Judge dismisses allegations made by mother in bitter divorce dispute

Children|Divorce|October 10th 2013

The High Court has dismissed a number of allegations made by a mother involved in an acrimonious child residence dispute.

The recently published case of TB v DB concerned a couple who married in 2005. Their son, called ‘D’ in the judgement, was born in 2007 but the couple split in 2009. The mother, ‘DB’, left the couple’s home with the child without telling her estranged husband where she was going. She lived with relatives and in women’s refuges before moving to Cambridgeshire.

The father, ‘TB’, applied to be told where she was and to see his son. A contact order was issued in October 2009 but he was not able to actually see the boy until June the following year. The visit took place at a contact centre. Various hearings regarding contact followed, and the father made undertakings, including that he would not drink alcohol before seeing his son.

A month before unsupervised contact was due to begin, the mother alleged that he had been violent towards her and plans for the man to see his son unsupervised were postponed. A complex series of hearings followed. Eventually, in January last year, the courts made a shared residence order – “the intention being that neither parent would have priority or primacy over the other”, noted Judge Michael Keehan QC.

In April D stayed with his father for nine days. Not long afterwards, the woman claimed that a remark made by the boy had led her to believe her ex-partner’s brother, ‘SB’, was sexually abusing the child.

A similar conversation allegedly took at the home of a friend of hers two days later, but Judge Keehan was unconvinced by either account at a High Court fact-finding hearing.

He said the mother had persisted in her questions even when the boy denied her suggestions.

He was also sceptical of the conversation that supposedly took place the home of DB’s friend., ‘JN’. She had, he said, delivered her evidence “with a high degree of passionate fervour”, but he “simply did not believe her”.

Subsequent conversations about the incident had featured “ill-informed, unregulated and “aggressive” questioning.”

The allegations were subsequently reported to the police on a number of occasions and contact between father and son was eventually suspended.

The father’s brother, SB, was arrested but denied the allegations and police accepted his claims, deciding not to refer the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The case eventually reached the High Court, where Judge Keehan was asked to consider whether the mother’s various allegations were true or not. He found against on her on all the points raised.

He described the mother as

“…all too ready to assume and to interpret the events with the worst possible connotation. I also find that by her actions of making allegations to the police and the Local Authority from time to time… her purpose and intent was to stop, disrupt and minimise the father’s contact to D.”

He noted that her various allegations of violence by TB and SB “have either not been made in statements but have subsequently been reported to the police or to the Local Authority or earlier allegations have increased in severity from that first reported.”

A claim of rape made during the fact-finding hearing had not appeared in previous court findings. The judge said of DB:

“I…do not understand how she could in her evidence assert that it was her desire to sit and talk through problems with the father when she has never done so in the past and, as has been demonstrated, her first recourse is not to apply to this court but to go to police and Social Services.”

He concluded:

“…this mother did not hesitate to put the most sinister of explanations to what her four year old was saying and did her utmost to thwart the father’s contact and his relationship with his beloved son. I regret to find that her actions were not borne of acting in D’s best interests but were part of her concerted and long-standing campaign against the father.”

 

Author: Stowe Family Law

Comments(6)

  1. Luke says:

    I don’t see the Judge doing anything except the obvious here.

    She had never claimed child abuse by a relative before – and then took the child away and unilaterally ended contact for the father and son.

    When the father applies to the court to see his son and gets access she suddenly comes up with child abuse by his relative, even though the boy denies it and according to everybody she produces no evidence for the allegation whatsoever !

    Remember this claim originally worked for her, the boy was for a time not allowed to see his father. If I was the relative I would be asking the Police to prosecute her for malicious false allegations because mud sticks…

  2. Paul says:

    According to that leading light in social policy development and family studies, Liz Trinder, the Children Act is an act of kindness.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/feb/06/no-bias-against-fathers-childrens-act

    And certainly it is kind to this mother and countless others who make false allegations, devastate a fathers’ lives and are neglectful of their children’s true emotional needs. Rarely does anything of consequence ever happen. They remain free to wield their malign influence.

    Would a father end up with a shared residence order, were he to act in this way and devastate a mother’s life?

  3. Tulsa Divorce Lawyer Matt Ingham says:

    Based on what Luke commented, the judge jhas to rule according to the evidence. Where there is no evidence of abuse, the judge cannot and should not rule to the contrary.

  4. Name Witheld says:

    This is mental and emotional child abuse, not to mention the stress suffered by the father.
    I went through a similar thing only with worse allegations against me over a three year period an 12 visits to court.
    All allegations and assertions by the mother against me were found to be false, what deterrent did she suffer after being found out time and time again to have mislead the court?
    NONE!
    So as far as I’m concerned the courts have brought this on themselves, if the children suffer, I’m sure no one in the family court system or our politicians will lose a moments sleep over a bit of child abuse when one is protecting mothers rights!!

  5. Malcolm Lochhead says:

    So… the judge is basically saying she lied to the court, attempted to wreck the father’s life and the child’s relationship with one parent. And she suffered absolutely no penalty whatsoever.

    Does that mean it’s legal to make these serious false allegations in a family court? Or is it not legal but the courts just turn a blind eye to the law?

  6. Name Witheld says:

    Such false allegations are encouraged by some solicitors and implicitly condoned by the court. I had contact proceedings and when M changed solicitor after two years suddenly there appeared a string of false allegations on domestic violence. When pressed on fact finding, they suddenly became ‘not something M wants to pursue or rely upon in court’, but they were still used in statements throughout to colour the judges view.

    A friend was accused of abuse of his child by his ex when they split, with the result that his contact was reduced to 3 hours a week in a supervised contact centre. After 5 years of this the mother actually stated the allegations were false. He was then able to see his child under normal circumstances, but she received no penalty for robbing him and his child of that time, not to mention all the associated stigma and pain for them both.

    In general, F gets what M is willing to offer in terms of relationship with the child. Which they are told by solicitors is contact 2 days out of every 14, less if allegations are made, whether they’re true or not. If M is well represented that is what the court endorses. And even that may not work in practice as the courts rarely enforce their own orders, they hardly ever penalise M. Parental alienation and implacable hostility is rife because it is encouraged by solicitors and ignored by the court.

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