The Court of Appeal has rejected a father’s bid to overturn orders which prevented him from seeing his six year-old son.
The child’s parents met in 2006 and began living together the following year, but their relationship began to break down and they separated in April 2009. This was only a few weeks after their son, ‘OD’ was born. He has been the focus of litigation since he was only a year old as a result of animosity between his parents.
While the father initially was able to see his son on alternate weekends, this stopped after OD claimed he had been slapped. The contact resumed after a while but stopped again when OD told his deputy head teacher that his father had slapped him and poked him in the eye. Social services were called in and the father was assessed.
The doctor who carried out the assessment reported that while he did not have mental health problems or a personality disorder, he did exhibit “uncontrollable anger”, impulsiveness and “a tendency to be controlling”.
Following these developments, contact between OD and his father stopped “on the direction of Social Services”. The father continued his legal bid to see his son, and a judge ordered a “gradual process of reintroduction” which would begin with OD spending time with his paternal grandparents. The order stipulated that the father could not contact OD until the boy’s third such visit.
However, the first meeting between OD and his grandparents went very badly. The boy claimed they had said they would “make him see his father” and refused to see them a second time. Consequently, the father was not allowed to see OD as the three meetings had not taken place. In response, he applied to the Court of Appeal to have the initial judge’s ruling overturned.
Sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice, Lady Justice King said that two previous judges – including the one whose decision the father sought to challenge – “between them had tried for 4 years … to make contact work for OD” with no success.
She added that the judge’s decision not to allow contact was “supported by the evidence” available so she could not rule that it had been made in error. Therefore, she dismissed the father’s appeal.
The full judgment is available here.
Photo by Horia Varlan via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence