The Supreme Court, while delivering a judgment in yet another custody battle between parents, expressed concern about children, the ultimate sufferer in such cases.
Divorce and custody battles can become quagmire and it is heart wrenching to see that the innocent child is the ultimate sufferer who gets caught up in the legal and psychological battle between the parents, said the bench comprising Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Ajay Rastogi.
In the case before the Apex court, as the attempts of mediated settlement failed, the court decided the matter on merits and allowed the mother to take children to United States.
Negotiated Settlements In Child Custody Disputes Preferable
However, the court observed that a child's future relationship with each of his parents may be better maintained and his existing relationship is less damaged by a negotiated settlement than by one imposed by a court after adversarial proceedings. The court said:
"The judicial resolution of a custody dispute may permanently affect or even end the parties' legal relationship but the social and psychological relationship will usually continue and it seems appropriate that a negotiated resolution between the parents is preferable from the child's perspective for several reasons. A child's future relationship with each of his parents may be better maintained and his existing relationship is less damaged by a negotiated settlement than by one imposed by a court after adversarial proceedings."
Overcome Disharmony For Sake Of Children
The court gave further advise to the 'fighting' parents:
"Spouses must come over the temperamental disharmony which usually exists in every marriage, rather than magnifying it with impulsive desires and passions. Parents are not only caretakers, but they are instrumental in the development of their child's social, emotional, cognitive and physical well-being and work harmoniously to give their children a happy home to which they are justly entitled to. "
The court also observed that a child's psychological balance is deeply affected through the marital disruption. It said:
"The eventful agreement about custody may often be a reflection of the parents' interests, rather than the child's. The issue in a child custody dispute is what will become of the child, but ordinarily the child is not a true participant in the process. While the best interests principle requires that the primary focus be on the interests of the child, the child ordinarily does not define those interests himself or does he have representation in the ordinary sense.. The child's psychological balance is deeply affected through the marital disruption and adjustment for changes is affected by the way parents continue positive relationships with their children. To focus on the child rights in case of parental conflict is a proactive step towards looking into this special situation demanding a specific articulation of child rights."
Though it decided the case on merits, the bench said that it hopes that the parents will forget and forgive their differences and join hands together in providing the congenial atmosphere which may be good not for themselves but also for the development of their minor children.