A father has been told by the Court of Appeal that he cannot see his children more than twice a year.
In K (Children), the parents of the two daughters were married from 2004 to 2007.
When the marriage broke down, the girls were removed from the paternal family home with the assistance of the police.
Aside from a brief period with foster carers, the children lived with their mother since the split.
When the dispute over custody was taken to court, Lady Justice Black ruled the father would be limited to supervised contact with his daughters once a month.
In a subsequent ruling, Judge Bellamy reduced the supervised contact to two times a year.
He concluded that the father was very dangerous and the risk to the mother and their children “remained high or very high”.
The mother, meanwhile, was described as “a deeply fearful and anxious woman, whose distress was palpable” as a result of the father’s “wholly un-meritorious” attempt to get a shared residence order.
The father appealed Judge Bellamy’s decision, claiming that “the judge put too much emphasis on the negatives and too little emphasis on the positives” and that “[t]he expert evidence was all one way”.
But sitting at the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Ryder called the father’s argument “devoid of merit” and that it “cannot be said … that the judge’s welfare evaluation or order were wrong or disproportionate”.
Despite his satisfaction with the original evaluation, Lord Justice Ryder expressed concerns about the restrictions placed on the paternal family in relation to the girls.
“[When the father visits his children] the extended paternal family, including a paternal grandmother, a paternal uncle and paternal aunt, are to be excluded.”
“[T]he order is not reasoned on the face of the judgment. The order appears to have been an interim measure rightly imposed by the judge to permit an assessment of the father in the circumstance that the court was looking at whether he had changed his position. Whether there should be objection to the extended paternal family attending contact in the longer term remains an issue to be decided.”
The appeal was also heard by Lady Justice Macur and Lady Justice Arden, who both agreed with Lord Justice Ryder’s decision.