October 2010 – contact and children

- News,

Jane Staff reports on a recent case involving a contact application brought by close relatives of children.

In the case of Re H (children) heard on the 22nd September 2010 in the Court of Appeal, a Miss Jones (name changed to protect anonymity) sought contact with two children who were her half-brother and her half-sister. The children were in the care of their father. A report prepared by the court appointed childrens’ welfare officer recommended that there ought to be contact but the judge was persuaded to reject Miss Jones’ application and she appealed.
Mrs Staff explains:-
” The Court of Appeal concluded that the judge had given insufficient weight to the right of a child to a wider family life and contact with near relations and he had wrongly given too much weight to the anxieties of the father who objected to the contact. The test for the court was to balance the advantages to the children against the likelihood of harm and the likelihood of harm could be adequately controlled with a slow start contact regime consisting of contact by letter to start with.”