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Court terminates father’s parental responsibility after domestic violence

The High Court has terminated a man’s legal responsibility for his children after he was imprisoned for repeated domestic violence.

A v D concerned the mother of two half siblings. Her partner, the father of one of the children, had been violent to her on several occasions, and the children had witnessed some of these incidents. Eventually she fled her home with the children, and the building was then burgled. A police car stationed outside the building in response to her concerns was set on fire. The man was arrested and jailed.

With her former partner now in prison, the woman went to court and applied for a <a href=”, specifying that the man’s four-year old child should live with her. She also applied to change the child’s names– given names and surname  – and asked the court to end the father’s parental responsibility (legal rights as a parent).

She was now living in a secret address and had taken security advice from the police. The man’s four year old child, meanwhile, had developed emotional and social problems.

The jailed father did not oppose the application and said he would not attend the hearing. He did, however, write to the court to say he not quality for legal aid and so could not hire a solicitor to represent him.

However, he had not clearly expressed consent, as is normally required by law, so court officials and Cafcass attempted to contact him in jail and offer to have his views represented. But he still refused to co-operate.

The Cafcass officer assigned to the case, meanwhile, supported the woman’s application.

Sitting at the Family Division, Mr Justice Roderic Wood said the circumstances of the case were such that it would be right to approve the mother’s applications. When the man left jail, he was likely to try and locate the mother and her children, putting them at serious risk. If he retained parental responsibility, they would still have to deal with him, which would be highly disruptive. Changing the children’s names would help to protect their new family home.

Granting the mother a residence order would provide legal recognition for the reality of the family’s new situation, and provide the mother with some sense of security.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Paul says:

    What a total load of b.llocks, though utterly predictable given the present state of play in family law. For a start even where fathers have parental responsibility everyone routinely ignores it, let alone the mother. So why crucify this man? What does he have left?

    This is an outrageous decision. Where has prisoner rehabilitation gone? This is taking a child clean out of his father’s life for good.

    • Anna says:

      Well in some cases this should happen.. For instance I was with my partner for 3years, I then fell pregnant in around May 2011 as my 12 week scan approached he started to change getting more aggressive and verbley abusive.. shouting at me more pushing me about calling me very nasty names, pulling my hair and telling me there was nothing I could do. he then stopped me talking to friends and family as he didn’t want me to tell any1 how he was Being with me and his children. As time passed I was only aloud out with him not by my self I’d looked after his kids from been 10months old I was 16 just turning 17 when the years passed he became more aggressive more violent more controlling more scary and my son was nearly born Id been beaten up ie hair pulled my dinner taken off me and fed to my dogs as I didn’t deserve it. Head put under water while pregnant he’d show me up I front off friends when we’d go out. I then had my son four weeks early due to the stress off it all and not been able to talk to any1 what I was going though. Time passed and I asked if we could stay with my parents after having my son as I had over 400 stitches and was scared to be alone with 3 children and him, he agreed, things settled down for a while but he still didn’t help take notice off any off his children as that’s what I was for? He’d shout at me while my parents were out and still not let me eat only when family were there to watch, he tryed to kill my dogs to spite me. He’d call me nasty names to upset me and slap me about when no1 was in.. He would call me horrid descusting names be coz off lady problems after having a child he’d the refuse to help me sort my self out.. and then as weeks passed he packed my bag and dragged me down my parents stairs I front off his kids and my little brother n sister screaming he will get me home once I was home he did what he had to do strangle me pull my hair out call me names, as months started to pass and things got incredibly worse, I plucked up the courage to ask him to leave my house as I could no longer go on!! He said no and there was nothing I could do, so I had to tell my dad, the brutal beatings got a lot worse he’d tryed to suffer care me in dog poo he held my head under water in the bath he’d started to punch me instead off slapping, but he still wouldn’t move out my house I’d let him see our son as I want him to have a dad as thing got worse I then started foning the police as he was breaking into my home checking my reciprs stealing out my purse to feed his weed habit than was going though the roof ! Checking my dirty washing taking food from my house.. He then beat me in front off friends while holding my son and banging my head off every wall in our living room, he tryed on more than one occasion taking out son with nothing he was beast feed n refused to care! This went in till jan 2012 I was past my self I’d moved back in with parents because he was stalking my home watching me though window s .. By august i met my partener whom I am with now we took things very slow n my ex still saw his son only because I want him to have a dad. Social services decline him off having contact with my son n he got charged with domestic voilance and bailed.. That ment HIM Back in our lives so I moved out off our village because he kept trying to tourcher my home! We are now in 2014 and he’s had no contact with my son since he was 6month may 2012.. But keeps treAting me and trying to take my son out off my care he’s started again to tourcher my home threaten to kill me my partener n new premature baby? How is this right ? And he still gets to keep all his parental rights. Something has got to be done? I’ve recently offerd him contact at my mums house where I won’t be but our son will be there and he doesn’t want it because I won’t be there ! He doesn’t deserve to be a dad! And how long do I get tourchered for ?? This man doesn’t deserve rights?

