Warning to separated parents about the need to promote and maintain a relationship between children and both parents.

In a recent High Court case a 12 year old boy who had lived with his mother since his parents separated when he was a small baby was ordered to live with his father as a result of his mother’s refusal to co-operate with his father about arrangements for contact, holidays and schooling.

The child had enjoyed regular contact with his father until 2018, but the mother made persistent efforts to alienate the him from his father, and the child had not seen his father for 18 months before the court hearing. A child psychologist gave evidence to the court that the child’s emotional needs, including his right to have a relationship with his father were being sacrificed, and concluded that the boy would have no relationship with his father if he remained living with his mother.

The judge decided that it would be more beneficial for the child to live with his father, in spite of the fact that he had spent most of his life living with his mother, and had become estranged from his father as a result of his mother’s behaviour.

Careful arrangements were made for the boy to move to his father’s home, and during the period of transition he had no direct contact with his mother.

The decision highlights that in parental alienation cases, where the child has previously had good quality contact with the alienated parent, an immediate transfer of living arrangements can be successfully achieved with appropriate therapeutic support, notwithstanding an 18-month absence of direct contact.

Parents who have children living with them should be aware that if they are inappropriately uncooperative with regard to contact and they are seen to be damaging and preventing a relationship between the child and the other parent, the court has the power to change the living arrangements and will do so when it is considered best for the child. Equally non-residential parents should be aware that if they act in a way which damages the relationship between the child and the residential parent the court can intervene and alter contact arrangements if it is necessary to protect the child’s wellbeing.

For further advice on family related legal matters contact Anne Vincent avincent@gabbs.biz (Leominster) or John Shurvinton jshurvinton@gabbs.biz (Hereford)




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