The love and responsibility that parents feel for their children can be one of the most powerful things in the world. Often, parents will make life decisions based around what is best for their children, even when it means a harder life for themselves. However, there are times when parents can make the wrong decisions even if they believe they are acting in a way that benefits their children. This can be especially prevalent when the parents are having trouble in their relationship and the child ends up being caught in the middle of the feud.


Today’s blog examines a recent case in which a mother acted to keep her child all to herself against the father’s will, but her actions ultimately reduced the time she could spend with her child.


The case in question: A (a child) (supervised contact) (s 91(14) Children Act 1989 orders)


At the centre of this case is a seven year old child whom we will refer to as A. A’s mother, it was found, had been deliberately isolating A from the father. This meant putting distance between them, moving far away from the father and not allowing any contact. This was done in a covert fashion so that the father did not know exactly where the child and the mother were.


Along with moving away, the mother also sent various emails to A’s school, A’s doctor’s office, the police and social services which slandered the father and brought against him numerous unfounded allegations, many of which were very serious had they been true. Emails were also sent to the father directly.


Not only was the mother complaining about the father, but she also raised issues with many of the professionals involved in A’s life, such as social workers and legal officials.


Such behaviour was deemed irrational by the first instance family Court, and orders were made for A to live with her father and that any future contact between A and the mother be professionally supervised. Further orders were made to ensure that neither mother nor father could make further applications in the proceedings without permission of the court.


The mother appealed on the basis that the supervised visits coupled with the removal of her ability to freely appeal would drastically hinder her chances of progressing to unsupervised contact with A.



Decisions to be made


Within this case there were a few different aspects for the courts to take into considerations. The first was concerned with the mother’s erratic behaviour, which was ultimately decided to be out of her control and to the detriment of A. The court’s only option was to either prohibit all contact between the mother and A or have the contact be supervised. Due to the importance of familial contact, the choice was made in favour of supervised contact as opposed to none at all.


Secondly, there was the order to limit applications made from either parent. Often, such an order is put in place where parties make excessive applications to courts regarding a certain matter, often with no solid grounding in reality. In this case the harassment experienced by the father, along with complaints made to police and social services by the mother amounted to enough reason to make such an order. If such applications continue to be shrouded in unfounded allegations and devious complaints, then it was decided to be in the best interest of A that a limit be put on them.


Behaviour backfires


It is clear to use here that the mother’s behaviour played a huge role in the outcome of this case, and that had she acted in a more reasonable way, perhaps co-operating with the father more, then she may not have had her time spent with A restricted and supervised in this way.


We would say that before making any kind of rash decision in relation to your child, it is always best to seek legal advice to make sure that what you plan to do will not actually have adverse consequences for you or your child. Extreme behaviour such as what we see in this case is seldom a good idea.



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