Longest Family Court Case in History Comes to an End

Published: 18th June 2014

A case involving a teenage girl who has been refusing to see her father has finally concluded following 13 years of court hearings, making it the longest case ever seen within the family division of the High Court - at a cost of £1 million to taxpayers.

The un-named 14 year old who is caught up in the case has refused contact with her father and according to judges she has been exposed to a disagreement between her parents that has been described as "toxic radiation" throughout the hearing.

With over 80 court appearances that have involved eight judges, social workers and psychiatrists, the teenager’s childhood has been classed as being scarred with effects that are irreversible.

In September of last year, the judges asked for another hearing into the case, claiming that the justice system had failed the teenager. Mr Justice Moylan who is a senior Family Division judge backed the girl’s needs and agreed that the girl should not be ordered to have direct contact with her father, bearing in mind that the case started when she was 18 months old and is now almost 15. This resulted in the case being asked for re-examining by the Court of Appeal.

The judge said it was the longest case of its kind that he had ever been involved in as a judge and as a barrister, but claimed that the girl had become a very bright individual despite the resentment between her parents. He states that the 14 year old also lived with her legally aided mother who suffered from mental health problems as well as a paranoid personality disorder. Her mother and the father, who is 63 years old and was representing himself, had never married despite beginning their relationship in 1991. The mother had a breakdown in 1996 which resulted in them separating, eventually getting back together in 1997 before their only daughter was born in 1999.

Again in 2001, they separated when their daughter was 18 months old and this is when the resentment and conflict started. The girl has spent most of her life living with her mother, but due to health problems, she spent eight months living with her father during 2007 as well as the maternal grandparents.

The contact between the girl and her father disappeared and the blame for this was put on the mother and an order for direct contact was applied for.

The judge made it clear that the girl had made the decision for herself and felt that it would not be in her best interests to force her to have contact as she simply would not turn up to the agreed times or dates. However, the judge did show a sign of sympathy for the father ruling that indirect contact was necessary. There is a claim that the mother had an influence in the girl’s decision to not see her father but the girls court appointed guardian explained that she had made the decision herself.

The teenager’s father said he was saddened by this decision but it did not surprise him as he expected it. He stated that he wanted to see his daughter in order to attempt to re-build their relationship and felt that indirect contact would not allow this, claiming that the system had failed him.

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