D (Children)  EWCA 496 Civ
Appeal by mother against residence order in favour of paternal grandparents following intractable contact dispute. Appeal dismissed.
The case concerned two boys: T, 12 years old, and N, almost 10. Their father had been found by a circuit judge to have sexually abused his stepdaughter, the boys' half-sister. The father throughout claimed his innocence. The mother, who the court said was in every other respect admirable, developed 'a complete obsession' that any contact between the boys and their paternal family was to be avoided. That included their paternal grandparents.
According to expert evidence, the children were were being forced by their mother's obsessional beliefs to accept her belief though they did not believe it themselves. The experts feared for the psychological development of the children and considered that abandoning T to the pressures of his mother's belief system ran the risk of emotionally crippling him so that he would be unable to form trusting relationships with others.
The judge at first instance left the boys with their mother, provided they had regular contact with their grandparents, and the question of contact with their father, which would be indirect initially, could be reconsidered at a later point.
The mother appealed unsuccessfully against the contact order. Subsequently the judge made a contact order in favour of the father but the mother refused to implement. In default of the mother fulfilling the terms of that order a residence order was granted in favour of the grandparents.
This judgment concerns the mother's application, out of time, for permission to appeal against that order. Wall LJ, considering the exercise of the judge's discretion, says that it was faultless. The judge had conducted a welfare balancing exercise and concluded that placing the children with the grandparents represented the best hope for the children growing up with any degree of normality.
The full judgment can reviewed at: http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed58393