    • Tanty_tiara says:

      Excuse me Mr Paul. You clearly don’t have a clue as to what abused women suffer. Nothing was taken away from him, he chucked it all away by being abusive. If he cared enough, he would have been mature enough to care for his family like many good fathers out there. In summary your comment was bollocks, nothing else.

  2. Tulsa Divorce Lawyer Matt Ingham says:

    Good call hear. Terminate his rights so that the mother and the children can move forward with their lives.

  3. Stitchedup says:

    Is this article deliberately vague??

    “repeated domestic violence” – how often?

    “Her partner, the father of one of the children, had been violent to her on several occasions had been violent to her on several occasions,” -Again how many occasions and in what way was he violent??

    “building was then burgled” – by who?

    “A police car stationed outside the building in response to her concerns was set on fire” – by who?

    “The man was arrested and jailed” – for what and for how long??

    “She was now living in a secret address and had taken security advice from the police” – Her choice, what does that have to do with the price of eggs??

    “The man’s four year old child, meanwhile, had developed emotional and social problems.” – Perhaps the child misses his/her father?

    I don’t mean to be facetious, but it’s easy for a woman to crate an impression, all she has to do is claim she feels intimidated or threatened. DV can mean name calling and the man could have been sent to prison just for talking to his ex. She can choose to leave the house and live with a man she’s been having an affair with, keep this a secret and then ask the police for advice security advice simply because she doesn’t want her ex to know what she’s really been up to.

    Lots of smoke where’s the fire???

    The outcome, as Paul has already pointed out, is completely predictable. Prisoner rehab in this instance is to experience complete excommunication.

    • Andrea says:

      It’s not about a father’s or mother’s rights it’s about putting the child’s needs and rights first. As I have been subjected to violence with my ex partner over a period of years and reported it but it continued as he exercised his parental rights.

      Years later my ex was finally witnessed assaulting me that coupled with the photos of the assault lead him to have s criminal record . Yet he comes in and out my child’s life exercising his parental life from time to time having negative impact on my son everytime .

      Mothers get bad press about using children as weapons against fathers well this is rare. Often it’s the case mother put their children’s needs above that of theirs and support their child’s right to access and ignore wrong doing against them by the father.
      Fact here is a convicted violent man that may or may not be reformed through prison rehabilitation program.

      A child’s safety or life is not worth the risk and if as violent to the mother around continually because more than once is too frequent , I think most would agree. As an adult the ad has an opportunity to gain a respected relationship and is the penalty to his previous action of abusing the mother infront of the children as that is emotional abuse and just as negatively impacting on children!

      Children should always come first fact! Thank you 🙂

      • yvette says:

        Totally agree, my daughter x is serving 8 years for GBH on his new partner, despite a very restrictive order off a judge, he continued to make my daughters life hell, not just hers but all of ours. The order stated if he wanted access he should contact a solicitor or social services, he never once attempted to contact the baby via these methods, even though he got into the house and stayed/took whatever he wanted on a regular basis, abused and attacked my daughter on the street, and started a hateful social media campaign against her because “she stopped him seeing his child” when in actual fact nobody stopped him, he just needed to make other arrangements, which was too much hassle the pub was more important, now 6 years later she has received a letter demanding access, from a solicitor while this manipulative pig is still in jail, we are all transported straight back to when the pig was in control 🙁

  4. Yvie says:

    Whilst violence to either men or women should never be condoned, there are usually sides to every story. It is a well known ploy that many women claim domestic violence in order to eject their partner from the marital home, often to move the new man in. I am of the opinion that parental rights should never be removed by the Courts – the choice should lie with the children when they are older to decide whether they wish to see one or other of their parents.

  5. Paul says:

    Why was this case heard in the high court, if not to pick out and make a special example of the father here and send a message? Was this the same man as in the Munby DV case referred to in a similar article?

