litigation over custody is not in the interest of the child. Rather than the courts making orders for interim visitation / custody, the rules / parameters whereof are by now well settled as also apparent from the judgments cited by the counsel for the respondent, the members of the Bar should advise their clients accordingly. Instead of advising their clients that the child should not meet the other parent at all, they should advise them to allow the child to meet and interact with both the parents freely and also explain that such an approach bears the imprimatur of the Courts. If the members of the Bar play such a constructive role there will be no need to call the children to the courts which is of course to their prejudice or for them to witness the verbal duel between the counsels of their parents in the courts. There would similarly be no need to force such meetings in the presence of the Duty Magistrate or through the medium of the police as is often being found to be resorted to.

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