By Gianna Huesch
A family court judge in the UK has creatively delivered his judgment in a relocation case in the form of a letter addressed to the boy the subject of the proceedings. In the unusual judgment, published with the approval of the child, the judge explained his reasons for rejecting the boy’s father’s application to relocate with the boy from England to a Scandinavian country. In the first few preliminary paragraphs the judge noted that the boy had “received the decision with apparent equanimity” despite the judgment going against his wishes. Thereafter, the entire judgment speaks directly to the boy.
The boy had expressed the wish to move to Scandinavia with his father, however the judge determined that it was not in the child’s best interests to allow the move.
The judgment begins with,
“Dear Sam (a pseudonym),
It was a pleasure to meet you on Monday and I hope your camp this week went well. This case is about you and your future, so I am writing this letter as a way of giving my decision to you and to your parents….”
The judge goes on to explain his reasoning, which is quite critical of the boy’s father, saying the current court case “was mainly to meet his needs, and not yours. I have seen the self-centred way that he behaves, even in the courtroom, and how he makes sure everybody knows how little respect he has for anybody who disagrees with him”. The judge says, “I’m afraid…whether he knows it or not, your father has a manipulative side.”
He explains that he doesn’t feel the father has thought the relocation through adequately, which is a big factor in determining the outcome of relocation cases, just as it is in Australia:
“The parent wanting to move has at least to show that they have a realistic plan (but) your dad hasn’t made a single enquiry about houses, schools or jobs.”
Apart from not allowing the relocation, the judge also declines to increase the boy’s time with his father, saying this would be “disastrous”.
Given the amount of court proceedings that had taken place in relation to the boy, the judge further ordered that “no further applications concerning you can be brought before the court by anyone, including yourself, without the Designated Family Judge giving permission”.
He finishes the letter with, “Lastly, I wanted to tell you that your dad and I enjoyed finding out that we both love the film My Cousin Vinny, even if it might be for different reasons. He mentioned it as an example of a miscarriage of justice, while I remember it for the best courtroom scenes in any film, and the fact that justice was done in the end.”
The same judge was in the news last year for delivering a judgment in a format that was deliberately “as short as possible” to help the parent and children involved in that case to “follow it”, and notably included an emoji in his judgment.
What do you think–should more family court judgments involving children be delivered in this child-friendly format?
Read the judgment: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/HCJ/2017/48.html
Do you need assistance with a family law matter? Please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.
Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance.