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X-box mother – the judgment

 

You may have read about the children who in private law proceedings were taken away from their mother and placed with their father, the headline being that she was found to be too permissive, had spent too much time in bed and the children had spent too much time playing on their X-box. It was on Radio 5 this morning, in quite a balanced way, and in the Telegraph yesterday, here.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10643643/Mother-loses-custody-battle-over-permissive-parenting-style.html

You will see from that account that the children were removed from the mother because of her ‘permissive attitude towards parenting’ and because she was letting the children spend too much time playing on their X-boxes. To be fair to the Telegraph reporting, it  does quote quite a lot from the judgment AND bothers to ask a family lawyer to provide some context as to the circumstances in which the Courts change residence, so it isn’t actually a bad report of the case.  It  at least makes an effort to get some of the facts and to understand the principles. Not something that’s always true of press reports on family cases. cough.

 

But, if you believe that these children were taken away from mother and placed with father because she was a bit slack with discipline and let the children play on their X-boxes too much, well in the words of Ben Goldacre “I’m afraid you’ll find its a bit more complicated than that”

In these days of transparency, we can see the judgment itself, here

RS v SS 2013  http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2013/B33.html

And again, to be fair to the press reports, there is mention in there of X-Boxes, but rather more in the context of the mother appearing to be depressed, of withdrawing from the care of the children and the children being left to their own devices (pardon the pun).   One of the things that you pick up is that even from the Judge’s conclusions and findings that are set out below, there’s far more content than could comfortably fit into a newspaper article, and it is not a great surprise that one or two elements of the raft of issues were the ones that were highlighted.  For reasons of space, and pace, and hooks and drama, newspaper reports of family Court decisions tend to be flattened out and compressed and you can form a different impression than when you read the whole case.  That’s not necessarily the fault of the reporters – even a short judgment is dense, packed with concepts and long. It is something that we are going to encounter more and more as more judgments get published, but at least now readers can actually turn to see for themselves what the Judge actually did. [The X-box paragraph is 107]

FINDINGS IN RELATION TO THE PARENTS

    1. As must be clear from some of the findings that I have rehearsed along the way in this judgment, I found the father to be an honest witness, and, where the parents’ evidence differed, I undoubtedly preferred his evidence to that of the mother. His frustration and distress at this long-standing situation were palpable during his oral evidence. He has been tenacious to the extent of being dogged in his pursuit of a relationship with his sons. I do not criticise him for his tenacity. Many fathers would have given up by now. He has, in my view, demonstrated far better insight into the needs of his teenage and pre-teenage boys, for example, around issues of guidance and boundaries, than the mother. Their parenting styles are very different. He is much more in favour of structure, boundaries and discipline, and I can understand why the boys might baulk at that, given what I consider to have been the very permissive atmosphere in which they have lived at home. He is totally committed to his sons. He has given his proposals a great deal of thought, and I was impressed with the breadth of the proposals and their depth. I was impressed with how he said he would deal with difficulties, for example, if either of the boys ran away. His analysis of what he saw facing the boys if they stayed with their mother was insightful.

 

    1. My only minor criticism of him – and I stress that it is minor – is that he may sometimes have handled situations somewhat maladroitly or clumsily in the past, for example the knocking repeatedly at the door. But he did, I stress, take advice when the Guardian spoke to him. I recognise also that he was between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, his tenacity was alienating the boys further but, on the other hand, if he did not attend with the tenacity he did, no doubt it would have been represented to the boys by their mother that he did not care about them. I make a minor criticism that he turned up on 8th December with the whole family. My intention had been that it would just be him and his parents, so that he could have one-to-one time with his boys, but it is a minor criticism. As I have said, he has frequently been between a rock and a hard place and cannot do right whichever way he goes. The boys found it embarrassing his attending at their schools, but the court had endorsed that and, as I said, if he did not attend, he would be equally culpable in their eyes.

 

    1. So, overall, I consider that, as I have said, he has a good understanding of what these boys need and he is, in my judgment, up to the challenges that a change of residence would entail. I consider he has extensive support not only from his partner but also from the paternal extended family. I have no doubt that they will give him as much support as they can bring.

 

    1. I will turn now to my finding about the mother. I found the mother to be a very angry and wilful woman. Her hated of the father is almost pathological. In my judgment, this is likely to have its origins in the circumstances of the breakdown of their marriage: the father leaving when CD was but a few weeks’ old, and her belief that the father had already begun an affair with SB. That has been fuelled, in my judgment, by financial issues, in particular the mother’s assertion, which has not been tested in these proceedings, that the father walked away with all the funds obtained by re-mortgaging the marital home. In her oral evidence, she accused him of adultery and of fraud on her. The years have done nothing to abate this anger. I consider that the fact that the father has made a new life, when she does not appear to have really moved on, has further fired her up. She also asserts that he has years of unpaid maintenance and, again, this is simply an allegation which was not pursued in evidence. To cap it all, from her point of view, the father has now had the nerve to apply for a change of residence. So preoccupied is she with her own sense of grievance that she completely overlooks the effect of her behaviour on her children. In my judgment, she has prioritised her own needs and feelings at the expense of the needs of her children. That is not to say that she does not love her children, I have no doubt her does, although I find her love to have something of a possessive quality about it.

 

    1. A key example, a glaring example of her prioritising her own needs was the parents’ evening when her behaviour was petty, childish and petulant. She has done nothing to shield the children from the fallout, rather, the converse. She has consistently and repeatedly put them in the centre of this dispute and has used them, or their contact, as a weapon against the father. In my view, her anger is always ready to spill over into uncontrollable rage at the slightest perceived provocation. This was clearly demonstrated by the voicemails. I am quite satisfied that, contrary to her denials, there have been numerous occasions when the father has been exposed to outbursts like these. I reject her evidence that the children have not been exposed to such outbursts other than during the September 2012 phone call, which led to the child protection referral.

 

    1. In my judgment, she has either been untruthful in her evidence when she says that she has done everything to promote contact, or she is in denial about the concerns. Her evidence was characterised by denial and minimising, and she showed no insight into the harm she has caused the boys. Indeed, I found her complacent about the educational issues and that she minimised the concerns about lateness, homework and general progress. I agree with the Guardian that she has not got to the point where she can acknowledge that anything is wrong, and it is difficult to see, in those circumstances, how a change can be effected. It is sometimes referred to as the pre-contemplation stage of change.

 

    1. I consider it also to be quite likely that she may be depressed to a greater or lesser degree. I accept the evidence of AB, as related to CH, that she does spend hours under the duvet, on the phone or using her iPad, and that the children are left to their own devices. It also seems to me to be likely, from what the father and AB said, that they are spending a lot of time playing on their own on their Xboxes. I cannot imagine why AB would say such things to CH unless they were true, given his loyalty to his mother. As I said, they tie in with father’s perception of the situation. I consider, in fact, that it might have been very helpful to have had a psychological assessment of the mother. I agree entirely with the Guardian that the children have done what so frequently happens in such a dispute: to remove themselves from the conflict which is painful and distressing to them, they have firmly aligned themselves with one side, and that is always likely to be the primary carer who is providing for their day-to-day material and emotional needs, and rejected the other parent. This is their attempt at self-protection, and in that view I am at one with the Guardian.

 

    1. This is, however, in my view, a profoundly unhelpful coping mechanism from the point of view of their own emotional development. A child should not be forced to choose one parent over the other. Further, in my judgment, by all her sayings and doings, the mother has exhibited, with capital letters, her negative feelings for the father, which have been adopted wholesale by the children and particularly CD, who has not got the same pre-existing link with his father. The children have been wholly inappropriately drawn into the court proceedings. They have been allowed to read the report of BH, and their statements to BH and indeed to me make this absolutely clear. They talked to me about the meal with their father and the grandparents being a biased test and about seeing the grandparents as strengthening the father’s case. They talk in the language of court proceedings and tactics. I note that AB said to the Guardian: “He is tactically lying in court. Technically he is harassing us”. As I have said, it is quite plain that the mother has exposed to them to the details of the court proceedings. Because their information has come solely from her, they have a wholly distorted view of what is going on, and lay the blame at their father for their discomfort at having been involved in these proceedings for many months and having to be interviewed by different people. That is because, as I have said, they have been presented with a wholly distorted picture.

