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UK v MH, In the Manchester Family Court, 27 July 2015

Instructions to represent the applicant (father) in connection with his application for contact with his son, 5 years old.

The parties had separated in early 2014 with respondent (mother) alleging domestic violence. She made very serious allegations including of rape and physical violence against both herself and the child.

Applicant had been privately represented by other solicitors in connection with the application which had been timetabled to a 3 day finding of fact hearing listed before a Circuit Judge. Applicant transferred his instructions to Nadat solicitors who secured exceptional case funding from the Legal Aid Agency to represent the applicant at the Finding of Fact hearing.

 


 

 



A (Children) [2009] EWCA Civ 1141

Nadat Solicitors were instructed in  a matter proceeding to the Court of Appeal following an appeal by a mother who was the primary carer of the children against an order transferring residence of three children to their father. Appeal allowed.

Summary of case :

The parties married in 1997 and had three children but, on separation, proceedings began for a defined contact order. The mother made many allegations of domestic violence which resulted in a fact-finding hearing (a withdrawal of the allegations proved short-lived). The judge rejected some of the allegations but concluded that it had been a volatile marriage with both parties to blame. She also made clear in an oral observation, after reading the judgment, that her findings were not a bar to contact. However the mother continued to obstruct any contact though just prior to the final hearing, which was also to consider a competitive application for residence by the father, the mother changed her stance allowing generous contact to the if she retained residence. In that light, the judge concluded that she could not trust the mother's change of position and so transferred residence but with equally generous contact to the mother.

In this appeal, counsel for the mother argued primarily that the judge had identified the wrong issue. While the issue of whether the mother could be trusted to sustain her change of heart was important, the crucial issue was the risk of transferring the children. Thorpe LJ agreed with that submission, especially as no detailed contact order had been made which the mother had sought to frustrate, commenting that

"The transfer of residence from the obdurate primary carer to the parent frustrated in pursuit of contact is a judicial weapon of last resort. There was hardly a need for a psychologist to establish the risks of moving these girls from mother to father....... The risks of gamesmanship from the mother in the future, confirmed in residence but nailed down with a clear detailed contact order, were plainly less, and from that essential risk balance the judge was diverted. "

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Case No: B4/2009/2108  /  Neutral Citation Number: [2009] EWCA Civ 1141
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF JUDICATURE
COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)
ON APPEAL FROM DEWSBURY COUNTY COURT (MRS RECORDER ARMITAGE)
Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: Wednesday, 7th October 2009

Appeal hearing was before:

LORD JUSTICE THORPE; LORD JUSTICE THOMAS and MR JUSTICE COLERIDGE

Representatives were :

Mr C Heaton QC and Miss J Pye (instructed by Lee and Priestley LLP) appeared on behalf of the Appellant Mother.

Mr M Rudd (instructed by Nadat Solicitors) appeared on behalf of the First Respondent, the Father.

Mr R Bickerdike (instructed by Michael George & Co) appeared on behalf of the Second, Third, and Fourth Respondents, the Children.


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