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Family Law

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18 JUN 2007

CONTACT/RESIDENCE: Re A (Residence Order)

(Court of Appeal; Wilson LJ and Hedley J; 15 June 2007)

The 8-year-old child lived with the mother and had contact with the father under a court order. The mother was very hostile towards the contact, and interfered with and frustrated the father's contact sessions over a long period. Eventually the father issued an application for a transfer of residence. A psychological assessment of the mother suggested that the mother was suffering from a personality disorder, and that the mother's dispute with the father would eventually lead to psychological problems for the child. The report also stated that the mother was incapable of reforming her behaviour, and had no insight into it. The independent social worker indicated that the assessment had led him to conclude that the child should live with the father, and that, notwithstanding the child's excellent relationship with the mother, by reference to the mother's actions the mother was incapable of parenting the child sufficiently well. The judge considered that the mother was a good mother, but that in relation to contact her behaviour was appalling, and that the father was a good father who could provide for the child's needs. The judge concluded that the child should live with the father, as that would be in his best long-term interests.

The court dismissed the mother's appeal, noting that expert evidence from two sources had made strong recommendations that it was in the child's best interests that his residence be changed. Evidence of the mother's good parenting had been taken into account; it was not enough for the mother to complain that it had not been given sufficient weight. Although the child wanted to live with the mother, the child's long-term interests outweighed the short-term problems he would face in making the move. The judge had presided over the case for over 2 years and had had a good opportunity to engage in the problems surrounding contact and there was no ground upon which the decision could be interfered with.

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