Subjectivity and family law

‘It is not uncommon in contested family proceedings that one side, and occasionally both sides, are of the opinion that the judge’s decision was wrong.’  So says Judge Jeremy Lea, the bloke at the centre of the Samantha Baldwin family law case.  And just like that he invites the public to swallow whole the court line on Samantha Baldwin.

Many will, because it sounds quite compelling. Twelve day fact finding trial. Fourteen witnesses. Two thousand pages of documents. Competent council for all parties. What’s not to like? Other than the outcome.

With a wave of his gavel, Judge Lea stamps all over the public perception of Samantha Baldwin by releasing a limited amount of information into the public domain. Enough to make you shake your head in disbelief. Not enough to allow you make an informed opinion, but that’s his job.

So what did Judge Lea actually say today? In short – He doesn’t believe Samantha Baldwin and by inference, the children she is speaking for. In what appears to be a particularly gruesome move, he also chooses to believe that the indisputable drug traces found in the boys’ system were put there by Samantha Baldwin herself. So there you have it folks! Samantha Baldwin’s bat shit crazy! That’s why the state had to steal her kids.

For a minute there, it seemed to be suggested that the Family courts were regularly transferring custody from caring, protective mothers to paedo dads. But that is not the case here. It reminded a lot of people of the Rebecca Minnock case. Same idea. Pockets of the public thought that was about a paedo dad and a loving mum, until the judge put them right. She wasn’t crazy though, more ‘manipulative and attention seeking’. It even reminded some people of the Victoria Haigh case. Another mother claiming her daughter had been sexually abused by her father. Not a runaway mother, Victoria Haigh was just a very defiant one. She was named and shamed and her ex given custody and exonerated. What all these women have in common is how little information was ever released into the public domain about their stories, and how censored and edited the released data was.

Thus a carefully cultivated, if tired image emerges. Crazy lady with massive chip on her shoulder accuses doting dad of unspeakable acts. That is the family court default position every time news gets out that all is not well behind those gilded, closed doors.

What anyone who has ever seriously supported Samantha Baldwin needs to remember is nothing has changed. The woman who ran to protect her children because she was desperate and left without choice has not changed, nor have her motives for running. All that has happened is the man who forced her to run has released a public statement saying, that after listening to twelve days of testimony and submissions, in his subjective opinion, also known as a family court judgement, he doesn’t believe her.

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