Andrew Robinson, Head of Family Law at Fishers Dewes Solicitors, considers issues that may arise during Christmastime around the care of children: It’s not hard to work out that the stress, anxiety & anger that’s felt by many separated...
Defiant Mum Narrowly Escapes Being Jailed for Christmas
A stubborn mum who failed to co-operate with social workers in her determination to block all contact between her 12-year-old daughter and her father has escaped being sent to prison for her defiance of a court order – because it is Christmas.
The mother claimed that her daughter became ‘visibly distressed’ at the prospect of seeing her father and that she ‘cannot force’ her to have contact with him. In a letter to the Family Court, the ‘confident’ youngster herself insisted that ‘nobody was listening to her’ and that she was against her dad even setting eyes on her.
However, in disobedience to a court order and under threat of imprisonment, the mother had repeatedly failed to turn up to hearings at which the father sought contact with his daughter. Social workers had also been prevented from talking to the girl and that had made it impossible to discern her ‘true wishes’, free from her mother’s influence.
The judge noted that she could have sent the mother to prison straight away for her contempt of the court order, but observed, “The problem with that option is the time of year.” Imposing a 14-day suspended jail term, the judge gave the mother a stern warning that, if she continues her defiance, the sentence will be activated after Christmas.