A Family Court judge has criticized a mother’s treatment of her daughter in the midst of a contentious separation.
In Re O (A Child), the mother and her ex-husband had made a series of allegations against each other during a dispute over the care of their son, called ‘O’ in the judgment.
As a result, a fact finding hearing was held to see if any of the accusations had merit.
D’s mother married O’s father in 2002 and they separated in 2010.
When the mother wanted to end her marriage, it led to a heated argument between her and the father.
The argument escalated into violence against both the father and D. The mother was arrested and accepted a police caution for the incident.
Following the incident, D expressed her wish to live with her step-father, a decision the mother accepted.
D did not ‘have contact’ with her mother while she lived with her step-father despite her wish to re-establish contact, the court was told.
In family law cases, ‘contact’ is any form of communication between a parent and child. It includes in-person meetings, phone calls and even emails.
At one stage, D emailed her mother but did not receive a response. The mother claimed she thought it had not been her daughter’s words in the email.
Sitting at the Family Court in Milton Keynes, His Honour Judge Brown expressed concern about the mother’s treatment of her daughter during this time.
“The reality is that Mother chose not to have contact with D from August 2010 until January 2013. That is a profoundly concerning part of this case and I am dissatisfied with Mother’s explanation for this. Mother had every opportunity to try and rebuild her relationship with D far sooner than January 2013.”
“If mother cannot understand the profound sense of rejection felt by D she has very little insight, empathy or understanding of the needs of her daughter.”
During the hearing, the judge also discussed D’s allegations of sexually inappropriate behaviour against her step-father.
He called the allegations “a particularly difficult aspect of the case”, but could not rely on D’s testimony.
The judge said doubts were cast on her allegations due to her choice to live with him instead of her mother and the fact that no such allegations were made until the mother began court proceedings against her ex-husband in relation to their son.
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