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Mother wins rehearing in protracted residence dispute

The mother of two boys has won a rehearing in the latest stage of a drawn-out custody dispute with their father.

Re K (Children) concerned brothers aged 14 and 12. Their parents had separated a decade earlier following a seven year marriage. The mother remarried in 2005. Since that time, the parents’ relationship had deteriorated into acrimony.

In the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Ryder said:

“There has been litigation about the children before the county court, now the family court, for approximately 10 years.”

Between 2005 and 2009, under the terms of a contact order, the boys lived with the mother and her new partner, staying with the father on alternate weekends. There was the nno further overnight contact between the boys and their father until 2012, when a further contact order was made, reinstating the alternative weekend contact.

However, this arrangement again broke down the following January. The father did not see his sons again until March this year, when a further legal order again restored contact on alternating weekends. The new order also introduced a measure which would see residence transferred to the father on a temporary basis over the summer if the boys’ mother and stepfather did not allow the specified contact to take place.

But the new arrangements lasted barely a month before the situation deteriorated once again. The older boy was sent to live with his foster carers and the younger boy with his father.

Lord Justice Ryder explained:

“The young men were separated for the first time in their lives in the sense that they were separated from their day to day carers, their mother and her married partner, and also from each other. The judge suspended any contact between the boys and their mother for three weeks…”

He continued:

“…the removal happened late at night with the police in attendance. The circumstances were distressing to all involved, including at least one professional….The removal was described by mother’s representatives as ‘violent’.”

In late May the brothers absconded from their father’s home for a period of time.

The mother appealed against both the contact order and the temporary transfer of residence to the father. The father, meanwhile, applied to enforce the orders.

The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the mother, saying the order had contained a number of legal errors, including a failure to fully consider the welfare of the boys, a failure to properly justify the removal, and a failure to properly consider the effects of removing the boys from each other.

The Lord Justices ordered the case be returned to the family courts for a further hearing. Meanwhile, the boys were to be returned to the care of their mother.

Read the full judgement here.

In February, a father won residence rights for his two sons after complaining that their mother had prevented him from seeing them.

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. Ade morton says:

    Hi to clarify, divorce final yr half ago, no access for 14mnth to my girls, 3/5. Was inconsolable pang of separation fr girls, I bathed an put them bed every nite of 5 yr marry took on total responsability soon as I walked thru dr ev nite an every wknd of marry, feeding, washing the lot along with ful time employment. No bitterness I loved it. But regarding my earlier comment on access being impeded, and the negative things my ex wife continues to instill on our girls, dnt want to sound bitter, I truly wish the best for her, her new man an new baby. I want to give her her share was marry 5 yr, 2 lovely girls am blessed. But I put my 100,000 savings down on a house no help fr ex, she gave up work to get preg soon as we marry,( even tho she got a doctorate) I okd her stop work, but I payed 25,000 ++ for wedding, my parents 10,000 for round world honeymoon. I am not mean and agree she shud get her share. She has her luxury flat rented out fr day 1 of marry, I no prob forget that, I pay maintain for girls I house them and her new man and baby, why I dos on brothers sofa!!! I no prob or complaints fr me, an offered to continue house them for 15 yrs. But court this fri 10th Oct, I got 25,000 marital debt I offered to cover that, but she wants keep her flat, I dnt care but she also wants our marital home, be transf to solely her its value 250, 000 min with 125,000 equity. I offered her free home for her my girls her fella ther new baby no clauses or catch for 15 yrs with child maintainance for my girls plus a negotiable 20% percentage of equity after 15 yrs or lump sum of 60,000 now plus al above, , is that unreasonable ???? My solicitor has offered min guideance ,or advice and seems intent on pissin my ex off which I see no point to ? Costs are thousands, and rising . Ex not spoke since day she eject me, Is fairness any possibility ??

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