A cautionary note for a parent wishing to have contact with his children.
In a recent case at Dundee a father brought a Court action to have contact with his daughter who was born October 2007.
The father was not married to the mother, nor was the father present or named at registration of the birth of the child as the child's father. The father therefore did not have parental rights and responsibilities.
The Sheriff noted that a court contemplating making any order must regard the welfare of the child as its paramount consideration. Any order must be both necessary and conducive to the child’s welfare.
One of the considerations judges have to bear in mind is that it is generally beneficial for a child to maintain personal relations and regular contact with an absent parent.
The mother submitted that such a consideration did not stand up to examination in this case. She submitted that the child had a stable life with her; she was well cared for and was in a positive, steady routine. There was nothing to indicate that the child missed her father. There had been no contact for a year.
The mother also submitted that there were real concerns about the father’s practical ability to care for the child. The court was told that the child was clingy; separating her from her mother at this stage would be distressing for her.
Having heard evidence and submissions from both parties, the Sheriff agreed with the mother and accordingly did not consider that making an order for contact would be in the child’s best interests.
This case serves as a reminder of the basic yet vitally important principles which have to be weighed up in such cases. Although it is generally regarded as beneficial for a child to have contact with an absent parent it is still up to that parent to persuade a court that contact is in the best interests of the child.
We are closed from 24th December at 1pm re-opening on Wednesday 5th January at 9am.
Following on from our last update, we are getting back to normal as the week comes to an end.
There are continuing transport difficulties for clients and staff but the signs are that we are all getting to grips with the weather. Hopefully the weather will improve (or at least not get worse!!) over the weekend.
As I type this on Friday morning the hope is that Falkirk will be functioning normally come Monday morning at 9am.
Thankfully we have been able to staff the office each day this week, even if only for relatively short periods.
Once again we thank you for patience and apologise for any inconvenience caused.