ON APPEAL FROM NORWICH COUNTY COURT
(HIS HONOUR JUDGE RICHARDS)
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
LADY JUSTICE BLACK
| In the matter of C ( A child )
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The Respondent Mother appeared in person.
Crown Copyright ©
Lady Justice Black:
"The overall impression from P was that contact with her father gives her no sense of self-worth"
"There are recognised developmental changes in the children of separated parents who have experienced heavily conflicted residence and contact disputes. At the age of seven years there is evidence that children have loyalty conflicts and strong alignments with one parent may be less evident. When children move into middle childhood if the conflict continues alignments become more apparent and the child may be less concerned about hurting their parents. Hearing negative comments about a parent a child has invested their emotional security in is likely to strengthen a child's alignment to that parent. Children in this age group also begin to express their views with more authority and confidence."
Mrs Harrison said that in her opinion:
"From P's perspective contact with her father is perfunctory and based on a court order"
Mrs Harrison found no indication of a sibling alliance with P's stepmother's young daughter, M. In terms of advice Mrs Harrison said that the court may wish to consider suspending contact as an interim measure.
The former of these options, that is continuing contact, the judge thought would be contact organised "in the face of a clearly expressed wish by a 12-year-old child that it should not happen"
"84. In those circumstances and for those reasons I propose to discharge the order of October 2006 and make no order for contact.
85. I do so with a very heavy heart but find some crumb of comfort in the thought that P will be more likely than not to make contact with her father in her own time and in her own way. Sadly it is likely to be surreptitious and behind her mother's back. "
"87. Increasingly I am coming to the view that there are some exceptional cases in which the Court can simply do no more. Every avenue has been tried and exhausted"
"I had a great weekend and cannot wait to see you soon.
Lots of love [P] "
This e-mail was sent on a Monday and the weekend reference relates to the weekend with the father and step mother. There are others in similar terms.
"The father denies that the emails had been tampered with by him or were false or made up in order to support his case."
"I am satisfied that P has in the past showed love and affection for her father. She has positively enjoyed his company and has found it fulfilling. She has been relaxed with him. She has been loving towards him"
And he went on to say that the email correspondence supported his conclusion that P loves her father.
Lord Justice Thorpe:
Order: Appeal allowed