 

    1. The mother is a powerful personality. She presents as tough and somewhat arrogant. She seemed to me to show no regret for or insight into her behaviour in her evidence. Her expressions of regret, for example, for the voicemail messages and other incidents, referring to them as “not being an ideal situation”, I found to be half-hearted and unconvincing. I considered the regret related more to the fact that they showed her in a bad light. I agree that in her evidence she repeatedly sought to deflect the question, and at times was argumentative. At other times her evidence was self-justifying and minimising. There was not really a chink in the armour until she showed some signs of distress right at the end. Whether and how far her face to the world is a defence mechanism is hard to say. I consider another explanation for her behaviour may well also be her fear that she will lose her children, who are the central focus of her life. I note that in the father’s position statement, made in March of this year, he reports that AB said that his mother was apparently worried about losing them. I do not consider that she understands the importance of a relationship with both parents for a child’s healthy, emotional development.

 

    1. The mother has failed also, in my judgment, to meet the children’s needs in other important respects. She has, in my judgment, consistently failed to meet their educational needs and therefore risks compromising in particular AB’s educational prospects. It is likely that CD would be in the same situation as he grew older. I consider that she does have a very permissive style of parenting, and I accept the father’s evidence that she is more like a friend than a parent. I am satisfied that there is a failure to provide proper guidance and boundaries essential for the social and emotional development of these pre-adolescent and adolescent boys.

 

    1. Further, I have real concerns about her as a role model. I agree with the Guardian that she turns on anyone who challenges her or does not seem to agree with her. Examples are the Guardian herself and CH. She has effectively said that they are lying or have been lying. She was going to change AB’s school after the referral, despite his being settled at the school and it being a good school. I consider that these attitudes are picked up by the boys, especially AB. I consider that AB was reflecting the mother’s belief when he referred to CH as a liar when he saw me, and I find that their hostility to BH has been largely due to their following the example provided by the mother. I note her evidence that she did have the beginnings of a relationship with them when she first met them, but then the door was firmly closed. I find the mother allowed the boys to be profoundly disrespectful to both the father and BH when she did not take them to task for poking them both with the crutch from the cab in August of this year. On other occasions the father has reported the boys shouting abuse to him when he attended contact, and in April holding up a sign telling the father “I’ve told you a million times to fuck off. Go away you gay bastard”. This behaviour went unchecked by the mother. In fact, so far as the April incident is concerned, the mother was challenged by the father, and laughed. This lack of respect for the father and other adults is profoundly unhelpful to these boys, both now and in later life, for example, in a job situation or when they are in disagreement with anyone in authority. Further, the mother has no respect or regard for the father as a father.

 

    1. I am sad to come to the conclusion that I find on all these fronts this mother has significantly failed these boys. Their views across the board faithfully reflect hers. Their repeated complaints of being dragged through the courts by the father are a precise echo of the mother’s own words. Any decision I make has to have their welfare as my paramount concern, and I have to apply the welfare checklist set out in section 1(3) of the Children Act. I have to consider first of all, the boys’ wishes and feelings. In this regard I have been referred to some helpful case law as to how to approach children’s expressed wishes and feelings in a situation where there has been alienation. In particular I have been referred to the case of Re S [2010] EWHC 192, a decision of His Honour Judge Bellamy sitting as a Deputy High Court judge. In the headnote to the case at (2) it states:

 

“Section 1(3)(a) of the Children Act 1989 did not permit the court to pay no regard to the clearly and consistently expressed wishes and feelings of a child, but such wishes and feelings were to be assessed in the light of his age and understanding, in particular the impact of alienation upon the reliability of the child’s wishes and feelings, and some modest signs that his expressed views might not in fact reflect his true feelings were matters to be taken into account when assessing the weight to be attached to his expressed wishes and feelings.”

    1. At para.69 of the judgment, the learned judge said this:

 

“S’s wishes and feelings must be assessed in accordance with his age and understanding. It is here that the assessment becomes more difficult. I have found that S has become alienated from his father. S has said that his father is a ‘monster’ and that he ‘hates’ him. It is clear from Dr. W’s evidence that such behaviour fits within the pattern of behaviour of children who have become alienated from their non-resident parent. In his report of 18th July 2008 Dr. W was very clear. He said that

‘It is also important for both parents and for all professionals working with the child to recognise that the child’s expressed wishes and feelings are irrational and should form no part in the Court’s decision making.’

70. The law requires that the court should take account of S’s wishes and feelings. It would be wrong, therefore, for me to pay no regard at all to the views which S has so clearly and consistently expressed. The Act, UNCRC and case law all emphasise the importance of listening to and respecting the wishes of the child. As a general proposition I accept that the older the child the greater the respect that should be accorded to his or her wishes and feelings. As Butler-Sloss LJ said in re S… a case involving two children aged 13 and 11,

‘Nobody should dictate to children of this age, because one is dealing with their emotions, their lives and they are not packages to be moved around. They are people entitled to be treated with respect.’

I cannot and do not ignore S’s expressed wishes and feelings. However, in the light of Dr. W’s evidence, it would be equally inappropriate for me to proceed on the basis that those expressed wishes and feelings should necessarily be taken at face value. They need to be assessed in the light of S’s age and understanding. The impact of alienation upon the reliability of those wishes and feelings and the signs (albeit modest) that they may not in fact reflect his true feelings, are matters to be taken into account when assessing the weight to be attached to them.”

    1. That judgment was expressly approved in the more recent Court of Appeal decision of Re A [2013] EWCA (Civ) 1104. At para.68, Lord Justice McFarlane said this:

 

“The evaluation of the weight to be given to the expressed wishes and feelings of a teenage child in situations where the parent with care is intractably hostile to contact is obviously not a straightforward matter, no matter how consistently or firmly those wishes are expressed. In this context, the decision of HHJ Bellamy in Re S… provides a good illustration.”

    1. I take into account all those observations in my evaluation of the wishes and feelings of the children. I have very much at the forefront of my mind that I am dealing with two young men, aged 14 and 11 respectively. Their expressed wishes and feelings have consistently been not to see or have a relationship with their father. Indeed, as the Guardian says, their views appear to have hardened over time, and I note the penultimate report of the Guardian as to how AB referred to his father. I have to evaluate how reliable those expressed wishes and feelings are.

 

    1. It is a consistent theme throughout all the reports of BH and her predecessor from CAFCASS that the wishes and feelings expressed are a result of the mother’s negative influence and/or are derived from loyalties to the mother and from being provided with inappropriate and often misleading information about the court proceedings. For example, the boys blame their father for not being able to travel to Z last December. What they did not appreciate, as they only had their mother’s side, was the reason behind the court imposing the prohibition, namely the mother’s behaviour and her threats to remove them. The mother’s unhappiness at being, as she put it, dragged to court, has clearly been communicated to the boys, and they then express this as being the reason for their anger with the father. I have referred to the work done with the boys by the CAFCASS officer. Again, they could not appreciate that the reason for the repeated court hearings was the behaviour of their mother. They also referred to their father lying in court. Otherwise, it is a consistent theme that they could give no adequate reason why they did not want to see their father, and they would refer to historic incidents, which the father in any event denies, and which the Guardian concludes would not in any event lead them to have the apparent hatred that they have expressed of their father.

 

    1. AB sent his mother a long list of complaints about his father by an email sent at 3.22 in the morning on 16th August. He said it had been prepared some time before. I am unclear how that came about. What he said in the email to BH and to me was about the father being aggressive. In her statement, the mother said this referred to two incidents in contact going back to 2004 and 2005. AB refers to an incident in 2012 when the father allegedly dragged him on to an underground train, and he referred to lies being told to his school and Social Services. As I have said, CH told me exactly what AB said to her, leading to the social care referral. My concern is that both these boys have a distorted view of the reality. Some of the complaints they make, or AB makes in his email, such as hardly having any food and doing practically nothing at his father’s I simply do not accept. It is also a factor that these boys worry about the mother. They see the proceedings as causing her stress and, because they have been manipulated by the mother, they blame the father for this.

