Judicial Judgment ‘Wholly Lacking’ in Intractable Contact Cases


F (Children) [2015] EWCA Civ 1315 is yet another case involving alienation where the handling of the case by the lower court was ‘wholly inadequate‘. Not my opinion (actually it is, and I agree…), but that of the Lords Justice who heard the appeal.

The case highlights the failings which are increasingly commonplace in the lower courts. The child has been poisoned by one parent against the other yet the court grants excessive weight to the child’s wishes and feelings at the cost of their welfare needs, and fails to address the issue of the alienating parent’s behaviour. The child is left subject to continued emotional abuse and the parent who sought the court’s help is utterly failed. Months elapse due to the court’s failure to get a grip and problems become entrenched. Continue reading Judicial Judgment ‘Wholly Lacking’ in Intractable Contact Cases


Proposals for the Reform of Intractable Contact Dispute Law


paper2Last September I had the opportunity to write a paper on the reform of private family law and specifically related to contact enforcement. The paper was presented to Sir James Munby, President of the Family Court, by officers of Families Need Fathers who had been offered a continuing dialogue by him following his presentation to the charity AGM in 2014. A follow-up meeting is diarised to discuss the paper’s contents and proposals.

Within the paper, the guiding principles for the proposals were “what is practical, realistic and has a reasonable chance of being taken forward”.

Continue reading Proposals for the Reform of Intractable Contact Dispute Law


Failings in Intractable Contact Cases Continue


When intractable contact dispute cases fail to be resolved there are common reasons, and ones which involve how the cases are managed by the court and professionals involved in proceedings. Some of those cases are salvageable, while for others the long length of proceedings acts as a bar to the court entertaining a different approach.

My criticism isn’t universal and I acknowledge there are experienced and highly capable judges and welfare officers. It’s that very observation which sees me compare what, in case management terms, is the good, the bad and the ugly (one movie we didn’t see this Christmas). Sadly, justice and positive outcomes remain reliant on the quality and experience of the individuals involved, with a lack of process and poor adherence to what process exists exacerbating problems. The appeal system alone is an inadequate means of quality control to identify poor practice and capability.

Rather than intractable contact disputes being complex, these are often cases made complex by poor investigation, inadequate welfare analysis and failures to apply and carry through strategies from an early stage. These are common reasons for failure, and the saddest thing of all is that none of these should come as a surprise. Continue reading Failings in Intractable Contact Cases Continue


Alienation, Strategies and Pessimism


There are strategies which aid in successful resolution of cases involving implacable hostility and children being cognitively manipulated to oppose contact (commonly referred to as parental alienation). While there is case law to support these strategies, they’re not rocket science (but just because they’re common-sense doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes need spelling out): Continue reading Alienation, Strategies and Pessimism


The Minnock Case – Crime, Punishment and Compassion


The papers and social media are full of discussions on the mother who has abducted her child following residence having been awarded to the father. A number of questions have arisen which we want to comment on.

Before we do, it’s worth noting that we support how the court has acted throughout from what has been said in the press. Matters appear transferred from magistrates to the higher court when contact broke down. Social workers and a psychiatrist involved to carry out an indepth assessment, with the court taking robust action. The expert involved was Dr Mark Berelowitz MB, BCh, MPhil, FRCPsych. Dr Berelowitz is one of the most highly regarded experts in his field. We recommend him. So we don’t believe any additional scrutiny of the court’s decision as to residence is required when the judge followed the recommendations of a man known for his impartiality, ability, fairness and expertise. Continue reading The Minnock Case – Crime, Punishment and Compassion


A warning: false allegations can backfire


There was a worrying case in yesterday’s Mail Online. A mother has disappeared with her child after the court awarded residence to the father. The Mail article can be viewed via the link below:

Mother goes on the run with son, three, after losing bitter custody battle – and judge accuses her family of helping her hide

Why had residence been granted to the father? The mother had made false allegations intended to frustrate contact. In essence, she’d put her own desires before her child’s best interests. The brief details in the Mail article would suggest this underpinned the court’s judgment. Continue reading A warning: false allegations can backfire


Re H-B [2015] EWCA Civ 389 – Disagreeing with Black LJ and Munby


It’s rare that I disagree with a judgment from the President of the Family Court or Lady Justice Black. This however is one such occasion where I feel their judgment is wide of the mark. There are some fundamental failures in the management of this parental alienation case. Continue reading Re H-B [2015] EWCA Civ 389 – Disagreeing with Black LJ and Munby


Added to our case law libraries – W (Children) [2014] EWFC B215


The case was heard in the Chelmsford Family Court. The Guardian supported an order for shared living arrangements and the mother had interfered with the interim contact arrangements leading to the father making a further application for a reversal of residence. Continue reading Added to our case law libraries – W (Children) [2014] EWFC B215


Lying in court and penalties for late filing of evidence


This morning, I was reading the case HU v SU [2015] EWFC 535 published earlier this month. The case has a number of features which are depressingly common:

  • Allegations being omitted from earlier statements and the schedule of findings sought, and later fresh allegations embellished and exaggerated in oral evidence;
  • Children being involved in parental disputes and influenced by one or other of the parents impacting upon their relationship with the other parent;
  • Late filing of evidence.

Continue reading Lying in court and penalties for late filing of evidence