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Court prohibits mother making child arrangement applications

A judge has prohibited a mother from making child contact applications for two years without court permission.

The case involved a couple with a three-year-old daughter.

The mother worked as a locum doctor throughout the UK. In 2018, when the child was three years old, the mother left the father and took the child without telling him her location.

She applied for a child arrangements order and offered the father one hour’s supervised contact per week.

She relocated frequently and failed to comply with orders to return to England and surrender the child’s passport. In August 2019 the child’s residence was transferred to the father following an urgent application by the local authority.

The mother had twice-weekly telephone contact. It was held at a fact-finding hearing that she had deliberately obstructed the father’s relationship with the child. Telephone contact was suspended after an allocated phone call was used to enable a police officer to question the child about the mother’s (wholly unfounded) allegations of sexual abuse by the father.

The mother deluged the court, the school, the GP, the police and social services with emails containing allegations against the father and made formal complaints to professional bodies

A psychological assessment of the mother revealed a personality disturbance, and she was advised to undergo a 24-month therapy programme.

The judge ordered professionally supervised contact between mother and daughter for six hours every other weekend in that period and made an order prohibiting her from making child contact applications for two years without the court’s permission.

The Court of Appeal has upheld that decision.

It held that such orders were not limited to cases where a party had made excessive applications but extended to situations where their overall conduct merited intervention and “where the welfare of the child required it”.

The judge had not erred in making the order. The mother’s inability to regulate her behaviour in the interests of her child meant that the choice was not between supervised and unsupervised contact, but between no direct contact or supervised contact.

The expert evidence was that therapy provided the best route to enable the mother to have unsupervised contact in the future.

If you would like more information or advice about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of family law please contact our expert legal team on 02080040065, by email at hello@southgate.co.uk or using the form below.

Case Citations: Court of Appeal (Civil Division) [2021] EWCA Civ 1749 King LJ; Newey LJ; Arnold LJ

The contents of this article are general information only. The information in this article is not legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should obtain independent expert advice from qualified solicitors such as those within our firm.

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