Freedom Law

Siblings reunited to live with their father

Siblings reunited – although siblings living separately to each other at time of final hearing, their best interests lay in living together with their father who was better able to regulate his own and the childrens’ emotions compared to the mother

Exton & Fahey 

 

  1. The Family Consultant was strongly supportive of the children being reunited in their father’s care. She described the two boys as having been an absolute pleasure to meet and that it had been a mutually enjoyable interview. She explained that she had not seen the different side of either child described by the parents.
  2. The Family Consultant was very firm to say that the boys should be together, that they were physically affectionate with each other and showed a really good connection on each occasion she saw them. Significantly she said that in her view each child felt a burden of guilt about their separation and that there could be long lasting repercussions if they were separated.
  3. The Family Consultant stressed the significance of the sibling relationship, “They won’t have shared experience; they will grow apart. If one parent can meet their needs, then they should be together”.
  4. The mother cross-examined Ms R. The Family Consultant stood firm about the level of time with the mother she considered appropriate in the event that the younger child went to live with his father. She challenged the mother on her proposition that it would not be fair for the child if he spent as little as one weekend per term with her.
  5. The Family Consultant explained that none of what had happened to the children had been fair for them but they had a great need to lead a settled and predictable life. She also explained to the mother that in her professional opinion the mother’s behaviour provoked the older child to behave in a certain way; that his father’s behaviour did not provoke the same response.
  6. The Family Consultant also explained that she had heard of evidence given in the trial that concerned the mother, that the mother struggled physically with the older child. In the view of the Family Consultant there needs to be someone present during all periods of time for the time to be a benefit.
  7. Having read the report of the speech therapist for the younger child the Family Consultant agreed with the mother that the child was doing very well. She went on to say that if he was doing well then he would be likely to continue to do well in the care of his father.
  8. The Family Consultant also identified that the mother treated the two children very differently and that the boys were aware of the differential treatment and that posed difficulties for their relationship. That evidence resonated with the evidence of the mother and the maternal grandfather that the younger child was a good child with no behavioural problems and that the older child was a naughty and difficult child.
  9. Finally, the Family Consultant explained to the mother that it was her inability to regulate her own emotions that was the issue, “You are responsible for your behaviour and controlling your emotions. If you can’t control yourself and help them regulate their emotions then it’s a problem”. At that time the mother appeared to understand that the Family Consultant was not directing her recommendations to fairness between adults but the fundamental needs of the children and which of the parents could meet those needs.

Whether it would be preferable to make the order that would be least likely to lead to the institution of future proceedings in relation to the child

  1. For the past 15 months the children have been separated from each other. The orders providing for the children to spend time with each other and the parent with whom they were not living have required the children to do extensive travel, more importantly they have not been complied with by the mother in more than one respect. The mother failed to return the older child after the 2015/2016 school holiday period. The mother did not comply with the orders for her time with the older child to be supervised by her father. The mother has not ensured that the father spends time with the younger child.
  2. The change for the children which will most stabilise their situation is for them to be re-united with each other. The evidence strongly supports a finding that the father at this stage of their lives is better equipped to meet their needs and on that basis an order will be made that the younger child B moves to live in the father’s household.
  3. Although the younger child has made good progress especially with his speech and has enjoyed the greater calm of the mother’s household, he has asked his father about living with him and his brother. To maintain the status quo, of separation of the children, would inevitably lead to further applications, most particularly if the mother chose to move to a new location with her partner.