It’s Not Fair for Fathers…or The Children…
A common scenario, a couple have children and subsequently separate. However, a recent case which has been subjected to Justice Bellamy in the High Court is slightly more perturbing on its facts.
The identity of the parties remains anonymous, however, the mother and father who had four children together subsequently separated and 8 years ago, the mother removed the children from the UK and relocated to the other side of the world in Australia. This left the father with minimal access to his children and only during the Australian summer holidays.
The father became so concerned as to the children’s welfare that during a recent summer holiday when the children were staying with their father in the UK, he issued an application to the Court seeking the permanent residency of the children in the UK.
A bitter custody battle ensued and the Judge presiding on the matter interviewed each of the four children in order to gain a view of their own wishes and feelings, something which the Court regards highly in most children cases when children reach a certain age and are capable of expressing their own views. All of the children confirmed to the Judge that they did not wish to return to Australia and wanted to remain in the UK with their father.
Prior to the mother and father separating, the children were financially supported by their financial consultant father, who earned around £300,000 per year. They were accustomed to luxurious holidays and were afforded the opportunity to attend private education. However whilst residing in Australia with their mother, who worked part-time in a supermarket they were evicted from their home, a far cry from their stable and affluent lifestyle in the UK.
Despite the vast disparity in financial circumstances, and despite the collective considerations of the wishes and feelings of all of the children that they preferred to reside in the UK with their father, the Judge ruled the gut wrenching decision that the children were best placed with their mother in Australia.
This case goes to show that fathers’ rights are still not adequately protected by the Courts. The odds are already stacked against fathers – mothers automatically receive parental responsibility yet fathers, unless they are married to the mother or named on the child’s birth certificate do not hold parental responsibility rights– therefore, decisions such as where the children will reside, or what school they will attend are not decisions fathers can make. This is incredibly unfair and frustrating.
Despite the Judge hearing from the children directly that they desperately wanted to stay with their father in the UK rather than reside with their mother in financial hardship in Australia, the children returned to Australia to their financially desperate mother rather than remain in the UK with their wealthy father. The Judge in this case concluded that the children’s views had been “coloured” by their father’s very luxurious and comfortable lifestyle and suggested that the father had exploited his financial advantage to win over the children.
It is extremely important for children to maintain a relationship with their father and the fact that in this example, it appears the children’s wishes were not really considered, is extremely sad. If you are a father who is up against it, get in touch with one of our family solicitors today on 0208 252 7373 to put the correct strategy in place to ensure that you maintain the crucial relationship with your children. Never, ever give up.
Pinder Reaux & Associates