'Battling' parents allowed six annual visits each to see daughter04/07/2012 - 19:39:06
A 13-year-old girl will be allowed to see each of her “battling” parents no more than six times a year, a family court judge ruled in the UK today.
The father and mother separated 10 years ago and the child was in foster care, the High Court heard.
Judge Anthony Cleary said both parents were “intelligent” and “deeply loved” their daughter.
But he said that since separating they had been in a “constant battle against one another” about the role they should play in their daughter’s life – and the youngster was “damaged”.
The judge said neither mother nor father was “capable” of providing the kind of “exceptional” parenting the teenager needed – and he said the youngster had been “exposed to the risk of significant harm”.
He concluded that it was in the girl’s best interests that contact should be limited to “six times per year for each parent”.
Judge Cleary made a care order following a request from a local authority overseeing the teenager’s care.
He said the local authority began care proceedings in 2011 and the girl had been living away from her parents for 18 months.
Evidence was heard at a private hearing in the Family Division of the UK's High Court.
The judge today revealed some detail of the case in a written ruling – but he did not identify the girl, her parents or the local authority.
He said the family came from South Africa and moved to the UK more than a decade ago.
The judge said the mother had been married before. Her first marriage had broken down and her then husband had abducted her first child – a son.
He said the little boy had been removed from South Africa and taken to an “unknown location” – and the mother had been denied “any opportunity to have any relationship whatsoever with her son”.
“It is not possible to imagine the devastating effect this must have had on the mother,” said Judge Cleary.
“It appears to be the case that, perhaps understandably, she devoted a good deal of her physical resources, and the greater part of her emotional resources, in both grieving for and searching for her son.”
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