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Children Act proceedings – a last resort?

children law advice

There is a real focus at the moment on trying to keep disputes regarding children out of the court arena. However, there will always be cases where that simply is not possible.

There are always extreme cases and the recent case of Re A [2013] EWCA Civ 1104 is an example of that. There had been continued litigation since the child (who was almost 14) was 21 months old.  Since 2006 there had been 82 court orders, 7 judges and over 10 CAFCASS officers.

In the judgment McFarlane LJ noted that the father was unimpeachable and the mother implacably opposed to contact. The father was arguing that the court system as a whole had failed to meet its duty to afford paramount consideration to the child’s welfare and to respect her and her father’s Article 8 rights to family life.

McFarlane LJ was satisfied that that the proceedings as a whole has violated the procedural requirements that are a part of the rights enshrined in Article 8 and the result of this failure was that the rights of the child and her father to have an effective relationship had been violated. The fathers appeal against the order that there be no direct contact was allowed and the matter was to be reheard.

Inevitably this means further ongoing legal proceedings but in a case like this it is difficult to know what the appropriate outcome should be. It seemed clear to the judge that the child did not want to see her father but she had been heaving influenced by her mother.   Having a childhood blighted by litigation is likely to have a negative impact on any child but yet how can the court or the system appear to condone those who do not support contact as they should and influence a child against the father?  There does not appear to be any easy answer.

For specialist advice on any family law related issue contact Maguire Family Law by email: or telephone:

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