Father in custody dispute imprisoned for contempt of court

Children|Family Law|News|October 2nd 2013

The father of three boys has been imprisoned for contempt of court after repeatedly failing to obey a court order and return them to Ireland.

The boys had been living in Dundalk, Ireland, with their mother while the father lived in England. The youngest was aged 11, and he had twin older brothers aged 13. In November last year they came to England with their mother to attend a wedding and visited their father. However, when she attempted to take them back to Ireland the father would not agree to them going. They have been living with him ever since.

The mother began proceedings under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Their father claimed the children did not wish to return to Ireland but the courts were unpersuaded, and he was ordered to return the children to Ireland by March 1 this year.

They did not leave, and the father returned to court in April. A complex series of proceedings followed, during which the father repeatedly failed to return the boys to their mother.

Eventually the judge ordered the children to be collected by a tipstaff (court officer). But when the officer went to the family’s home it became clear that the boys did not wish to leave.

The court appointed a legal guardian for the boys, who recommended that they be returned to the their mother because they had been caught in an “emotional whirlpool”, even though they said they wished to stay with their father. Another attempt to collect the children from the father’s house was made, but the boys were missing. The tipstaff brought the father back to court.

High Court judge Mr Justice Bodey concluded:

“…[I]t is really inconceivable that he [the father] does not know where the children are. I am sure he does know where they are, or at least that he knows how they can be contacted and located….I find him to be in contempt in not giving the court the assistance which the court required of him.”

The father was sent to prison for six months, but also given the opportunity to purge [clear] his contempt hearing the following week by apologising and cooperating with the court orders. The judge said the mother would have to make a fresh application for the return of the children and the father could face a further prison sentence if he failed to cooperate with this.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    When the child’s wishes and feelings suit the court, they are proclaimed to be all-important. When they don’t suit the ulterior motives of the court, they are ignored.

    We’ve seen so many sickening cases of the courts utterly disregarding the children’s wishes to have a relationship with their dads.

    What will the British courts not do to demonize dads who are simply trying to protect their children?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Also, when was the last time a mom was imprisoned for doing the same? I don’t think there was a ‘last time’, because so many financial incentives exist to enable moms to act in contempt of court, and judges encourage this.

  3. Tulsa Divorce Lawyer Matt Ingham says:

    This punishment seems kind of harsh, but then again I am not the judge.

  4. Luke says:

    “Also, when was the last time a mom was imprisoned for doing the same? ”

    That’s a good question, Marilyn raised a case previously where a mother had been breaking a contact order continuously for over a year – with a 5 year old – still nothing had been done so that the father could actually see his child.
    When it comes to punishment there does seem to be a double standard that operates against fathers.

  5. Stitchedup says:

    It generally takes a lot to get a woman imprisoned. They are far less likely to be imprisoned than men and will usually be given a suspended sentence in the first instance.

    Here’s recent article form my local paper:


    Imagine the consequences if he man had done the same thing to the woman.

    By the way, the woman received less community hours than I did. Her 150 hours for glassing a man, me 250 hours for talking to my ex…. hmmm that makes sense doesn’t it.

  6. Singledad says:

    If you do a bit of research you will actually notice that women receive lighter sentences than men FOR ANY CRIME! It’s a shocking revelation but you don’t hear about it due to feminism. People need to wake up and realise the problem is not just bias of mothers against fathers, it is total bias in favour of one gender at the exclusive expense of the other. Sexism is RIFE. Anyone who tries to discredit this is literally earning money from it or hopes to in the near future. There is no such thing as equality. The court has put the children at risk by putting their primary (albeit temporary) carer in jail. They would NEVER do this to a woman.

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