The High Court has rejected a man’s bid for custody of his daughter after the death of her mother.
Mr Justice Keehan said the man, originally from Cameroon in West Africa, did not understand the girl’s emotional needs.
The father had wanted the girl to come and live with him and his new partner in Manchester, the Press Association (PA) reports.
The judge declared: “I do not doubt that in his own way [the father] deeply loves [his daughter]. Most importantly, there is the extent to which this father can meet the emotional needs of this child. He may love her, as he did frequently say he loves her. Sadly, in life that is not enough.”
“This child needs to have her emotional needs recognised and met. She needs to be the centre of attention so that her needs are not missed. I regret to find that the father does not begin to evince any understanding of what those needs are nor does he evince any ability to meet them.”
The father had an uncertain immigration status in the UK and had not been truthful with social workers about his situation, the judge noted.
He also criticised the father’s response to a particular question while he was giving evidence.
“When I heard him reply in answer to the fact that [the daughter] has been through a lot in her short life, I thought it heartless on the part of the father to reply ‘Me, too’. It is a powerful and illuminating example of the approach of this father to this matter, which is to his needs and his rights and what he wants, and coming a very poor second is what this precious little girl needs. Accordingly, applying the welfare check list and applying the paramountcy principle of deciding what is in (the girl’s) best interests, I have no hesitation in finding that it would be wholly contrary to (her) short-term and long-term welfare best interests to be cared for by her father.”
Under the Children Act 1989, the courts are obliged to give paramount consideration to a child’s welfare. The Act also contains a ‘welfare checklist’ of issues to be considered when determining a child’s welfare needs.
The girl should instead be adopted by her maternal aunt and uncle in the US, the judge declared.