Judges will not allow parents to make numerous contact applications spanning several years if the process could be detrimental to their children, as illustrated in a recent case before the Court of Appeal.
The case involved a couple who had separated when their children were aged five and two.
The mother had made unproven allegations that the father had been guilty of domestic abuse. The children said they did not wish to see him. He applied for an order that they should live with him, but it was refused on the basis of two local authority reports.
The reports were later found to be biased and unreliable, and the father's application was considered afresh. However, he refused to attend supervised contact and Skype contact broke down.
The father's application for a fresh psychological assessment of the family was granted. However, he then failed to co-operate with the assessment.
The report stated that he displayed intimidating behaviour and had traits indicative of Asperger's. It recommended therapeutic intervention for the father, with further contact only taking place once that was completed.
The proceedings had lasted for six years when at the final hearing, the judge dismissed the father's application, concluding that he had been unable to prioritise the children's needs over his own, and his open hostility towards the mother was harmful to her welfare and damaging to the children.
He accepted the report's recommendation, and made an order under the Children Act 1989 preventing the father from making any further applications for three years without permission.
The father submitted that the proceedings had infringed his and the children's rights and that the length of the order was too long.
However, the Court of Appeal upheld the judge’s decision.
It held that the mother and children were entitled to protection from incessant litigation and the length of the order was not inconsistent with the possibility of a therapeutic approach to the restoration of contact.
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Case Citations:  EWCA Civ 548Re G (CHILDREN) (INTRACTABLE DISPUTE) (2019), CA (Civ Div) (Longmore LJ, Peter Jackson LJ, Coulson LJ)
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