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Court of appeal upholds no contact order

The Court of Appeal has restated an order of no contact, on the grounds that meeting with the father causes emotional distress to the mother and son.
The “tragic” case involves a 12-year-old boy, whose parents separated in 2005. There was initially regular contact between father and son, which was described as “positive”. However, contact broke down in 2006 and became sporadic, though still positive when it did occur. A recommendation was made to maintain contact, pending further investigation in 2007, but the father withdrew his application on the grounds that it caused stress to the mother – something he later described as the “most ill-advised decision of his life”.
Four years later, the question came to determination but the mother had developed an increasingly hostile view of the father, which was now fully shared by the son. She constantly told her son that the father was dangerous. The mother suffered from severe anxiety and had been assessed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. A psychologist gave evidence that contact would likely not succeed due to the length of time since the last meeting.
The judge voiced his view that the father was a “calm, thoughtful and caring” man who did not present a risk to his son. McFarlane LJ stated that “it is and should be a given that it will normally be in the best interests of a child to grow up having a full, real and entirely ordinary relationship with each of his or her parents, notwithstanding that they have separated and that there may be difficulties between the two of them as adults.” The court nevertheless dismissed the application for contact and change of residence on the grounds of implacable hostility. The mother was considered to be emotionally and psychologically vulnerable and the boy consistently refused to meet his father. It is a very unusal case for there to be no contact between a child and parent. Despite this decision Judges are very much of the opinion that contact between a child and its parent should take place wherever possible .

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