Family Law Titles
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'Throughout the proceedings S has quite deliberately and explicitly sought to portray herself as a victim. Indeed she describes herself as such and claims that she is discriminated against as a mother and, more particularly as a breast-feeding mother ... There was never the slightest indication of a cowed, submissive or victimised person. On the contrary she conducted herself in a very confident and most assertive manner throughout. She has sought to impose her will on the court and manage the proceedings.'The court's decision that the girl should live with her father and his partner was not a punitive one in the light of the mother's conduct, but a recognition that the mother was unable to prioritise her child's best interests above her own feelings and agenda. The judge said that the child had already suffered harm, and was likely to continue to do so if she remained with her mother. It was vital that she be allowed to develop a good relationship with both her parents and to understand her identity and place in the world in a positive way. Ms Justice Russell said:
'As she gets older she will become more aware of, and will be directly affected by, her mother's negative views about her father and B. These views will affect her own sense of identity; negatively inform her view of herself and where she fits into the world. I am forced to conclude that S has shown herself to be unable to put M first and that she is unable to meet M's emotional needs now and in the long term.'Article continues below...
'While to move a young child from her mother is a difficult decision and is one which I make with regret as I am aware that it will cause S distress I conclude that H is the parent who is best able to meet M's needs both now and in the future. It is he who has shown that he has the ability to allow M to grow into a happy, balanced and healthy adult and it is he who can help her to reach her greatest potential.'The judge ordered supervised contact for the mother, at least initially. This unusual step was something the court had 'struggled with' but ultimately concluded was necessary, both due to a real fear the mother would remove the child to Romania (having done so in breach of court orders in the past in respect of her older daughters) and to ensure that contact could not be used by the mother as 'a means of continuing the contest for ownership of M' which would make contact a negative experience for the child. The judge said she hoped that in time this would no longer be necessary, and pointed out that the fathers still aspired to the mother playing an important role in her child's life including having contact in a more relaxed environment.