One of the very worst things a parent can do is to try to prevent the other parent from having a relationship with their child by falsely manufacturing allegations against that parent. Sadly, this is a scenario that happens all too frequently, as any family lawyer will testify.
The recent case Re ABCDEF (Fact Finding: Honour Based Violence) is a clear example, which tragically led to a child having no contact with his father for more than half of his life. Thankfully, the allegations made by the mother in the case have been proved to be false, and steps can now be taken to try to repair the damage caused to the child’s life.
The facts of the case, as I understand them, were that the father was a UK citizen and the mother was Pakistani. They married in Pakistan in April 2011, and the father returned to this country the next month. A year later the mother joined him in England. In August 2013 their son, ‘D’, was born.
The family went on holiday in Pakistan in February 2015. They returned to this country in April 2015, by which time the mother was expecting another child. The mother and father attended hospital in August, for the mother to have her first scan. It became clear from that scan and the dates of expected delivery, and therefore the date of conception, that the father knew he could not be the biological father of the child (the mother had had sexual intercourse with another man whilst in Pakistan).
After this, the mother remained living with the father in the family home for two months, before she left without telling the father, taking D with her. The father has had no contact with D since. The mother initially stayed with a friend, but had to leave after three weeks. She then contacted the police and made allegations of domestic abuse against the father, as a result of which she was placed in a refuge. She gave birth to her second child in the following month. She named her husband as the father, but subsequent DNA testing confirmed that he was not the father.
In February 2016 the father issued an application to spend time with his son. The mother responded to the application by making various allegations of honour-based violence against the father, including that her marriage to the father was a forced marriage, that she was treated like a prisoner in the family home, that the father and his family threatened to have her deported to Pakistan, and that the father and his family made threats to kill her.
The matter was eventually listed for a fact-finding hearing before Mr Justice Keehan. It did not go well for the mother. Mr Justice Keehan found her to be “a most unsatisfactory witness”, and found that she “lied serially”, including to the police and the court.
“In the course of her evidence,” he said, “it became abundantly clear that there was no truth whatsoever in her allegations.” It had not been a forced marriage, she was not a prisoner in her home, and any threats that had been made against her did not come from the father (her brother may have made ‘honour-based’ threats to kill her). And as for an allegation that the father gave her the ‘cold-shoulder’ and that he was not warm towards her, that was entirely understandable in the circumstances. He said:
“In the circumstances that I have described, I am entirely satisfied that the mother made a false case and false allegations against the father. There is no truth whatsoever in any of the allegations that the mother has made. The father does not pose any adverse risk of harm to the mother: still less is she at risk of honour-based violence from him. His approach to her actions has been measured. It follows that, in my judgment, there is absolutely no reason why the father and [D] should not, as soon as ever possible, have the opportunity to resume their relationship. It is, in my judgment, appalling that this little boy and this father have not seen each other for some three and a half years solely because of the malicious conduct, as I find it to be, of the mother.”
And he concluded in a similar vein:
“All the allegations made against the father by the mother are dismissed. None of them are true. This mother has wrongly and maliciously sought to exclude the father from Child D’s life. There is no reason why the child and the father should not now have the opportunity to re-establish their warm and loving relationship and that the father has and plays an important and full role in Child D’s life which will be to the inestimable benefit of Child D. It is to be regretted deeply that the mother’s actions have resulted in Child D and the father not having any contact whatsoever for three and a half years”
Obviously, it is now the job of the court to see that the father/child relationship is re-established as quickly as possible.
You can read the full judgment here.