    I would like to read the details when the judgement/s emerge in due course and would hope that you publish them here, please, Marilyn.

    Suffice it to say for now that today must have been a great victory for Munby, Head of Family Divison. The man must be truly proud of his courts’ achievements in their struggle to separate children for good from any father who sticks two fingers up to the system and lashes out. Of course we must consign these violent men to oblivion, for good. Their children must never see them again. These fathers are only of remote use to us in society when we send them out to far flung regions like Afghanistan, where they die as cannon fodder in the grand tradition of Waterloo. Then of course the violence is embraced, as noble, lauded and praised by all and sundry including no doubt, our wonderful Head of Family Division.

  6. legaleyes says:

    Sounds like a good result to me. Quite honestly if a reader can defend a man who repeatedly beats the mother of his child, has no fear of the law as he burgled the home and sets fire even to a police car – then if he is responsible (and certainly seems so here), then I for one, cannot take that reader seriously.

  7. Stitchedup says:

    legaleyes – “Sounds like a good result to me. Quite honestly if a reader can defend a man who repeatedly beats the mother of his child, has no fear of the law as he burgled the home and sets fire even to a police car – then if he is responsible (and certainly seems so here), then I for one, cannot take that reader seriously.”

    How exactly did you come to that conclusion?

    Point proven!!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    If this is as bad a bloke as they say, then you might also logically conclude that the one who got involved with him is also equally depraved and beneath contempt. Trouble follows trouble. But the child is allowed to stay in the hands of trouble, so long as it is female I suppose. That’s just blatant sexual discrimination. A fairer system would see the complete removal of the child from both sources of trouble in my opinion. Because it’s more than likely that the troubled female is just going to introduce non-biological step-father trouble into the child’s life, which is even worse for the child.

    And if all this trouble is just hot air and false allegations in the end, then the mother is even less worthy of motherhood. A liar forfeits their parental responsibility in decent folks’ eyes, but judges and courts seem to encourage and thrive on lies.

    • Bee says:

      How do you work that out? A woman or a man does not willingly, in most cases, choose to enter an abusive relationship. The abuse develops over time after what is usually a period of love bombing if the perpetrator has narcissistic traits…

    • Bee says:

      Except when there is solid evidence of the abuse being one sided…

  9. Legaleyes says:

    Is there any moderation of the comments left here? Seems very little given over to intelligent debate, just some women haters sounding off, repeating previous comments they do not agree with without adding anything to the discussion, or making ridiculous remarks, for example one seems to be suggesting that if the man is a beater the woman is just as much at fault for being with him in the first place – and should lose her child as a result! Well done him. Yes, perhaps all women should check out any man she is considering dating and use Clare’s law . Problem is some wont for whatever reason, esp if young and or foolish or romantic.

  10. Andrew says:

    A woman who thinks it necessary to use Clare’s Law should not be considering dating the man in the first place. The idea of checking up with Authority before you get personally involved with anyone – well, call me old-fashioned, but what happened to trust and love?

    If in my single days I had found that anyone I was dating had checked up on me (and she would have got a clean bill of health) that would ahve been the end of the relationship. At one and for ever.

    • Bee says:

      You must have something to hide then. Trust and love is built over time isn’t it, you don’t grant it from a first date unless you are naive.

  11. Stitchedup says:

    “Is there any moderation of the comments left here?” – YES

    “Seems very little given over to intelligent debate, just some women haters sounding off, repeating previous comments they do not agree with without adding anything to the discussion” – You’re not on the Guardian Women’s pages here. I don’t always agree with everything Marilyn or John say, but to their credit, the very thing they are doing on this blog is allowing “intelligent debate”.

    Unfortunately, on blogs such as the Guardian Women’s pages, women are accustomed to seeing any comment that threatens/contradicts the feminist agenda moderated out. We are all accustomed to seeing politicians, the judiciary and other legal professionals e.g. the DPP, trying to gain the moral high ground by jumping on the DV bandwagon. Unfortunately most have been blinded by militant feminist propaganda, much like that which can be seen on the Guardian Women’s pages.

    I can assure you, I’m certainly no woman hater. Like may other contributors I have a mother, sisters and a niece; I’m sure others have daughters also. The vast majority of comment on here is critical of the state family law, the bias shown in family courts and a system that is dangerously open to abuse. Many also object to the issue of DV being genderised the way it is and not just through comments posted on this blog.

