Helping a Father to re-establish contact despite a hostile Mother

Marie represents a Father who separated from his wife when their child was very young. Contact progressed for nearly a year, when the Mother refused contact and alleged that domestic abuse had occurred during the relationship. She also moved home and could not be located for almost a year.

At the point Marie took over the case the proceedings had been on-going for 18 months and her client had not seen the child for nearly three years.

At a contested interim contact hearing, contact was ordered to commence. The Father, having accepted that there had been some domestic abuse, had successfully and voluntarily completed a six-month DVPP programme, so contact was re-introduced in a supervised setting over a four-month period and then the court was to review it.

However, after that hearing the Mother did not comply with the order, and enforcement proceedings were commenced. The Judge made a further order for contact and attached a penal notice to it. She also ordered the requisite reports and financial information, so that she could potentially make an order on the enforcement application that the Mother do unpaid work and make a financial compensation order to the Father.

Contact then proceeded as per the order and will be built up and reviewed (with a report from the ISW) at a DRA. However there were further difficulties which the Mother not co-operating, and evidence from the supervised contact notes that she was making comments to the child which would amount to parental alienation. The matter was returned to court and the Judge made an order prohibiting the Mother from saying such things to the child, and the ISW report was extended to a s.7 report to encompass the issues of implacable hostility and parental alienation