A High Court judge has ruled that a contact order should be enforced despite a mother’s objections.
The mother in this case lived in England while the father lived in Sweden. They had a son and a daughter, aged 11 and nine years-old.
A contact order established that the former couple’s two children would live primarily with their mother. These are made to establish how long children will spend with each of their separated parents. However, the children in this case were to spend time with their father in Sweden during school holidays such as the summer and Christmas breaks. The order also allowed for the father to take care of the children in England for a weekend each month.
This arrangement came to an end following a public confrontation between the parents at an English airport. The father was waiting there for the children, as he usually did when he took them to Sweden, but became increasingly agitated when the mother, her new husband and the children did not arrive on time. The father was concerned about missing his flight to Sweden and an argument began when the mother arrived. As a result of the confrontation, security and the police were called in. The commotion resulted in the father and children’s flight leaving without them but the police made no charges.
The father applied for the contact order to be enforced, while the mother applied to have all direct contact between him and the children suspended. She claimed that the children were always upset at the prospect of visiting their father.
Sitting at the Civil Justice Centre in Manchester, Her Honour Judge Newton said that while the father was not “entirely blameless for the distressing scene at the airport”, she understood his frustration. She said that the incident “was largely instigated by the mother’s behaviour”.
More generally, the judge said that the mother was “wholly unconvincing” whereas the father gave much better evidence and his “warmth and concern for the children was readily apparent”. She commended him for being “remarkably committed”, and cited the fact that he had visited the UK 37 times in a single year to see his children.
She noted that when the mother sent the children to be collected by the father, they had “no change of clothing, no favourite toys, nothing to cuddle, no books, not even a toothbrush”. The judge said that “the totally separate existences they have with each parent is deeply unfortunate and unhealthy”.
Judge Newton ruled in favour of the father and declared that the initial contact order should be enforced. She accepted that the mother was “extremely anxious” about the children and urged her to seek professional help, if necessary, in order to better cope with these anxieties. The judge concluded that a failure to do so could cause “significant damage” to the mother’s relationship with her children.
To read P (A Child : enforcement of contact order) in full, click here.
Photo of the Manchester Civil Justice Centre by Guy Hatton via Flickr