The Court of Appeal has rejected a father’s bid to overturn a ruling that he cannot text his 12 year-old daughter.
The man, who lives in London, has an acrimonious relationship with his estranged wife, the girl’s mother. He is allowed to see his daughter twice a month but at an earlier hearing in the Family Division of the High Court, Mrs Justice Parker had forbidden him from texting her between visits, encouraging her to text him, or buying her a mobile phone.
The Judge believed that allowing text message communication between father and daughter would “simply cause more anxiety” given the troubled relationship between the parents. She declared that “previous generations had not expected to be in communication with their parents every day”.
Daily text messaging could also, suggested the Judge, cause the mother to worry about “her whereabouts being traced”.
The father applied for permission to appeal. He said:
“Mrs Justice Parker said the [previous text] messages were too affectionate but I cannot see how a father can be too affectionate to his daughter, just by saying he loves her. Twice a month is just not enough.”
His application was backed by his daughter, who wrote to the Appeal Court. This read:
“I love my dad very much and I really want to be able to text him. Sometimes I miss my dad a lot and I want to keep in touch. The other judge would not allow me to text him and I am hoping that you will.”
But Lord Justice McFarlane came down in favour of his judicial colleague. The parents had a lengthy history of “dispute and counter dispute”, His Lordship noted, and the earlier judge had been obliged to take that into consideration. The man had sent his estranged “unwelcome communications” on a number of occasions.
The girl naturally wanted a relationship with both her parents and he understood the importance of his, Lord Justice McFarlane declared. But Mrs Justice Parker’s ruling had been fully justified and there were “no grounds” for an appeal.
Image by Howard Lake via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence