R (A Child) Re  EWCA Civ 1664 (03 December 2014)
This Judgment related to an Appeal by the Appellant father of an Order made on 20/01/14 in respect of his child, R. This Order stated that the child should reside with the mother and that the previous Orders made for indirect Contact between the father and the child be discharged. the Order also provided that the child make Contact with the father as she considered appropriate.
The background to the initial Application was that the father had been having regular Contact with the child when the parties initially separated, but that this contact greatly reduced and stopped in April 2005, after the mother moved areas. A previous Application by the father for Contact was ultimately dismissed in February 2006, after the father failed to attend several hearings. The father did not make any further steps to seek Contact with the child until current proceedings in May 2012. During the course of these proceedings indirect Contact had been Ordered, however the mother reported that the child was putting the unopened correspondence from the father in the bin. A CAFCASS report was commissioned in which it was reported that the child did not wish to have any Contact with the father. At the final hearing the Judge accepted that there was nothing to suggest that the child would come to any personal or physical harm if Contact was Ordered, however it was clear that the child did not wish for this to happen and the CAFCASS officer stated that if the Contact was Ordered this would have a depressing effect on the child. The Judge therefore took the opinion of the CAFCASS officer and discharged the previous Order for indirect Contact.
In respect of the father’s Appeal, Lord Justice Christopher Clarke in his Judgment stated it was correct to describe the Order of 20/01/14 as Draconian as it precluded all Contact between the father and the child unless the child chose otherwise. The Order did not provide any provision which would encourage Contact if the child failed to make that choice. It was also stated that there had been failure to consider alternatives, especially as no evidence had been presented of possible steps to promote Contact. It was therefore Ordered that the father’s Appeal be allowed and that the order for No Contact be set aside. The matter was listed for a a CMH on 22/12/14 before His Honour Judge Powles QC with evidence to be filed in relation to any services, support or assistance that may be available to enable the re-introduction of Contact.
The full Judgment can be read here.