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Father’s contact appeal fails

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.

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. The Devil's Advocate says:

    Interesting that parental hostility against each other is the fundamental stance to this whole case, although their is the absence of prior nonmolestation and occupation injunctions which indicates a reticence to belittle the alienated parent from the alienating in a more hostile manner which is becoming more common these days; it is almost a cliché. But wait!

    Rather than allowing a continuity of disharmony to continue, the original Court hearings could have encouraged a grasp of reality of full parental therapy to examine and support comprehensive responsibility in parenting. The President of the Family Division ruled on such a direction of parental responsibility over a similar case in April 2015. (See previous blog).

    I fear that in this case the Court did not have the legal precedent to offer this because their is not the right of parents to have parity through responsible parental relations. I am afraid that the child in this case will see his parents animosity directly even though the mother did not action injunctions out of hostility against the father which is often a ploy in sponsoring parental alienation when there is no supporting evidence. Wishes and feelings of a 5 year old child would be difficult to access when observed in this case for example in one described reaction, when he “hit out” at his mother when she exhibited rightful parental responibilities. The child was reacting sadly but naturally.

    The Court’s inaction to seek proactive functional professional support associated with resolving the parental acrimony is a fundamental need. The father undertaking anger management therapy would have helped as part of a comprehesive resoonse. Responsible parity in parenting could reawaken this need for parents as “the carrot and stick” direction of family responsibility.

    We offer anti natal clinic support to future responsible parenting, why not such therapy clinics (or the like) for acrimonious parents, when the best interest of a child is at stake. Does the Court and hence society really seek this, isn’t the little boys life worthy of this? Don’t forget the evidence that any form of alienation whether fully or partially breds the same for the child as an adult! Disengaging one parent froM one parent is only proactive if all measures of parental therapy gave been actioned. In this case they gave not. That is what is required, not just here but in the tens of thousands of such cases which come before Courts in contemporary times on an annual basis and in reality the best intersets if the children are not enacted.

    Sadly we have a mesolithic attitude to parenting, one which certain aggressive gender groups still tend to hanker after even though we now recognise the role of hormonal dysfunction as an awareness for sympathy for mothers over long term reality and hence empathy for the child. Certainly mothers need the support for the natural care of developing and birthing a child but in the main this is natural and evolutionary significant as is the male role in providing the appropriate gametes to allow effective procreation, (scientifically chosen description). I will not venture in the gametogenesis role for fear of sidelining the argument. Suffice to say a better understanding of the real biology and responsibility of being a parent will illustrate why it is important that a child recognises the need for both parents in their lives in an engaging manner. Parity by full responsibility is now needed urgently. Parental alienation is formed from the stem cells of psychological dissonance. It should be made historical in family situations.

    Like evolution we need the substantive evidence accrued to filip a paradigm in both the moral and legal imperative for family harmony even if the natural parents are not together. Most intelligent parents understand this and often one of those in a dissociative partnership too. The other which may or may not, has to do likewise or suffer the consequences.

    Thank you.

    The Devil’s Advocate. (Past Safeguarding professional to 10,000 minor students over a three decade period )

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