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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

04 NOV 2014

Re A and B (Children) [2013] EWHC 4150 (Fam)

Re A and B (Children) [2013] EWHC 4150 (Fam)
(Family Division, Cobb J, 20 December 2013)

[The judicially approved judgment and accompanying headnote has now published in Family Law Reports [2015] 2 FLR 913]

Contact – Enforcement - Parents in same-sex relationships - Refusal of mothers to comply with contact order – Evidence of children suffering emotional harm – Whether the threshold for local authority intervention had been reached – Whether the children should be removed into foster care

The full judgment is attached below


The judge refused to make a care order in relation to the two children who had suffered emotional harm living with their mothers and were denied contact with their fathers.

The biological parents of the two children, aged 12 and 8, were both in same-sex relationships. The children lived with the women and an order was in place providing for contact with the men ( MA v RS [2012] FLR 1056; Re P and L (Contact) [2012] 1 FLR 1068; Re A and B (Children) [2013] EWHC 2305 (Fam)).

The relationship between all four parents was acrimonious and there had been evidence of the children suffering emotional harm. The children’s guardian now recommended the removal of the children to foster care. She had concerns about domestic abuse between the mothers and their failure to support contact with the fathers. The children were fed very negative views about their parents.

The fathers supported the guardian’s position. The local authority sought an interim supervision order and recommended a programme of support to work with the whole family. The mothers did not oppose that option. The older child wished to remain living with the mothers and did not want contact with the fathers.

An expert report confirmed the court’s view that the children were suffering significant emotional harm. It recommended a transitional move to foster care if there was a very high likelihood that it would lead to a resumption of a strong relationship with the fathers while retaining a relationship with the mothers.

While the judge found that there were serious questions about the current care of the children he was not satisfied on the evidence at present that it could not be improved with active and enthusiastic social work intervention. It was not necessary or proportionate to remove the children from their home. The judge was not convinced that the harm experienced by the children currently was greater than the potential harm of removing the children from the home.

A family placement could not be identified. Removal to strangers would have serious implications for the well-being of the children and would be wholly contrary to their ascertainable wishes as well as a serious interference with the family life of the girls and the mothers. The application for a care order was refused.


The fully referenced, judicially approved judgment and headnote will appear in a forthcoming issue of Family Law Reports. A detailed summary and analysis of the case will appear in Family Law.

Neutral Citation Number: [2013] EWHC 4150 (Fam)

Case No: FD08P01237

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
FAMILY DIVISION
For the hearing sitting at the Newcastle District Registry

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 20/12/2013

Before :

THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE COBB
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Between :

F1 and F2
Applicant

- and -

M1

M2

X County Council

A

B (by her Guardian)
Respondents

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Robin Tolson QC (instructed by Russell-Cooke LLP) for the Fathers
Victoria Green (instructed by BTMK) for M1
Mark Twomey (instructed by Goodman Ray) for M2
Daisy Hughes (instructed by County Solicitor) for X County Council
Siobhan Kelly (instructed by Miles & Partners) for A
Maggie Jones (instructed by Bindmans) for the Children’s Guardian

Hearing dates: 11 and 12 December 2013
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Judgment

This judgment was handed down in private on 20 December 2013, and published in a redacted form (removing identifying features of the family) on 24 October 2014 together with
[2013] EWHC 2305 (Fam)
[2014] EWHC 818 (Fam) .

The judgment is being distributed on the strict understanding that in any report no person other than the advocates or the solicitors instructing them (and other persons identified by name in the judgment itself) may be identified by name or location and that in particular the anonymity of the children and the adult members of their family must be strictly preserved.

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