A father’s legal bid to establish contact with his kids has been rejected by the Appeals Court.
Lady Justice Black dismissed the appeal on the grounds that contact was not in the children’s best interest.
In W (Children) (Contact Dispute) (No 2), the father sought to challenge a previous ruling which concluded that there should be only indirect contact ordered, not direct contact, as the children had expressed significant resistance to the idea.
The parents never married but did live together until separating in 2008 when the mother left the family home with the children.
After the separation, “contact became problematic” as the children claimed they did not want to see the father and became distressed when the subject was brought up.
Two guardians from NYAS, a charity which offers advice, advocacy and legal representation to children, were brought in before the original appeal.
The guardians attempted to mediate the relationship between the father and his children but it did not go well.
Lady Justice Black quoted the original judge’s assessment of the evidence given by the second guardian involved in the case:
“[T]he children’s wishes and feelings could not be clearer, they do not want to see their father, and neither she nor her predecessor … have been able to make much progress as to why not.”
Lady Justice Black considered the original ruling to be in line with all of the facts.
“The [original] judge’s decision, supported by the guardian, was that the time had come when it was not in the children’s interests to pursue matters further and I do not think he can be said to have been wrong.”
Lord Justice Ryder and Lord Justice Burnton agreed with the dismissal of the appeal.
As the court recognised “”it is only in very exceptional circumstances that children should be deprived of the contribution to their lives of their absent parent and that to do so is an order of last resort” but in this particular case, all avenues had been exhausted.
It’s a desperately, deeply sad story, but it goes to show how despite the best effort of all the professionals involved, sometimes there is just nothing more that can be done. For now.