Family and Children Law
In the case of Re W (children) (contact order) , The Court of Appeal ruled that a judge had erred when directing there be no direct contact between a father and his children.
The mother and father separated and the mother left the family home taking the children with her.
The father was granted parental responsibility and had weekly contact. The mother obtained a non-molestation order again her husband on the grounds of his abusive behaviour. Although the mother failed to establish most of the factual allegations relied upon in the order – the husband was in breach of the injunction and arrested. Thereafter contact between the children and the father became an issue. This was despite the mother maintaining that she was happy for the children to have contact with their father.
During the proceedings the father had been aggressive and agreed to undertake therapy to help him deal with his anger issues.
The mother remained afraid of her husband and the children showed signs of stress as a result of the family breakdown. Although the mother supported contact she had difficulty agreeing the practicalities of it. Due to the mother’s inability to promote positive relationships and direct contact the judge concluded that there should be no direct contact.
The father appealed arguing that undue emphasis had been placed on the mother’s feelings and that there were inadequate explanations for the departure from direct contact.
The appeal was allowed. The welfare of the children was paramount. It was in the interests of the children to have contact with both parents. Most of the allegations made against the father had not been proven and he had undertaken therapy to deal with his anger issues. The children had enjoyed beneficial contact with the father in the past and were likely to do so in the future. There had also been a lack of emphasis on why the mother had refused to accept therapy herself.