A mother has been told she can only have contact with her son six times a year instead of the 12 times that she wanted.
The case centred on the care of an eight-year-old boy. His parents had separated after the mother alleged that she had suffered domestic abuse by the father and his family.
The father was granted supported contact with his son, who remained living with the mother.
The local authority then intervened because of the mother’s alleged neglect of the son. The court ordered that the son should live with the father under a supervision order. Contact with the mother was limited to six times a year and had to be supervised by the local authority.
Three conditions were imposed on the mother’s contact: she had to abide by a contract of expectations between herself and the local authority, follow the advice of contact supervisors and not make derogatory comments to her son about the father.
The judge stated that the guardian had advised that contact should be 12 times a year on the basis that the mother should undertake one-to-one parenting work. She had declined to do this and so contact was restricted to six times a year.
The mother appealed and submitted that the judge had been wrong to make the order for contact six times a year instead of 12 and to impose the parenting work requirement.
However, the Court of Appeal has upheld the decision. It held that the judge was justifiably concerned about the mother making derogatory comments about the father and his family.
The local authority was concerned because of her failure to accept her neglect of her son. Its evidence was that her behaviour in contact was problematic for the boy.
There was also evidence that, while in care, the son was drained after contact with his mother and positive after contact with his father. In the care assessment, the assessor said she herself was emotionally drained after contact with the mother.
The judge had been entitled to accept the unanimous view of the professionals that supervision was required, and there was nothing wrong about the contact provisions in the order.
Please contact Sheetal Patel or Lorna Barry if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.