Mother can’t take legal action over her children for four years
A mother has been told that she can only have indirect contact with her children and cannot apply to change that decision for another four years.
The Court of Appeal said the children had been subjected to too much conflict between their parents and needed to be protected from further, unnecessary stress.
The case involved a divorced couple who had two children. The children had lived with the father since the separation in 2008. The mother had made numerous contact and residence applications between 2008 and 2012.
In August 2013, an order was made for the children to live with their father, with indirect contact for the mother to be facilitated by a CAFCASS officer.
A CAFCASS report later raised concerns regarding the contact between the children and their mother. It referred to possible inappropriate behaviour on the mother's part and distress caused to the children. A report from the children's guardian said that their childhood had been blighted by parental discord. It concluded that the indirect contact should continue, but that the court should limit the mother’s scope for further legal action.
The judge accepted the report and made an order preventing the mother making further applications until the youngest child was 16, in four years’ time.
The mother appealed saying that four years was too long and that the court should have referred the children to a psychologist to explore whether their emotional difficulties were the result of their father's adverse influence.
The Court of Appeal ruled against her, saying that the judge had explored the possible reasons for the children's reluctance to see their mother and concluded that neither one of them wished to have any direct contact with her. They would only accept indirect contact.
He regarded the children's position in relation to the mother as "extremely sad", but unhesitatingly concluded that indirect contact was in their best interests.
The evidence pointed overwhelmingly to the strain the children were under and to their anger and frustration at the continuing litigation. They had been the subject of unremitting litigation since 2008.
The welfare of the children demanded not only that litigation should end, but that it could not be reactivated without the court's permission.
Please contact Shelley Rolfe or Paul Owen if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.