    For example, why is it that any DV poster you see either shows a battered woman, a woman cowering with her hands over her ears, or an angry man shouting?? Why are our children being conditioned in school that men are the main perpetrators of DV?? Why aren’t girls told that constant negativity and criticism is abusive?? And why is it that men/fathers are treated as disposable in relationships??

    There’s an old saying – lies, damned lies, and statistics. E.G. using the number of convictions for DV is no way indicative of the nature of DV in society; it is more indicative of a system that targets one gender over the other. Constantly quoting the statistic that 2 women a week are killed by their current/ex partner whilst conveniently ignoring that on average 1 child a week is killed by a parent, usually the mother; and 1 man is killed every two weeks by his current/ex partner.

    The definition of domestic violence now includes domestic abuse and has become an absurd, catch-all definition that can be shoe horned to hit even the most minor of domestic disputes. Men are the easy targets simply because they are in general physically larger/stronger.

  12. Legaleyes says:

    Andrew – exactly! But perhaps you should read anonymous ‘s post. Because according to him she was at fault for choosing him in the first place.
    As for stitched up his comments are so ludicrous with an obvious agenda that I am not wasting my valuable time replying.
    Clear no woman can do or has done the right thing with these commentators and perhaps it’s best they stay away from women in the future.
    I will also not bother reading any more comments here I prefer to deal with intelligent reasoned people. Shortage of them here

  13. Stitchedup says:

    We all have an agenda legaleyes, just not the same as yours.

  14. u6c00 says:

    It’s ok to have an agenda, that’s rather the point of a debate. In fact if everyone has the same agenda then it’s not a debate, it’s a consensus.

    I sometimes agree and often disagree with Stitchedup, and on this particular issue I think that his statistics are incorrect (In the 6-year period to 2000/01 Home Office figures show that parents murdered 296 children; 160 – or 54% – were killed by fathers and 136 by mothers (Brookman & Maguire, 2003 quoted from, but that I agree that normal healthy conflict is incorrectly labelled and stigmatised as abuse.

    If you can’t refute his points then you’re not contributing to the debate, and packing up your ball and taking it home isn’t helpful or even particularly mature.

  15. Stitchedup says:

    How dare you say you don’t agree with everything I say :-).

    The claim one child a week is killed by a parent, usually the mother, was made on the BBC during a report on one of the recent child murders. I’ve said in previous posts that I’ve been unable to find the research that breaks this down by gender, but I would be surprised if the BBC allowed such a claim to be reported if it wasn’t based on some research. The NSPCC support the one child a week figure however –

    That said, in the context of my original comment, if we use your statistics that mothers are responsible for nearly half of child murders, I stand by my comment that the issue of domestic violence shouldn’t be genderised in the way it is.

  16. sandy smith says:

    what in the world.If a stranger HURTS YOU wouldn’t you want to lock that person up.because he is a so-called father then its supposed to be alright to continue to hurt the mother and children.They don’t send dogs back to abusers.Its not rocket science.

  17. Luke says:

    Obviously we don’t have the details of this case, but the fact that he was gaoled for setting the police car on fire is pretty damning with regard to his general behaviour – on top of that he didn’t make any serious effort to oppose the application to end his parental responsibility.

    I don’t see based on what we have here that the decision was unreasonable.

  18. Stitchedup says:

    Sorry Luke, but personally I find the vagueness of the article a little bizarre. The offences implied in the article are serious in nature, but for whatever reason there appears to be a reluctance to state in unequivocal terms that the man actually committed the said offences. It smells of probability rather than proof.

  19. Luke says:

    “Eventually she fled her home with the children, and the building was then burgled. A police car stationed outside the building in response to her concerns was set on fire. The man was arrested and jailed.”

    StitchedUp, I agree some parts of the article are uncertain but the key bit is it does say he was “jailed” and he did go to prison.

    To go to prison either for the burglary or burning the police car or both means he must have been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of doing at least one of these crimes.

    If you add the fact that he didn’t make a very strong attempt to go to court to protect his parental rights then he – in my opinion – has portrayed himself in a particularly bad light with regard to continuing to be a parent. When you consider all the other accusations made against him and try to assess the probabilities as to who is telling the truth he comes out of it particularly badly.

    At least, that’s how I see it.

  20. yvette morgan says:

    Spot on there, children deserve 2 loving parents and extended families

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