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England and Wales High Court (Family Division) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales High Court (Family Division) Decisions >> XM v XF  EWHC 1279 (Fam) (13 May 2021)
Cite as:  EWHC 1279 (Fam)
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Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
- and –
Ms Katherine Kelsey (instructed by Birketts Solicitors) for the respondent father
Hearing dates: 29 and 30 March 2021
Crown Copyright ©
Mrs Justice Roberts :
(i) in relation to the Children Act 1989 from sections 1(1)(a), 2(1)(b)(i) and 2A of the Family Law Act 1986, as interpreted by section 42(2) and the interpretation of those provisions by Moylan LJ in Lachaux v Lachaux  EWCA Civ 738 at paras 97-105, 185 and 187;
(ii) in relation to the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 on the basis of the parties' domicile; and
(iii) in relation to the Family Law Act 1996 from section 42(2)(b) and section 33(1).
"AND UPON the court recording that the Applicant mother has made it plain through her Counsel that she values the father's relationship with the children, and that nothing in this order is designed to remove him from the family home, or to prevent him from having care of the children."
"I found [the father] to be very committed to making the most of our work together. He showed up to our sessions on time, prepared and stayed engaged with the material of each session. I experienced [him] as a loving and caring father who does his best for his children in each given situation. We had many conversations about the children's emotional needs – [he] was able to identify what children needed in the case studies we looked at, and when reflecting on his time with his children. He was also able to reflect on how he would respond to challenging situations now, using what he learned – recognising his children's needs, the importance of looking after his emotional state and repair in relationships."
"At the beginning of my involvement, I observed a content little girl, who despite a degree of instability in her young life, was happy, sociable, and energetic in presentation. She was comfortable in both parents' care and has moved easily between the two parents. She has always been described as clingy on return to Mum after the weekend family time with Father."
"[S] is described as increasingly unable to cope with separation from Mother and becomes distressed in anticipation of separation. On return to Mother, she appears to have an elevated level of anxiety, she is unable to accept as she was previously that Mother may e in another room, and that she could move independently using Mother as her "secure base" whilst in her care. She has been seeking comfort by being carried on Mother's hip, becoming distressed if not in her sight, and frequent checking out that Mother is available to her. She has been having disrupted night's sleep, waking regularly and getting p to look for Mother, to the extent that Mother has to remain close. [S] was observed previously to be independent, and curious, but now unwilling to be and distressed at separation. [L] has spoken to Mother about disruption to [S's] pattern of sleep when in Father's care, and how [S] gets out of bed at night, looks for Mother and cries for her. Father advises that there is no disruption to [S's] sleep and that he experiences no emotional distress when in his care. [L] describes a degree of understandable responsibility for her younger sister and her protection and well-being."
"[L] is a delightful little girl who has been exposed to far too much information arising from the parents' difficulties. As reported in my previous assessment, she has been exposed to domestic abuse in the parental relationship, Mother makes allegations, which Father denies, and Findings are not actively sought in relation to the same. Notwithstanding this I am of the view that she is acutely aware of the tension in adult relationships and continues to carry [a] significant emotional burden in relation to then parents and her relationship with each of them. She has managed to negotiate and accommodate the changes to her living circumstances over the last year. She is in my view increasingly contained regarding the many changes of the last 15 months. This containment is beneficial in that she is able to regulate her emotions, but can create difficulties for children, and can be the trigger for further emotional distress or turmoil, and expression of trauma in a different manner.
Over recent weeks [L's] presentation has become increasingly concerning, she has had some emotional outbursts whilst in her Mum's care, but more concerning she has begun self-soothing herself to sleep, placing pillows, soft toys between her legs and rocking on the same, as a means of self-soothing herself to sleep. Mother describes a level of distress in [L] when going off to sleep, she uses the above technique to soothe herself."
"I accept 100% that [L] has been harmed by this. [S] is very young and has probably not gauged what is going on. But she is getting older. Of course being passed from house to house will have an effect on her."
"I accept the need for stability in their lives. In the last year there have been seven changes to their routine. There has not been any stability and this has not worked for the girls or us as parents."
My conclusions and the 'road map' which I intend to put in place at the conclusion of these proceedings
"[L] has been able to accommodate many of the changes from the last year, t the extent that she contains her emotions more. I am of the view that the behaviours which have recently emerged re another expression of trauma and distress from the harm she has been exposed to. I am hopeful that they will subside over time, and with nurturing."
Weeks 1, 2, 4, 6 and 8: on Mondays and Thursdays after school (2pm to 6.30pm);
Weeks 3, 5 and 7: overnight stays on Thursday and Friday returning to mother at 5pm on Saturday evening.
Weeks 1 and 3: Mondays and Thursdays after school (2pm to 6.30pm);
Weeks 2 and 4: overnight stays on Thursday and Friday returning to mother at 5pm on Saturday evening.
Stage 3: the move to three overnight stays on alternate weekends
Weeks 1 and 3: after school on Mondays until 6.30pm and overnight on Thursdays (returning to the mother on Fridays at 11am);
Weeks 2 and 4: overnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the father delivering the children to school on the Sunday morning.