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Children suffer most in divorce cases

Thursday, December 06, 2018
By Shrikant Khuperkar. Photograph by Santosh Gupta

But mediation can help a lot, says family court judge

A simple idea of playing games helps children understand as well as cope with stressful situations, as family court Judge Aruna G Pharaswani showed last weekend at Thane. Pharaswani had organised a programme on awareness of mediation, which was attended by both, parents and children. The games kept the children entertained and also helped in bonding. One of the games was to tie knots in a thread to show how long the father and the mother can spend with them. This was one of the best messages for parents, said Pharaswani.

Games and dance organised with the help of an NGO kept the children happy, in an atmosphere which very often has a background of tension and even violence. The mediation programme which followed this relaxing exercise began with the prayer... 'Itni shakti hamein dena Daata'.

Advocate Raj Nalge said that mediation is a very good method of resolving conflicts, especially in today's nuclear families where the older generation is often not around to help the husband and wife come to an amicable solution. Families waste a lot of time and energy fighting, instead of taking the help of a mediator.

Advocate Prakash Bhosle said mediation is a time-honoured method, and has even been cited in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Rulers also used mediation to bring about peace among their subjects. When a couple are involved in a serious quarrel, often they don't realise the ensuing effects on their children. With more and more working couples keeping their children in child care while they are at work, it is also difficult to know how the child is being affected. A mediator, being a neutral third party, can explain to them how their behaviour can harm their children, and can encourage the couple to think about ways to resolve their conflict before going to court.

Advocate Digambar Gaud quoted an old saying, “A wise person should never climb the steps of a court or a hospital.” It is easy to give such advice but only the person who is suffering those problems knows why he wants to climb those steps.

Judge Pharaswani said family is important and we should save the family first. “Whatever the matter is, every problem has a solution.” Citing a case pending from 2013, she said the advocate had told her that there is no solution for this problem. But she made him understand that there is some solution or the other for every problem.

She added, “A child is the responsibility of both parents and he has the right to be loved by both father and mother. One parent cannot deny the responsibility of a child; a child cannot be divided into two equal parts.”

Why do cases remain pending? Some instances:
Our correspondent spoke to some family members who had attended the session. In one case pending for 10 years, the husband had demanded a divorce when his wife was pregnant. “My son does not even recognise his father, so how will he speak to him?” said the woman (names have been omitted for privacy). She said that after she agreed to the divorce, she was in another relationship and her ex-husband had gone to court again, claiming that she had not informed the court about her second relationship, which was not even relevant.

Sometimes, both sides have a point and only a judge can decide. In one case the wife said that her husband would come home drunk and beat her regularly, and that was why she wanted a divorce. Her husband said he had met his daughter after three years and she did not recognise him. “I want to settle this case but my wife is demanding a large amount which I cannot afford, so the case is pending,” he said.

In every case, it is the child who gets hurt the most. A woman in a mutual-consent divorce, who has been coming to court for the last two and a half years, has an 11-year-old daughter. “I am staying separately and I always ask my husband to come and meet his daughter and spend some time with her. But he never comes.”

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