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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

26 FEB 2013

PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY AND CONTACT: Re W (Parental Responsibility Order: Inter-relationship with Direct Contact)

(Court of Appeal, Thorpe, McFarlane, Davis LJJ, 20 February 2013)

The parents of the, now 6-year-old, boy had an on-off relationship prior to his birth and had permanently separated. For the first 18 months of the child's life the father had contact but this had ceased in more recent years. The father applied to the court for contact and parental responsibility orders.

A Cafcass report recommended that due to the mother's fear of the impact contact would have on the child it should not be contemplated, although that fear had no objective foundation. On the basis that there were no cogent reasons for a departure from that recommendation the justices refused the father's application. The father's appeal was dismissed but he was granted permission to bring a second appeal.

The appeal relating to direct contact was dismissed. The appeal relating to a parental responsibility order was allowed. It was clear that the authority of Re C and V (Contact and Parental Responsibility) [1998] 1 FLR 392 had not been considered. If it had been it was doubtful that the application for parental responsibility would have been refused. The treatment of parental responsibility and contact as being interlinked had been erroneous. On the basis of all the evidence the justices heard there was no good reason for allowing the appeal in relation to contact.




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