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(Family Division; Bodey J; 12 October 2005)
The mother sought a review of the order which defined her contact with the children. During the preliminary stages the CAFCASS officer became aware that the mother was HIV-positive. Although the officer did not refer to the mother's health in the report prepared for the court, the mother was concerned that the issue might arise, and applied ex parte for a direction that her positive HIV status need not be disclosed to the father. The Family Proceedings Court had directed the mother to disclose the fact of her HIV status to the father, on the ground that openness was essential. Bodey J held this was one of the rare cases where an ex parte application was appropriate and that, exceptionally, notice of the application to withhold the information concerned need not be given to the father's solicitors. Disclosure of the mother's HIV status was neither necessary nor appropriate, given the very limited issue that existed between the parties. It was very personal information going to no live issue and was not relevant to the case. Nothing suggested that the welfare of the children would be improved or maintained by disclosure and much suggested that disclosure might be detrimental to their relationship with their mother.
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