Contact order enforcement not a human right, says European Court

Children|Family Law|News|January 10th 2013

A father from Andorra has lost his claim that failure to enforce a child contact order breached his human rights.

The man and his former partner separated in Andorra in 2005, with the mother granted custody. The family court established a contact order for the father.

However, the contact was suspended the following year pending the completion of a psychological report in relation to claims that the troubled relationship between the parents was affecting the children. When eventually produced in 2008, the report recommended that contact with the father should not take place until the children had completed a course of treatment and the contact was again suspended.

The treatment did not take place as the father failed to pay a required sum of money. Instead he appealed unsuccessfully, eventually taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), saying his rights under Articles 6 and 8  of the European Convention on Human Rights had been breached.

Article 6 governs the right to a fair trial or hearing, and article 8 to respect for private or family life.

The ECHR dismissed his claim, ruling on the specific issue of Article 8 that:

“…in the particular circumstances of the case the domestic authorities did not fail to fulfil their positive obligations under Article 8 of the Convention. The Court appreciates that the domestic courts always had the best interests of the children in mind and relied on expert reports and other objective evidence when they decided to suspend the contact schedule set up in favour of the applicant.”

Photo of the Andorran parliament by lorentey via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence

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