 

    1. In my judgment, their consistent expressed wishes and feelings are not reliable for a number of reasons. Firstly, because I accept the Guardian’s view that AB does not feel hate for his father inside. Glimpses of the real AB have been available during these proceedings at different stages. I note the evidence is that he relaxes once he has been with his father for a period of time. The wishes and feelings are not reliable for these reasons. Firstly, these boys have been manipulated by their mother and greatly influenced by her in their views of their father. Also they have aligned themselves with her in the mechanism I have described to protect themselves from the ongoing dispute. Further, they have a wholly distorted view of the reality of the situation because the information they have received has come from one source, their mother, and therefore, despite their ages, in particular the age of AB, I do not consider that their wishes and feelings are reliable. CD, who does not have the same attachment to his father, I consider is simply mirroring what his mother says about his father, and that this situation therefore is akin to the situation faced by His Honour Judge Bellamy in considering the wishes and feelings of the child in the case before him.

 

    1. I consider that if these children had emotional permission to have a relationship with their father, they would be able to do so, and that has been shown to a small degree by the fact that they have been able to have contact on these two occasions, albeit with some difficulties.

 

  1. Turning to the particular characteristics of these boys, I do not think either boy is a particularly happy boy. Of course in part that is due to the ongoing nature of these proceedings, but I consider it is due centrally to the parental conflict, where they find themselves as innocent parties in the middle. I consider that the boys are guarded. It is no coincidence that neither interacts with adults at the school. I find that they are both anxious about the mother’s reactions should they speak out of turn. I find it likely, for example, that AB said to his mother that CH upset him by talking to him in school to appease her and/or deflect her questioning, because CH’s view of it was that he seemed quite relieved to have someone to talk to.

 

You can see from that, that the initial impression you might have gained about the case – that mum was a bit lazy and let the children spend more time on their X-boxes than a middle-class parent might think was appropriate and that’s why the children were taken away from her and placed with dad – well, it was a bit more complicated than that.   [The extract above hasn’t even included the time the mother had the father arrested and detained for 18 hours because he knocked on her door]

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About suesspiciousminds

Law geek, local authority care hack, fascinated by words and quirky information; deeply committed to cheesecake and beer.

59 responses

  1. This is so classic a case, in which Parental Alienation Syndrome aka PAS is used as an argument against parent without ever mentioning the actual words – PAS.

    To correct you and all other “legal experts” – this is the classic line of argument in residence change and even care orders; it is frequently and routinely used against mothers. You should know better really suesspiciousminds.

    The judge is very much carried by her own feelings and opinions on women and morals and child raisng, and even speculates about the mother’s mental health (“she may be depressed”) without having actual evidence in her judgment. As far as I can see it – no expert was involved here at any step.

    The mother hopefully finds the strength to appeal this appaling judgment.

  2. These extracts only reinforce the fact that as Rote Mutter remarks this is a truly appalling judgement.The judge seems amazed that the mother is still resentful because the father remortgaged the house and cleared off with the proceeds 11 years ago and since then paid not a penny in child support ! Not tested ie not denied in that court;Talk about role models….
    4 police dragged the boys out of bed at 7.45am Xmas morning and took them away to the father so they could not even open their xmas presents! If the judge chose that time and day what sort of role model was she.??
    The boys were doing extra well at their school and were in advance ot their years but were ripped away from school and friends to be with a father who they allege continiually hit them causing the to run away so many times already that the boys have now been placed with the paternal grandparents !
    If indeed a mother spends a lot of time in bed and allows her son freedom to stay up late with their computers that is HER FAMILY LIFE CHOICE and no reason for others to break it up because they disagree.The boys have no criminal record or history of disruptive behaviour up to now so how can she be judged to have harmed them?
    This judge made a cruel and incredible decision that should be reversed immediately on appeal.

  3. Richard "Use Carter Brown for your expert witnesses" Chamberes.

    I find it distasteful that even the judge – who should be above such things – should refer to Microsoft’s branding. Why couldn’t he (and suesspicious minds) refer to “games console”?

    You could say it’s become a byword like Hoover, but I’d counter that the term Playstation is more widely used and has been around a lot longer – and equally inappropriate for the court.

    It seems a remarkable coincidence that this case garners such publicity whilst Microsoft are so heavily involved in their “console war” against Sony.

    • I know people say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but I don’t know that the way that this case has been spun by the media (let your kids play too much X-box and they’ll get taken away from you) is exactly what Microsoft would be after.

      The Judge was recording a factual observation from the evidence (there was no reason to think, when delivering the judgment that this would be the lead detail seized on by the Press and no real good reason to anonymise the nature of the electronic device). As for me, well I am making it plain that there’s a bit more to the actual decision of the Court than one might think from the media summaries and the “x-box” angle is pertinent to that. (Even if you read the judgment and still disagree with the decision, as people have here, at least know that the press take on it was somewhat superficial)

  4. Ashamed to be British

    Hedley J in Re L (Care: Threshold Criteria) (Family Division 26 October 2006)

    ?????

    • A fair and good point, Sandy. I suppose the answer to that is :-

      (a) rather different principles apply, as this is private law, and the Court is deciding whether the children might be better off with their father
      (b) enough in the judgment to meet threshold anyway, following the Supreme Court in Re B

      But yes, if this were a care case, I would agree (just as I didn’t think threshold was crossed in Re B – but I was wrong, because the Supreme Court disagreed with me)

      • Ashamed to be British

        Why would the fact of private law v public law make a difference? The children are still being harmed emotionally by the separation from their mother and handed to an abuser.

        (this is a genuine question)

      • Annoyingly, I can’t reply to your reply Sandy, so it will go here. On the facts of the case, the Judge had to balance the emotional harm that she found the children were suffering in mother’s care (having heard the evidence and read everything) against the emotional harm that removal would cause to them. She found that the balance fell in favour of changing residence.

        The reason why Hedley’s remarks aren’t that useful in a private law context is because they are really meaning that in a choice between a parent and the State, the parent should prevail unless the care is sufficiently harmful. The fact that the Court might believe that the child would have a better, more ‘normal’ life in the care of the State should not come into it at all.

        But in a private law context, all the Court is doing is weighing up in which parents care the child’s welfare would be better met. So in a case like that, things that would not cross the threshold for a change of placement from parent to State COULD be a reason for preferring that the child live with father rather than mother.

        In public law, it is not a choice between what is BEST of two options, but whether the State’s intervention is warranted (by reference to threshold and welfare checklist), whereas in private law the Judge can compare the two parents and decide that the child should live with either. (In practice, the status quo argument counts for quite a lot in private law, so a change of residence does usually require some strong reasons, but not as high as threshold)

      • Ashamed to be British

        thank you for clarification. I’m particularly peeved about an ongoing private law case I’m dealing with atm, whereby the judge handed the child over to the abusive father (with plenty of evidence)
        I was planning to use RE L but may rethink …

      • This might help – it is a decent article setting out the balancing act a judge needs to do when considering a change of residence and points out some of the pitfalls (particularly with older children). It’s from 2010, but the cases are still relevant. http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed57393

      • Ashamed to be British

        Again, thank you.
        The case could have been written about the client & family to be fair (it isn’t the same case) … however the judge refused all contact with the suicidal son and father, on the grounds of emotional and physical abuse, yet gave him full residency of the 7 year old girl who he is emotionally abusing and brainwashing.
        It defies belief
        Not only is the case virtually exactly the same, but strangely, it is also in Kent !!

  5. One of the key problems in this case is indeed that PAS / Parental Alienation was used as the underlying ideological principal in the Judge’s arguments against the mother. This is also why Booker got interested in this case I assume, as PAS is (covertly) argumented over and over again in cases (against mothers who “obstruct” contact), without it being an actual recognized official diagnosis of any sorts. PAS is the ideological elephant in the room, in this case and many others.

    When guided by an ideological principal all is filtered to please the ideology; in this case the judge approached the case with the aim to order a change of residence with limited contact for the mother. The entire argument of the judgment builds to this end. Actual evidence of the children’s welfare having been injured is missing, instead the case is based on personal opinions and a selective choice of evidence to meet the intention of the judge. The judge worked the law so to speak, but did not serve justice in my opinion.

    The judge displays for example a high degree of verbal hostility towards the mother in her judgment and nothing good that the mother ever did (such as returning from the mysterious land called “Z”) could have been ever good enough, and so it was simply dropped under the judge’s table. And so was also all the bad that the father ever did (such as not paying any child support) dropped under the table, because this is how it suited the judge’s ideology and intention in this case. The judge, Laura Harris, is unfortunately known to construct her cases – almost all against women – in such a manner.

    Granted, all this back and forth between waring parents is tiring and confusing, and always distracting from the truth and most of all the children, so let’s look at the boys. How did they do? According to the judgement they were not willing to go with the father. Unsurprising, because they did not wish to leave their mother. In the end the forced seperation from their mother will do more harm to them then having irregular contact with their father. They will be future clients of the Family Justice System one is tempted to assume.

    • Ashamed to be British

      Indeed, I’ve got a case at the moment, judge is well known to pro father, so has separated siblings purely because father says the very young child doesn’t want to live with mother any more, he as discarded the sec 7 recommendations that child should live with mother and that the play therapist, social worker and other professionals have ‘grave concerns’ that father is physically rough with his children, and is brainwashing the child into saying she doesn’t want to go home. He has repeatedly refused to return child after contact therefore is in contempt of court.

      Judge refused to hear mothers evidence and relied on hearsay evidence put before him by the father, he just handed the child over to father regardless to the obvious damage being done

  6. Pingback: X-box mother – the judgment | Children In...

  7. POSTSCRIPT TO JUDGMENT added by the judge herself !

    The hearing concluded late on 23rd December 2013 which was far from ideal but unavoidable. I ordered that the mother take the boys to the paternal grandparents by 2pm on 24th December. She refused to comply with the court order. Late afternoon on 24th December the father made an urgent application to Cobb J by telephone for a collection order. He had a note of this judgment. The application had the support of the Guardian. The police failed in a timely way to assist the Tipstaff to enforce the order. The result was that the paternal grandparents spent the whole night of 24th December at the police station and the collection order was not enforced until early Christmas morning. This too was unfortunate and unavoidable. The mother brought this situation on the boys.

    The official “postscript” above claims the mother “refused to comply with the court order” to take the boys to the grandparents 50 miles away in Essex on Xmas eve ! The mother is slim and short, One son is aged14 ,3 inches taller than his mother and much heavier,his brother is 11 and also well built ! Was she really expected to carry them both by force when the boys refused to go ?Indeed it tooK 4 burly policemen the best part of Xmas morning to drag the boys out of bed to leave the mother they had lived with for 11+ years to travel 50 struggling miles to be with a father who hit them continually……5 police incidents reported to date since Xmas…….
    Incidentally,the “teacher” who falsely claimed in court that the boys were doing badly in their schoolwork had never actually taught either boy otherwise it would have been obvious that in fact they were both doing very well !

  8. That same “teacher” testified to the judge who related what was said as follows:-

    “She then referred to the parents’ evening in April of this year. Her description is at p.D44m. She described the situation as horrendous. She said that it must have been extremely embarrassing for AB. What she described was mother plainly being very angry about the fact that the father had attended. AB and mother would arrive at a member of staff, father would follow, the meeting would begin, mother would position her chair very pointedly away from father to the extent that other parents could be heard making comments. She described AB looking very uncomfortable, and father standing or sitting as close as he could to hear what the subject teacher was saying. Once the mother had finished her discussion with the staff member, she immediately left taking AB, even if father was still asking questions. She would go to the next teacher without father and he would then be peering over the large hall trying to locate them. She said the emotional impact on AB was visible. He looked extremely anxious and embarrassed, as many of his peers were able to witness this, and it was clear that other adults were picking up and commenting on the behaviours. She then went to speak to father, who was clearly upset and embarrassed, and suggested that he should leave and see the teachers separately, to which he agreed.

    She, as I have said, in oral evidence described this evening as “horrendous and horrific”, “very childish.” She said that it was obvious to staff members and other parents what was going on, and she said:

    “I have never been in a school and seen behaviour like that to the detriment of a child. There was no untoward behaviour by the father.”

    One thing this lady omitted to say; SHE DID NOT ATTEND THE PARENTS EVENING !!!!!
    She relied entirely on GOSSIP !!

    • Forcedadoption, you seem to know alot of other information about these boys…height weight etc you obviously know the mother and sons. However, you are also relying on gossip for your evidence. Where you there to see the father continously beat the children ? Did you get a copy of their school report to see their grades ? And did you get a copy of school attendance record ? Probably not. So stop spreading lies. The mother is probably fat and tall. 5 police incidences reported since christmas, was it the sons who reported them or was it neighbours, the father, or the local cat !

      • I am fairly sure that Forced Adoption is gaining his information directly, but we’re not going to go down a path of drip feeding information about the case that is outside of the published facts.

        The mother has her option to appeal the decision if she doesn’t like it.

        And it is reasonable and fair that people discuss their opinions as to whether the Judge was right in this case and whether too much weight was given to the difficulties with contact, or whether Parental Alienation Syndrome was a factor in the decision (or whether it even exists at all). That’s all fair game.

        But I am not keen on publishing information that lays outside of the judgment (nor allegations against the father), just because Forced Adoption has been told it by one of the parties. Whilst Forced Adoption lives outside of the jurisdiction of the English law, I don’t. He can write what he chooses about this or other cases on his own website, hosted in Monaco.

  9. Fair enough if you don’t believe me;so let’s rely on undisputed facts ! (I do promise on my honour however that mum IS small and slim and the 14 year old IS 3 inches taller and much heavier!);Whatever their relative sizes judge Harris was not truthful when she said the mother “refused” to comply with the court order to send them 50 miles away to the grandparents;there was no record of any refusal,and no dispute that they did not want to go or that it took 4 uniformed police to drag them from their beds on xmas morning (nice timing!Mrs HARRIS JUST COULD NOT WAIT ONE MORE DAY ) so they could not open their presents and 4 police forcibly took them to their grandparents 50 + miles away !
    Let us say that dad did not hit his children and that the two boys do spend a lot of time on the internet with their friends whilst mum keeps tactfully out of the way upstairs……..
    Is that really a reason to uproot 2 boys from school ,friends, and the only parent who had looked after them for 11years to put them with a father who did not pay child support? (not denied in court but mother was blamed for resenting dad for financial reasons!).I suggest at 14 and 11 these boy know who they want to live with and where.
    I agree contact with dad should be regular and I am sure that if the boys were faced with a clear choice of agreeing to regular contact or living with dad all the time if they refused contact they would agree at once to see him;Family Court judges love to come down like a ton of bricks on one side or the other instead of negotiating acceptable compromises between warring parents (private law) or between parents and social workers (public law);

  10. Parents play with fire in private law cases and risk losing their children to social services, never mind the other parent.

    I think its very dangerous to make assumptions about a private law case based on one side of the story, which is from that person’s perspective and perception of the situation, which is usually prejudiced by them against the other parent and is usually not the reality of the situation but an interpretation of reality, how close that is to the truth depends on the person and the circumstances.

    On saying that its the minority of cases that all hell breaks loose in and that’s partly the courts fault for not dealing with cases firmly enough from the off, but allowing cases to proceed down a path of destruction.

    Although I like Christopher Booker’s take on public law, social services and the “care” system, private law cases are a whole different ball game.

    Booker said this in his article about this case,

    “Why is it that, in so many cases I have followed in recent years where complaints of abuse are made against a father, judges seem so keen to remove children from the mother who has brought them up, to hand them over to the care of the father? This has become such a common pattern that, if only the new head of the Family Division, Lord Justice Munby, can succeed in his admirable campaign to expose the workings of our family courts to “the glare of publicity”, it may come to be recognised as one of the more disturbing features of how this system seems too often to have gone off the rails.”

    Transparency and the publication of judgements is a positive step, although people may not like what they find, especially in private law cases but it will help to dispel some of the myths propagated by extreme elements, although the “evidence” will still not be seen (the same could be said for public law cases, but people will see the grounds that children were adopted by force on, which will raise questions about our society and government). Booker puts it cautiously , where others put it more crudely and say the children have been put with an abuser, which is not true,they have been put with alleged abusers (and everyone is entitled to have “evidence” against them tested and the presumption of innocence before guilt/ a fact).

    For every mother that has made allegations against the father and or excluded the child from the father and his family who had residency of the children reversed from her to the father,there are a thousand that have not had residency reversed to the father, the fact is they are more likely to lose their children to social services or to their own mother in a private law case brought by the mother’s mother (and sometimes backed by social services or even instigated by social services with even children being removed from the mother to the grandmother with no court orders in some cases).

    In private law cases the anti family courts camp splits into genders partly with the extremes of both genders becoming visible , which does not help the situation .Even women will never be totally united against the family courts,one reason being the percentage of mothers who have their children taken away from them by their own mothers in private law cases. Grandmothers are split into two groups in these cases,ones with legitimate concerns and ones who want to dominate and control and have created enmeshed unhealthy structures within their families or attempted too,I do not recall booker writing an article about the latter.

    A child being excluded from a parent and their extended family is wrong, whether it be by the state in the guise of social services or a mother or a father or grandmother. Historically mothers have been the majority of those excluding children from their fathers,which to me is the same as the actions taken by social workers and to be against one and not the other is hypocrisy.

    • As I said earlier judges are reluctant to compromise.They are also too ready to upset present arrangements for children and substitute new ones ie “care” in public law cases, and change of residence from one parent to the other in private law cases often incredibly specifying NO CONTACT of any kind for the losing parent ! In most cases the children could be left where they are but with conditions attached re contact ,and supervision etc;Booker and others who criticise family courts want justice and fairness and that will only begin to happen when family courts are subject to the same rules as criminal courts.Innocent until proved guilty,no punishmen without crime,no forced adoptions,no blanket restrictions especially on indirect contact,no gagging orders , no restriction on public entry to family courts,more weight given to children’s wishes expressed in court (not reported by guardians!) If only…………….

      • I would agree with you where public law cases are concerned but with regard to private law cases, although some issues are applicable others are not and they are in a league of their own Fathers on the other hand are going to court in the first instance in the majority of cases because they have ALREADY been excluded from their child’s life by the mother, in these cases it is the mothers that play with fire and on rare occasions get burnt with reverse residency (but are actually more likely to find themselves starting in private law proceedings and ending in public law proceedings and losing their children to social services) . Many cases have multiple contact orders issued (even a 100 plus ) over years (10 plus ) all of which have been ignored by mothers, they leave fathers with no alternative but to go to court if they want a relationship with their children (which they have a right to, just like mothers do). In many of these private law cases that “go off the rails” it is actually the mothers actions or lack of that have derailed them,of course there are exceptions and they are usually when social services are called in to the private law proceedings and then the rails are bulldozed away.

        Booker would be better in my opinion sticking to public law cases to change the system, rather than joining cases where one party is emulating social workers outside of the court.

  11. Para 61 of the judgment..

    The mother is plainly pre-occupied with the father’s alleged failure properly to support the children. In a position statement made for the December 2012 hearing, when she was acting in person, she said this at para.5:

    “His present attempt [this is for contact] for which he has dragged me to court is not only mala fide, it is simply to avoid paying the pittance that he contributes in the name of maintenance as illustrated in the letter attached, sent to me by Child Support Agency, dated 27th November 2012, to alter the court maintenance order. I would also like to refer to the fact that the father has taken his share of the property equity in exchange of letting the children be taken to Z forever.”

    So the mother paid the father his fair share of the house and I presume after selling the house to go to Z and after paying off the mortgage . If true and its written in a position statement that the mother her self produced and filed in the case,the father may aswell have taken the money because if he had not agreed she could have probably have gone anyhow and he was not at the time getting regular contact anyhow. It also raises questions about his remortgaging of the house and or motives if he did and about “child” support…….

  12. I repeat “At the orders of mrs justice Harris 4 uniformed police drag two boys aged 11 and 15 out of bed at 7.45 am on xmas morning and force them to go 50 miles to be with a father who left them 11 years ago…..”
    That behaviour can never be justified……….

  13. That reminds me of another issue I had with Booker’s article about this case, the first sentence under the title is,

    “It’s extraordinary that two boys have been put into the care of a father who left 11 years ago by a High Court judge, Mrs Justice Laura Harris”

    and in his first paragraph in the article he says,

    “into the care of a father who walked out on them 11 years ago, two weeks after the younger boy was born.”

    The father ended the relationship with the mother 11 years ago, everybody has a right to end a relationship,whether they are male or female and they have the right to have no abuse directed at them afterwards for ending a relationship from the other partner or anybody else. Nobody owns anyone.

    The father left the children in the care of their mother,he wanted contact with them.

    There is never a good time to end a relationship, whether or not there are children involved, if there are children involved it is better that a relationship ends and ends earlier rather than later,if that’s what one partner wants, rather than it take a unhealthy spiral downwards (to allow a relationship to take that path is irresponsible).

    Men leave children with their mothers, when they end a relationship because of gender societal expectations and the conceptions of the moral unwritten rules of social conventions.

    What would be said about him,if he had taken the children with him ?

    What is said about women who leave their children with the father when they end a relationship?

    Both of the above situations transgress, what society in general sees as morally acceptable or and conventional and causes problems for both genders if they take these routes, but males still get degraded for taking the opposite route as with the father in the x box case, reminds me of damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

  14. BEN:-This male was degraded not for leaving but for not paying proper maintenance and for waiting 11 years to suddenly take measures to force them to leave their mother against their will on XMAS day. 4 uniformed police on XMAS morning at 7.45am stronarmed two young boys to take them 50 miles away to their grandparents not their father at all !
    Can you really applaud such conduct?

    • Is the Mother now paying “child” support ?

      I think the judge and the guardian were foolish to go for reversal of residency, because of the children’s ages and the fact that the father has had no relationship with them really because they have been excluded from his life. Many parents think it will be easy to have their children come and live with them, because they are theirs biologically and they love them, but in many many cases it is actually very hard and can be a setup to failure. Ask anyone that has had there children back after a year or so in state care,many were not prepared for it and the relationship had been very damaged by the exclusion on both sides. Relationships between parents and children, need to develop naturally over time and any interruption or exclusion over a prolonged period of time from each other can be very damaging on both sides.

      This father like many others are put in hopeless situations, all they want is contact and to be part of their children’s lives, what was this father meant to do, give up? There was no point him putting in more applications for contact, it had not worked before so why would it now. The time for compromise had gone and the mother had from July 2012 to the hearing in november 2013 to change things, not exactly suddenly for the mother to think about it, she had had years before hand and then had over a year to change issues before the hearing. Applications for reverse of residence are usually only considered after continued resistance to contact .

      This father has not had good advice, which could have stopped this and the mother has put her own emotional needs and sense of justice/injustice before her children. The court has failed the parents and the children.

      Plus the father had concerns about the welfare of the children, should he have ignored them ? would you have if they had been your children ? that will have to be on his conscience not mine or yours. I take it now that the mother has reported concerns to the police, the sad thing is they all are at risk of losing the children to social services, although I could not see SS bothering with a 15 year old but the father has younger children too which could know become victims to SS.

      The generalised perceptions in society of women is that they are “nuts” and with men its they are “violent”,so its very easy to say a women is nuts and have it believed just like it is to say a man is violent, the truth is a lot more complex than that, some women have mental health issues but the majority do not but some are violent and the same goes vice versa for men.

      There is very little conduct in the family courts that is applaudable. I do not think that there is ever really a good time to enforce a court order, what ever the order is for,the worst is removing a baby at birth, it does not really matter what day it is that that happens on.

      In this case the mother must at least take some of the responsibility for the outcome and have it on her conscience, the path she chose outside the court partly lead to the outcome.

      In years to come it would be interesting to be a fly on the wall, when her 2 sons tell her that their x partners will not allow them to see their children and she is not allowed to see her grandchildren, the boys will then see things in a very different light. Its something many of these mothers do not think about in life when they have sons.

      • Ben, When you argue along those lines you argue PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome) and you are demonizing this mother without knowing all the facts and the detailed history of this family. You yourself say repeatetly how courts ignore evidence to achieve outcomes they favor. This is not a correct approach to the law and to justice by any stretch of the imagination.

        No court in this universe and no man can come between a committed mother and her children. If there is ever a separation a mother knows how to overcome that and they can sit things out for ever if need be.

        I am aware that men, while being in awe of such power, are also scared of it, and there are indeed families where a mother establishes negative and destructive patterns of self-hatred and deceit in their off-spring. But men are also perfectly capable of such behavior. I would not dare making such negative predictions on families when the father is missing. As pointed out before, you are playing right into the hands of SS UK with such arguments.

        We all need to strive to be just in our arguments, and we achieve this with balanced perspectives and open minds. Nothing is worse but coming to judgements based solely on opinion. Perhaps we are also collectivly responsible for horrible judgements and horrible judges because we ourselves are tempted to interpret people and families in such ways. Whatever you want to think – don’t blame the mothers.

      • Rote mutter, RA,

        Private law cases (where ss are not ordered in) are very different to public law cases, the courts/judges do not have a favoured outcome,the starting point could actually be described as a patronising paternal one towards the mothers.

        The placement (with the father) as failed like many do,even when put back with their mother after being in State “care” , Which is why I said earlier that I thought the judge and guardian were foolish in their choice given that the father had had no real relationship with the children.

        Some placement breakdowns end in the worse way possible but are never described as breakdowns, for those that have never been in the situation it can be very hard to understand and the parent can be judged harshly.

        Your term PAS, which I get the impression that you do not believe exists (correct me if I am wrong or is it that you think it is not applicable to this case but an argument has been built so that the judge applied it to this case). Whether or not PAS exists does not concern me and is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the relationship between the parent to child/child to parent or bond or attachment bond, this can be positive for the child,where the parent is positive towards the child (a positive bond) and it can be negative for the child where the parent is negative towards the child (a negative bond) but a bond still exists.A bond can even exist where the parent has been extremely abusive towards the child (which is obviously no good for the child to be attached to an abuser). Where the bond is damaged or non existent is where the problems can start (and is what concerns me where a parent excludes a child from another parents life), and this happens when the child and parent are away from eachother for prolonged periods of time or and the child transfers their bond to another prime carer (like a foster carer).

        A bond between a parent and child forms naturally over time while they are together and while the child is a baby, as long as the parent as the ability to bond with the child (not everyone does but most do). Both mothers and fathers bond with their children and have the ability to sit down and sort things out between them and the child when they have upset each other or been apart, where the bond is not damaged or still exists, no magical mystic powers required or supposed “awe power” necessary or required. And certainly not anything any man or father needs to be scared of.

        If you know what to look for you can see the signs of a bond between parent and child, some signs are more obvious than others especially when the child is young.

        Where there is no longer a bond or a damaged bond or where no bond ever occurred between a parent and child, what parents can feel what they believe to be a bond can be more like a craving or yearning. Of course when a parent and child are reunited the bond can be repaired, renewed, rebuilt, built for the parent and child in the right circumstances and a child can transfer their bond from say a foster carer back to the mother and or father.

        Where the bond is not transferred back from a foster carer to the parent, the child can suffer attachment issues no awe power is going to help,only hard work and understanding and time and help and support.

        where a mother or father are reunited with their child and there is no bond from the parent to the child and the bond is not rebuilt on the parents side it can be very dangerous or and very disturbing incidents can happen.

        Parents and children are failed by a lack of support and understanding and even myths. The Emma Wilson case was not long ago, she has been portrayed as a horrid child murderer(yes she killed her child), but have things been ignored, did social services and other professionals ignore possible outcomes and fail to offer the right support (although there are a few very questionable things about her case). Emma Wilson put her new born into foster care at birth and then had the child returned to her after 7 months, the relationship/bond between her and the child had been damaged, the child did not feel like hers (which can happen), a few months later the child died from injuries she caused. If the right support had been in place from an early attachment team and psychologist the outcome may have been very different like in other cases,her case is just one of many.

        You should talk to the children that have been in care, they can tell you a lot. And the parents who have had children returned from the state “care” (but they would really have to trust you to let you tell you how it really was and how they felt).

        As for the mother in the x box case, I am not demonizing her, but commenting on what can be seen from the judgement. There is no good reason why the children have been excluded from the fathers life, if she had made allegations of abuse against the father which were not found as facts, then the judge would have mentioned them in the judgement to add more weight to the judgement against the mother. Like many who say they are not opposed to contact, they portray behaviour that says the opposite,which is usually passive aggressive behaviour towards the father,like him knocking the door to pick the children up for contact and her ignoring the door and having him arrested for harassment, being 2 hours late to contact,taking the children early from contact, moving out of the country, those are just a few the judge mentioned probably out of a very long list over years. I would consider all that and excluding the child from the fathers life as a form of domestic abuse/intimate partner ex partner abuse in a covert way.

        The fathers bond with the children was at the least damaged and maybe was non existent anymore (and he may have just had a yearning for them to be in his life) and the children’s bond with the father had more than likely been destroyed by the mother excluding the children from the fathers life. Children and parents fall out all the time and upset one another but they are still able to see one another and work things out because they have a bond,where there is no bond that’s a different issue.

  15. Court proceedings are always about Perception Management, and it is in this light of perceptions being managed that I find this judgement concerning, as it speaks of the judge having being made to perceive certain things in a certain way to be tempted to come to such a radical judgement.

    It is the radicality of the severance between mother and children that needs to concern us deeply as it speaks to me of the judge having bought into a social hype that is out there in society, but that was further enforced by the Father and his legal team, and their various manoeuvres against which the mother was struggling to argue in a manner that suited the situation. As I counsel women who are faced with vindictive exes in court proceedings I can say that most women fail in the face of clever thought of social and legal manoeuvre that are nothing else but perverted. The last thing a mother can handle well is court proceedings while raising children that demand her full and undivided attention. To be even dragged into such court proceedings constitutes in my opinion a form of child abuse as the children will ultimately always suffer, and we have to always remember this when we put blame on the mother for acting emotional, tense and resentful towards the father. This knowledge of mine about the suffering of women however does not exclude that I also know very well that women are also perfectly capable of acting emotionally perverted, vindictive and can play the fields absolutely ruthless, leaving behind nothing but devastation.

    However, in this judgement, I can see in the highly emotional tone, that the judge was played,. Yet, the last thing she can afford as a judge is to be played or be a player in the emotional trenches of humanity. Her one and only concern have to be the children’s welfare. It sets extremely high standards for a judge but such is the reality and the importance of this job. In my opinion she has failed her job because she failed the children.

    To make a gender argument in the context of Father Rights (read: Fathers for Justice) is perverted but typical for our times, where oppressors hide behind liberal sounding arguments that inverse justice into a travesty. Children are naturally closer to the mother as babies and during infancy simply because they are psychologically and physically very immature beings at birth and heavily depended on their mother’s physical care (I say one word only: breast feeding). A man can not replace a mother, how ever much it is argued that a mother can be replaced by artificial means, or that a man is just as good a mother as a woman. How Fathers for Justice again and again argues in the line of competing with mothers always gives me a clue to some deeper psychological thing going on in this often completely absurd debate and how utterly obsessed F4J is with vilifying mothers, how ever much they confess that all they desire is “equal parenting rights” for the “welfare” of children. Welfare is the least of their concerns, as F4J tends to foam with hatred against women and are the mouthpiece and bastion of emotionally perverted people of all kinds.

    Further it is interesting how F4J is arguing for traditional family values while being actually the active mouth pieces for the dismantling of the family by actively arguing for a “division” of the family (the children) and the hostile severance between mothers and children, in particular if a mother insists that children need one home and one central place in their lives and shall not be wheeled between warring parents in the name of “equal rights” under some ludicrous shared residence orders (see F4Js attack against Kate Winslet). All this has of course nothing to do with equal rights between men and women, because plainly, women never had the same rights as men and by taking rights away from women to “equalise” it can only create further injustice and more disadvantage for women. Just as there is no such thing as reversed racism, is there also no such thing as men being disadvantaged at court.

    Children have no rights at all in these perverted games between adults and state authorities and this has become yet again obvious in this case.

    Thank you again for sharing Suesspicious Minds!

    • Ashamed to be British

      I found that very unfair. You’re accusing the members of F4J of exactly what you’ve just done. All they want is to see their children, and they do recognise the right of the child to have contact with both parents, many many women are so spiteful and vindictive that when they meet a new partner, they simply kick the father out of the loop in order to move on with the new love in their life, we must remember, that a woman is the only one who can choose whether to and who they have a baby with, that is a commitment they make to this little human being, if later on things goes wrong in that relationship, they should think about the children they apparently love so much and do everything in their power to make sure they are settled, happy and parented by both of their parents, it’s their right!
      Having sat down over a drink or two with some of these dads, I can assure you they are not all spiteful and vindictive – they just want their children to be allowed to know both their parents, they break their hearts every day just wishing to hold their child. I would never have stripped my children away from their dad, he chose to walk, his loss.
      Many single parent fathers are excellent ones, I know one or two myself who have done a sterling job

  16. Get real you commentators ! What actually happened was that at 7.45am two boys aged 11 and 14 were waiting in bed for time to get up and open the xmas presents put under the tree by the mother they adored. Suddenly following the orders of horrible judge Mrs Harris 4 burly policemen dragged them screaming and shouting out of bed and after something of a struggle carted them off ,not to the father they despised and hated because he hit them so often, but to the paternal grandparents who lived 50 miles away !
    The “teacher” who criticised their schoolwork had never taught either of them and was not even present at the “parents evening” he described so graphically.
    The mother was criticised for resenting the father who remortgaged the house 11 years ago ,cleared off with the proceeds ,and paid hardly any maintenance since then (not denied when mentioned in court).She was also criticised for retreating to her bedroom (not her bed) when her sons aged 11 and 14 had friends round to play computer games and did not necessarily want “mummy” on hand watching them….
    As a postscript added to her judgement ,Mrs Harris blamed the mother for refusing to cart the boys off to the grandparents 50 miles away on Xmas eve .She did not explain how a slim petite lady like the mother could force a 14 year old 3 inches taller than her and much heavier plus his 11 year old brother to travel the 50 miles to the grandparents when in fact even 4 policemen had difficulty in performing the same task early on Xmas morning !
    I wish a belated happy New Year to one and all …..

    • Emotional perverts can not only be found within the family but also in courts, working as judges, lawyers and barristers, and social workers aso, because they too come from families and a society that formed them mentally and emotionally. That is what makes family justice so hard to bear sometimes because it reflects on society while being also it’s mirror.

      Family Justice has Laws and Regulations in place. And those judges and the legal profession have to guard like hawks, that is their job. But very often they don’t do their job and are inflicting further harm to already harmed people. Making justice harder to access with the cut of legal aid and raising a generation of lawyers who are not well trained and have no other incentive to do their job but financial rewards, makes it more likely that such harm will stand unchallenged and becomes entrenched as a norm in society and in families. Therein lies the grave danger for us all.

    • It disturbs me and saddens me to call a female judge a horrible judge for her level of negative emotional involvment and bias, but in this case it is obvious and it is not the only female judge who works with such a lack of objectivity and emotional distance. Many female judges are unfortunately infamous to make the most harsh judgements. After all, they are also only human, but this is of little consolation for the children and their mother who rely on judges making decent judgments. Only real justice can fix the harm that was done here.

  17. I called her a horrible judge not because of her perverse verdict but because if she had cared two hoots about the boys she would have waited until after Xmas to move them, not deliberately spoiled their Xmas festivities with 4 uniformed police at 7.45am Xmas morning! Talk about emotional abuse………
    Brutal and insensitive to say the least !

    • Ashamed to be British

      The father must also be included in this, if he cared two hoots about the children, he also would not have allowed this on xmas morning either. Idiot, does he think his kids are going to learn to love him in time? No they will just keep running away to mum until the court has no choice but to reverse the decision – they will never forgive him for this, he has lost them forever, and he will blame the mother

  18. dear Ian, I think it is reasonable to consider whether given the timing, the application to the High Court ought not to have been made on Christmas Eve, or whether the Court might have beeen better to enforce the order AFTER Christmas; but there was never much doubt that if someone doesn’t comply with a change of residence that action is going to be taken.

    And please note that HH J Harris was not involved in the action post 23rd December. The authorisation of the police involvement was done in the High Court by Cobb J

    The hearing concluded late on 23rd December 2013 which was far from ideal but unavoidable. I ordered that the mother take the boys to the paternal grandparents by 2pm on 24th December. She refused to comply with the court order. Late afternoon on 24th December the father made an urgent application to Cobb J by telephone for a collection order. He had a note of this judgment. The application had the support of the Guardian. The police failed in a timely way to assist the Tipstaff to enforce the order. The result was that the paternal grandparents spent the whole night of 24th December at the police station and the collection order was not enforced until early Christmas morning. This too was unfortunate and unavoidable. The mother brought this situation on the boys.

    • Suespiciousminds:- I can only repeat that a halfway humane judge would have made an order enforceable AFTER Christmas and I am sure that even judge Harris did not “forget” that Xmas was on December 25th………..
      Lastly it is a travesty to castigate the mother for refusing to comply with a court order when she never actually refused but obviously had no ability to drag two boys (one of them three inches taller than her and nearly double her weight) on a 50 mile journey to the grandparents (not the father who at least lived considerably nearer) on Christmas Eve.
      I am not taking sides with mothers against fathers or vice versa. I just think that judges are,as in this case far too ready to make radical changes in residence for children on pretty feeble pretexts.After years with a parent a change of residence to the other parent( or to fostercare in public law cases) should be a very last resort.If indeed this mother had faults the judge could have given the mother an ultimatum to eliminate these faults within a certain time rather than take the route of “one strike and you are out !”.

  19. The primary incentive for mothers for refusing contact with fathers is the abuse of either the children and/or herself. Thanks to F4J and their targeted campaign against single mothers and their support systems children are nowadays placed with fathers even when there is a track record of abuse perpertrated by these men. Women are even told by lawyers that either they have to agree to contact, shared residence and full residence swaps or loose the children into care and forced adoption. The myth of “fathers struggling for contact” is frankly just that – a myth.

    Long gone are the days when men were told to do therapy for their anger and violence issue. Nowadays the issues are inverted and the mothers are told that they have the issues, and any violence is brushed under the carpet, because the relationship with fathers is more important then fear of their violence and violence itself. Mothers are also nailed with psychiatric assessment that essentially state that mothers “imagine” and “exaggarate” the violence that they have experienced. Such psychiatric assessments are essential as evidence against women to justify for their children to be taken of them, and an entire generation of psychiatrist is nowadays in employment to deliver nothing else but such papers that can be called nothing but perverse.

    Father for Justice opened new business avenues for many of these court experts – most of them on the steroid of psychiatric ideologies of the worst kind such as the monstrous PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome) theory – which is always called in to assess mothers who claim there has been abuse in the family during custody proceedings.

    And Father for Justice also opened new business avenues for residential child care providers (children’s homes, foster carers etc) and adoption agencies who saw in the rise of Fathers for Justice a great opportunity for business expansion. The calculation for these businesses is simply the following: the more women and children are legally unprotected from abuse due to the ever increasing rights of abusive men, the more children will have to be taken into care, and/or adopted. Unsurprising as so many of the F4J founders were themselves of the business world and understood very well that nothing can change culture as fast as business incentive while providing also ideological opportunities for the government.

    So, thanks for nothing F4J. You may critizise SS on one hand, but with the other you have directly worked into their hands and have always politically served them.

    • I also want to add that in the same week as “X-Box Mum Story” was published in the Telegraph a small op-ed reflecting on this issue of mothers loosing custody to abusive men and/or child protective services was featured in The Guardian.

      “A massive movement of mothers fighting to keep their children has begun to win changes that can lead to ending the courts’ secrecy. But much remains to be done. Child protection must begin with support and resources for the child’s main carer – usually the mother. Instead, mothers are having their benefits capped and money is being poured into professional agencies which concentrate on targets and bonuses – a recipe for state child abuse.”

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/28/benefit-cap-state-child-abuse-legal-challenge-500-mothers

    • Ashamed to be British

      Again, unfair, they are parents to these children too, it takes two people to create a life, and those two people should bring them up. It’s a shame that quite often, the parents can’t agree on anything and it ends up in court, nevertheless, children deserve both parents, who as supposed adults should put their children first and agree to disagree

      You may remember the recent Hay Waine incident

      The mother took herself and her son off to the Phillipines, the father did nothing wrong, she just decided to bugger off, is that the action of a loving mother who thinks of her child? no! She thought of herself. The father is the most lovely, caring, kind and gentle man you could possibly wish to meet, his only crime is loving his child

      • My rant was about F4J and their continuous psychological reversal acrobatics, not about this father in particular, in this “X Box” case. As I have not seen any actual evidence in this case I can only judge by the judgement itself, which I find “technically appalling”.

        My rants about F4J and their likes is however based on evidence. Evidence are the cases I work on, the files I read, the judgements and “expert” assessments I study and compare and the voices of the women that keep us awake at night because they call us at 1am, can’t stop crying and are desperate for anything that explains to them how any of this makes any sense. Try and explain the senseless..

      • Ashamed to be British

        Seriously, I couldn’t explain it if I tried, I do not understand ANY parent willfully denying their child a relationship with the other parent, if you use your kids as weapons you are a crap parent, period!

        Anymore than I can explain the cases I work on, the files I read, the judgements and “expert” assessments I study and compare and the voices of the men that keep me awake at night because they call me at 1am, can’t stop crying and are desperate for anything that explains to them how any of this makes any sense

  20. In families there needs to be a balance,like with anything in life,families are like eco systems where a ecological equilibrium is required to avert disaster, where the natural equilibrium is disturbed in families things can become disturbing.

    We live in a society that sells us the myth of the super mother and father individually, but look into our evolutionary history and they never existed.

    we are sold that more is better but it is not necessarily so.

    When the balance is disturbed in the extremes in single parent households and two parent households (usually where the parents do not get on with eachother), emotionally incestous relationships can form between a parent and a child (this does not involve sexual physical contact), the parent meets there own emotional needs through their child rather than through a adult partner, the child becomes the surrogate emotional partner and the parent’s emotional support. The child becomes their confidant, their shoulder to cry on, their friend etc and the child’s own emotional needs are neglected.

    The perpetrators of this form of emotional abuse usually see things in black and white child=good partner=bad, females=good males=bad and they have a difficulty in admitting reality.

    The effects can be devastating where the child is of the opposite sex (mother-son, father-daughter), causing the child in adulthood to have difficulties in their own relationships.

    These children can end up fearing their parent rejecting them emotionally and can fear raising their own needs within the home and asking for help. They can end up treading on egg shells to avoid the parents emotional or hostile outbursts.

    Society knows of the 40 year old bloke (“mummy’s boy”) still living with his mother, more mothering is not necessarily good, there needs to be a balance and children need to gain their independence and start to gain it as infants. In the majority of cases its less obvious to spot.

    I not saying this is applicable to this x box case, but where mothers exclude fathers from the childrens lives they are ignoring the emotional needs and identity of their children and putting their own emotional needs first and sense of justice or injustice. the same goes for fathers who exclude the mother from their children’s lives..

    • Ben it’s so simple !Like I said before the word (unknown to family court judges) is “compromise”.Of course the mother cannot force an 11 year old and a 14 year old to see their father so it is ridiculous to blame her in any way.;but the judge could and should be blamed ! All she had to say to the two boys was “either you agree to see your father regularly as I prescribe or if you refuse you will live with him permanently and only see your mother at pre arranged contact times — your choice !”
      They would have chosen regular contact and everybody would have been happy !

      • The courts never learn lessons, same as social services with their serious case reviews,the same mistakes are made again and again.

        this case will be repeated time after time. more children will be failed along with their parents.

        the whole system needs to go.

  21. UK TIME 10;30PM Sunday 23rd Feb ; The father in this case arrived at mother’s house half an hour ago and dumped both boys there with sutcases ,then sped off without a word !! “There’s none so queer as folk …..”

  22. Some wonderful and bizarre just happened. The father just dropped the kids with all their belongings outside my door without saying a word. I will have to find out what needs to be done legally.
    But I had to share this with you and Ian, two most wonderful people I had the pleasure of knowing.
    Regards, S

    • Well, there is nothing as annoying as teenagers (and a mother’s unbending love) they say.

      The court may get into gear now against her to uphold their point of her being an “unfit” X-Box mother. They hate being embarrassed and demonstrated wrong. So, watch out for s47 aso.

    • Ashamed to be British

      Wow. I feel really sorry for this mother, the judge is not going to what to admit they were wrong, it kinda scares me what will come next just to save face.
      She and the boys have every right to sue the courts for trauma caused

      I wish them well and hope everyone just leaves them alone to get on with their lives now

      • Yes the mother sent the above news to Christopher Booker who passed it on to me so I could spread the (up to now) good news !

    • Ashamed to be British

      Pessemistic maybe, but I feel a care order coming on, rather than say ‘sorry, we got it wrong’

      • Horrible Mrs Harris will probably do exactly what you say “ashamed to be British”
        She is unlikely to admit she got it all wrong or that she needlessly ruined a happy and united family’s Xmas day !

      • Well, if horrible Harris does that, she will get some stiff resistance.

    • Ashamed to be British

      Ian,
      Please keep us updated, this whole case is very sad, the father has given up on his boys already (no wonder they insisted on living with mum) but somehow I don’t see this to be the end of the matter
      What a shameful system

  23. From a perspective of public interest, it would be interesting to see how a court would argue for a care order. First it would have to establish further how the child welfare is endangered. I believe they already did some of that (in a limited scope though) when they ordered the residence swap and limiting the mother’s contact. It depends on the evidence relating to the judgement, which is however all here-say according to Ian (nothing new about this. Shame on courts for doing that, but it is common).

    As far as I can see from the judgement the judge said that the strained relations between mother and father constitute in themselves a form of child abuse (by the mother) and this forms the basis of the order for residence swap and limited access of the mother (when she did not follow orders to hand over children on Xmas?). If the court wants to persue the case and refuse a residence order in favor of mum, it will most likely ask for a psychiatric assessment under a s47 with the local council. But due to public scrutiny the court may just drop that case altogether, even though though it would be important for the public to see how child removal from a mother works in cruel detail, legal-technically speaking.

  24. Dear all – I think that in the light of the information Ian has shared and the possibility of further court hearings in this case, it is appropriate to end the comments now (talking in detail about a case that has concluded is rather different to one that might be resuming).

    I’m sure that if anyone wants to keep up to to date with the story, Ian will be updating it at his Forced Adoption website (the rules in Monaco are a bit different to the rules here)

    If there is a judgment published in the future, we will come back to discussing it.

    • Ashamed to be British

      I concur
      This blog is public and wisely followed, anything said from herein on may scupper any decisions made by the mother and/or the courts who might find themselves in the predicament of putting this right or putting it to bed

      This is one I personally will follow closely

      Please be sure to revisit suespiciousminds … this could be a massive breakthrough for parents of ‘wrongly removed’ parents

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