Father loses parental responsibility appeal

Children|Divorce|Family|Family Law|News|August 15th 2013

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

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Comments(10)

  1. Stitchedup says:

    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. …”

    Perhaps the man deeply loved the mother and the child so found it difficult to accept that the relationship was over… time is a good healer and given time the man would most likely begin to accept.

    “the father continues to display narcissistic, paranoid tendencies and remains unable to see issues from any perspective other than his own.”

    So when does having the strength of ones convictions become narcissistic behaviour? It could be said never trust a psychologist. In the hierarchy of narcissism they are on par with family court judges with their narcissistic self believe in being able to judge people without really knowing them.

    As an unmarried man it is easy to become paranoid with regard to the family courts, particularly when it comes to securing parental responsibility.

    “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”.”

    So the man is now only allowed in-direct email contact with his son because he has dared to show dissent towards the family court system not because he actually represents a danger to the child…….Jesus Christ, this is abhorable!! when are the courts going to put the interests of the child before their own anal, narcissistic tendencies? Family law and the parental rights of unmarried men is a complete disaster. The courts are more concerned about securing money for an unmarried mother than maintaining contact between an unmarried father and his child, there’s something seriously wrong with their priorities. It’s hardly surprising men become paranoid and adopt an entrenched attitude against something that is so obviously and repugnantly unfair.

  2. Stitchedup says:

    My earlier contribution appears to have been moderated out, so can I at least say this. I find it abhorable that a father can be labelled in this way just because he has found it hard to deal with the relationship breakdown and lack of parental rights for the child. I assume that the man acted as a parent for a good number of years before the relationship breakdown, then suddenly, at the flick of a switch, he is no longer considered a parent, just a biological sperm donor and human cash point machine. It makes me sick.

    I think it is safe to say that the same psychologist would label any man that shows dissent towards the family court process as “inflexible in his thinking, being egocentric and preoccupied, displaying a certain degree of paranoia” and believing that others are persecuting him.

    The man is fighting for the right to be a father to his child for god sake, and yes this probably does amount to ” attempting to seek to have his needs met by the relationship, albeit in a different form”; the relationship resulted in him becoming a father and he still “needs” to be a father to his child albeit in a different form as he is no longer the partner of the mother. Sounds like the actions of a loving father and perfectly rational human behaviour to me. Unfortunately however, the family courts expect us to view all relationships as disposable. The wife goes through a mid-lifer, allows her head to be turned and calls time on the marriage/relationship. The man is expected to give the shirt off his back, accept no contact with the children and “move-on” singing and rejoicing. Whatever happened to family values and working at a relationship?

  3. JamesB says:

    When mother takes children from school for a day is fine and nothing happens, when father does the same he doesn’t see his kids again. Courts are not even handed when considering parents. Basically they think fathers are bad and mothers are good. That is wrong.

  4. JamesB says:

    If you want a really bad laugh, try applying for a non mol against a woman as a man. You wont have a chance unless the woman is already locked up and then there is no point anyway.

  5. JamesB says:

    These courts are a sick joke.

  6. Stitchedup says:

    James B, unfortunately they are no joke. They can result in you being criminalised you for the most minor of domestic disputes. You could loose your children, your home, your job, your ability to move freely from country and be put in the same category as a violent wife beater or FGM practitioner just for talking to the ex. It’s no joke, it is completely repugnant.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It’s perfectly acceptable for a mother to make false allegations in court, and this is routinely excused by the court on the grounds that she was just emotional. She can then do everything in her power to cancel contact and alienate the child from the father, and this too will be excused as on the same grounds. Contempt of court of whatever kind is practically encouraged.

    Strange that fathers who are going through what is understandably an emotionally difficult time are expected to be perfect.

    Hypocrisy and sexual discrimination in the family courts knows no bounds. And when you call attention to it, you are conveniently labeled paranoid. Wonderful.

  8. Luke says:

    Based on what we have in this case there seems to be no reason at all for the man not to be allowed to at least see his child.
    This seems to be quite an extraordinary decision that’s been made and once again shows that in family court a father’s position is regarded of no real importance. His only real role to them appears to be that of a wallet.

  9. Paul says:

    To “break a butterfly upon a wheel” comes to mind when reading of cases like this, appallingly-handled as they are. Mothers get to abscond to Australia with their child and yet come to no grief on their enforced return while a father who removes his child on whim for a day is summarily sentenced to a gulag where his “contact” is supervised and observed.
    You couldn’t get a starker contrast in the way that fathers are so badly treated by the courts.

    Is it any wonder that occasionally a father will rail and kick out? As for the psychologist, all he describes fall within the normal reactions of people under stress. Did anyone think of approaching this man in a different way – employing trust, understanding and appeal to the greater good perhaps, rather than the distrust and suspicion that is abundantly in evidence here?

    Family court judges should all be handed a copy of Cervantes masterwork and trained in handling human beings so that fathers in an obvious state of conflict don’t start tilting at windmills.

  10. JamesB says:

    What they are saying here is that where there is conflict it is better for the man to be done away with. This exacerbates the problem and makes people – especially women – act more like that. I have seen a lot of this bad behaviour personally and it saddens me and the children.

    I agree with the last post’s sentiment. I also comment, again, that Cafcass are unhelpful labelling the Dad here paranoid and narcissistic. That is a license for trouble the route taken here. It is also lying to put all the blame on him.

    A better solution would be to take the child into care until the adults learn to behave and both parents to pay an equal share of their income to finance it until they come to an agreement between them.

    Labling men as evil makes me very sick and ashamed of the system that we have.

    The family courts and ‘professionals’ (feminists) on this subject are evil and pretending to be good here to suggest that children are better without fathers. The opposite is true and something needs to be done about that. For answers Cafcass and the courts and professionals are not the place to look.

    The ‘professionals’ would be better asking people like me to engage with them rather than calling us names.; for the sake of the children please.

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