In December 2009, The Custody Minefield launched a campaign challenging legal precedent in relocation related family law which had existed for 40 years. Sir Bob Geldof wrote the foreword to our report backing our arguments. He condemned outcomes in the family courts as being barbaric and damaging to children. 58 Members of Parliament signed Early Day Motion 373 calling for better protection of child welfare in relocation cases (where one parent seeks to emigrate with the children following separation).
In January 2010, The Custody Minefield assisted the father in writing his submission which went before Lord Justice Wall in the Royal Courts of Justice. LJ Wall accepted the arguments put forward as compelling but that a delay caused by a retrial would not be in that family’s best interests. Lord Justice Wall, now President of the Family Courts, said:
There has been considerable criticism of Payne v Payne in certain quarters, and there is a perfectly respectable argument for the proposition that it places too great an emphasis on the wishes and feelings of the relocating parent, and ignores or relegates the harm done of children by a permanent breach of the relationship which children have with the left behind parent.
On June 10th 2010 in a landmark case in the Royal Courts of Justice:
The Honourable Mr Justice Mostyn accepted that the weighing of evidence in relocation cases is questionable, leads to too great an emphasis being placed on the disappointment of the relocating parent should their application for the children to emigrate be refused, and affords insufficient weight to the comparative importance of a child’s Convention Right to Family Life.
He further stated that it was his opinion that the that there was an urgent need for a review in the Supreme Court of the ideology set out in the existing legal precedent.
That the current ideology of the courts in international family law leads to selfless and virtuous parents being punished, and the selfish being rewarded.
Michael Robinson, who heads the relocation campaign said ‘I welcome this progressive judgment which recognises the importance of shared parenting and the current flaws in common law. Judicial decisions must be supported by contemporary child welfare related research rather than being based on out-dated precedent and unsubstantiated ideology. Research confirms that children face emotional, psychological and developmental harm when separated from a parent’s loving care.”
In Sir Bob Geldof’s words, in his foreword to our report last year “The court is entirely informed by outdated social engineering models and contemporary attitudes rather than fact, precedent rather than common sense and modish unproven nostrums rather than present day realities. It is a disgraceful mess. A farrago of cod professionalism and faux concern largely predicated on nonsensical social guff, mumbo-jumbo and psycho-babble. Dangling at the other end of this are the lives of thousands of British children and their families.”
The January and June 2010 case law and our briefing report can be downloaded by selecting the following links:
Judgment given by Mr Justice Mostyn on 10th June 2010
Judgment given by Lord Justice Wall in January 2010
The Custody Minefield Parliamentary Briefing Report on Relocation, Foreword by Sir Bob Geldof
The Custody Minefield is the most visited site on the internet on matters related to international family law and has led the campaign in recent years to reform the law in this area. This month, we received our 100,000th unique visit to our website.
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