A father who unsuccessfully applied for parental responsibility has lost his appeal against the dismissal of his case.
In PM v MB & Anor, the father of an 11 year-old, called M in case reports, separated from the mother. The father had some contact with the child but broke this off, later removing the boy from school without permission for a day. This was described as a “defining incident” in the man’s relationship with his former family. Subsequently the father saw his son at a contact centre.
During subsequent hearings, the father refused to participate, sought permission to withdraw from the case and left the court. The judge granted residence of the child to the mother and the father has not seen the boy since that time. The judge also made a ‘section 91(14) order’.
Issued under the Children Act 1989, section 91(14) orders bar people from making applications for legal orders relating to children without prior permission from the courts. They usually have a specific time limit attached.
Following an earlier appeal, the order was set aside and the father made a fresh application for parental responsibility and direct in person contact with his son.
But sitting at Sheffield County Court, His Honour Judge Jones dismissed the application, concluding that the father was uncooperative and had developed an “entrenched and blinkered attitude”.
A psychologist had described him as:
“…an individual who is rigid and inflexible in his thinking, being egocentric and preoccupied, displaying a certain degree of paranoia……He believes that others are persecuting him, being unable to reflect upon his own actions or responsibility…”
The psychologist added:
“When his relationship with the mother broke down, the father struggled to accept this, remaining enmeshed, attempting to seek to have his needs met by the relationship, albeit in a different form. …the father continues to display narcissistic, paranoid tendencies and remains unable to see issues from any perspective other than his own.”
The judge said there should be indirect email contact between father and son only.
Sitting at the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Ryder considered views expressed by M, who said he did not currently wish to see his father and was afraid he would be angry with him. The father had also expressed the view that his case was “a crusade that he would never give up”.
The judge emphasised case law stating that parental responsibility could not be automatically granted to unmarried fathers – and would not, for example, be given if they posed a risk to the child.
Lord Justice Ryder could not fault the earlier ruling by Judge Jones and dismissed the father’s appeal.
Photo by Elliott Brown via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence