24 July 2020
The Judgment in MY v FY - commentary from Simon Beccle and Charlotte Skea-Strachan who represented the mother
The Payne Hicks Beach Family Department acted in the recent case of MY v FY.
The full judgment can be read here https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/HCJ/2020/48.html
This Judgment is the latest in a long running private law children case, dating back to late 2013, in front of Ms Justice Russell. Following the initial litigation, the parties’ three sons, two of whom are now over the age of 16, live with their mother, and from time to time, see their father, who lives abroad.
This case involved an incident that took place on 30 September 2019, between the father and all three sons, some of which was overheard on the telephone by the mother. After this the youngest son, who was then just 8 years old, refused to see his father, save in the presence of the Independent Social Worker who had previously assisted in facilitating contact. This supervised contact was offered to the father, through his solicitors, and he declined to take this contact up. The mother therefore applied to vary the existing Child Arrangements Order, asking for a formal return to supervised contact. The father cross-applied to enforce the Child Arrangements Order, and asked the court to make orders for overnight and holiday contact.
Having considered the matter, and watched over 30 minutes of CCTV images of the September incident (which both parties stated supported their case) Ms Justice Russell found in favour of the mother’s application, and that on balance the father had acted as she alleged, showing little insight into the consequences of his actions on the children.
She was further critical that the father had refused the offer of supervised contact, and praised the mother for swiftly taking and following the advice of the Independent Social Worker, and her solicitors.
While being a subjective decision, this case does make it clear that in seeking to restrict contact, there must be good reason for doing so, having, as the mother had done in this case, considered any incident from all angles and having examined one’s own motives, and taken professional advice if possible. The mother’s approach was praised as being child centred.
The father, by contrast, continued to show little insight into the impact of his actions on his children. The Judge concluded the case by ordering further supervised and supported contact, and agreed with the Independent Social Worker that the father should undertake a forensic psychiatric assessment, to include a risk assessment. It is to be hoped that this is the last litigation on this family’s future.
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