Children – Contact – Parental Conflict
In the case of K v D (Parental Conflict), the Court considered a case involving serious parental conflict.
The parents were both very young when they met in 1993.
In 1996, the parties purchased a 5 bedroom property together in Kent.
The parties subsequently had children and married in 2008.
In mid-2008 the parties moved to Dubai, but returned to England the following year.
The parties subsequently separated in April 2011, with the Mother pursuing divorce proceedings in November 2012.
Following the separation, the Father formed a new relationship and moved offshore to Dubai.
During the last years of marriage, a number of incidents had occurred between the parties, which had unfortunately been witnessed by one of the children, J. For example, on one occasion, a scuff broke out between the parties and the Father injured the Mother’s arm when she tried to push him away.
A further incident occurred when the parties were at their house in Portugal, whereby the Father lost his temper and threw the Mother against a door and grabbed her by the throat. This incident was seen by J, who told the Father to stop. The Father argued he only used defensive force.
In 2014, the Mother issued an application for an Order that any contact between the children and their Father should be supervised.
The Mother also sought a Prohibited Steps Order preventing the Father removing the children from England and Wales.
The Court granted the Prohibited Steps Order.
The Father applied to discharge the Prohibited Steps Order and sought a Child Arrangements Order for the children to live with him as he wanted the Mother to recognise him as an equal parent.
The Mother submitted that any contact should be supervised and that the Father should be ordered to attend an anger management course.
The Court ruled that the children’s greatest need was a resolution of the dispute and to return to normality.
The Judge stated that this required the children to feel relaxed in their home and about their relationship with their Father.
The Court preferred the evidence of the Mother in relation to the incidents between the parties.
The Court confirmed that the children lived with their Mother and therefore the Order should reflect that reality.
The instant issue was regarding contact, which the Court would ensure took place.
The Court found that the Father’s reactive claim for shared care added to the anxiety experienced by the children and her Mother.
The Court dismissed the Mother’s application for contact to be supervised, as well as the Father’s applications for orders prohibiting the Mother from bringing the children into contact with her brother in law or leaving them with her father.
The Court stated that the level of conflict between the parties was shameful. It stated that the parties should attend a Separation Parents Information Programme as soon as possible to allow them to learn about the impact of hearing negative things about the other parent on the children.
The Father was not directed to attend an anger management programme.
The Court found that there was no risk the Father would retain the children if he was allowed to take them abroad on holiday and therefore refused to make a Prohibited Steps Order in this respect.
The Court confirmed that the children’s relationship with their father needed to be repaired, by having regular contact in England. It felt that contact abroad would be too big a step in the short term.
The Court therefore made a programme for contact.
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