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6 years of disputing child arrangements after separation

View profile for Melanie Loxley
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The case of G (Children: intractable dispute) [2019] EWCA Civ 548 was heard by the Court of Appeal on 21 March 2019. It involves 2 children, who at the date of the hearing were aged 8 and 11.

Children Act proceedings were commenced by their mother. The parents had separated in May 2013 and those proceedings have been ongoing ever since.

The father appealed against an order made at the final hearing for supervised contact in his favour. That appeal was heard in July 2015 and, since then, the father is said to have issued 56 applications to the court, made 11 applications to discharge the children’s guardians (of which there were 4 in succession), and made 4 applications to the judge to recuse himself. There had been approximately 30 hearings during this period.

Whilst the Appeal Court did not doubt that the father loved his children dearly, sadly, his refusal to engage with the professionals appointed in the case, and his conduct of the litigation, resulted in the court concluding that the father simply could not put the best interests of the children before his own fixations and feelings of injustice.

The Court of Appeal refused to grant the father time with the children and made an order that he could make no further application to the court for 3 years.

Sadly, there are cases where involving the court with the arrangements for children is the only option, but as this case shows, these proceedings can take years to resolve. They can be hugely stressful and expensive for the parties and can have a very negative impact on the children who are at the centre of them.

The children in this case are unlikely to have any real memory of their lives, or indeed their childhood, before their mum and dad were embroiled in litigation about them. How sad is that?

This case highlights that, however difficult it might be, it is almost always going to be better for the parents to put aside their differences for the sake of their children, and work out what is in the best interests of their children when they separate.

At Birkett Long, we have a great deal of experience in resolving children issues, both where court intervention is necessary and in those cases where it is not. If you are struggling to agree what is best for your children after a relationship breakdown, why not call our team of friendly divorce and separation lawyers for a free, no obligation 15-minute chat. I am a family solicitor based in our Colchester office and can be contacted on 01206 217384 or mel.loxley@birkettlong.co.uk.

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