A London woman has been named the primary carer for her 11 year-old nephew by the Family Court.
The child, ‘C’, was born two weeks prematurely and suffered a series of health problems as a result. He was visually impaired in one eye, had one leg shorter than the other and “a slight curvature of the spine”. The boy moved around a lot during his early years in what Mr Justice MacDonald called “a rather peripatetic existence”. This began when C moved to London from Manchester with his mother when the parents’ relationship broke down in 2005.
C’s mother sent him to Portugal in 2006 so he could receive medical care for his various ailments. His maternal aunt paid for the treatment and cared for the boy during his stay in the country. When C was three years old he returned to his mother’s care in England. Then in 2008 the father moved to Angola to pursue his career and – quite separately – in 2012 the mother and C moved to Mozambique.
C was once again sent to live with his aunt in 2013 and he remained there until the hearing. By the time of this move, however, she lived in London. His father then returned to Manchester and launched legal proceedings for the return of C to his care, claiming the aunt had mistreated C.
Additionally, he insisted it was in C’s best interests to return to Manchester and live with him, while the aunt denied the father’s accusations and believed the boy should remain in London with her. The mother – who still lives in Mozambique – supported her sister.
At the Royal Courts of Justice in London, the judge heard evidence from a social worker who reported that “C and his aunt have a warm physical and emotional interaction and that C approaches his aunt freely and without caution”. This evidence was “in complete contradiction to the picture painted by the father”, he said.
Mr Justice MacDonald ruled that C should stay with his aunt who “clearly has the best understanding of [his] particular physical, emotional and educational needs”. By contrast, he continued, the father’s “longstanding absence from his son’s life” means he is “entirely untested in his ability to meet [C’s needs].”
The judge made a child arrangements order to that effect and gave the aunt parental responsibility for the boy. He said the family had “a good record” when it came to contact arrangements and urged this to continue.
Read D v E in full here.