An application by the father in this case that his 15 year old daughter should live with him rather than her mother and step-brother. The application was made on the basis that living with her father would afford her far greater opportunity, educational support and what the applicant father also asserted was missing in the mother’s household, namely suitable cultural influence to reflect her African heritage.
By the time this matter came to trial the child concerned had reached the age of 16 and had clearly stated her own wishes and feelings to live with the mother not only to the CAFCASS officer but also the judge. The Court was satisfied that she was conveying her very own wishes and feelings based on understandable and appropriate reasoning.
The Court criticised the father for having let his relationship with his daughter lapse. The Court also criticised the father for being so very dismissive of the wishes and feelings expressed by the daughter.
In this case the Court declined to make any Order, leaving any kind of contact between the father and daughter up to the daughter and leaving the daughter living with her mother and step siblings.
Indeed, in conclusion the Circuit Judge stated “It would be positively harmful to this young person for me to make the Order sought and I unhesitatingly dismiss Mr A’s application and will make no further Order”.
It is a careful balance that the Court has to strike, in considering a child’s wishes and feelings if they contrast with an argument as to what may be in their best interests. In this case, the Court did not find any conflict between the two.
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