(Court of Appeal; Thorpe, Wall and Aiken LJJ; 11 March 2010)
The mother was obstructing contact with the children now aged 12 and 13. The case was at the extreme end of difficulty in the field of intractable contact. The judge in the principal registry attached a highly unusual condition to the contact order that the ‘children have to decide for each contact whether to take it up or not'.
Held that the judge had burdened the children with the responsibility that should not be asked to bear at that age. The condition was not supported by either the expert, or by the guardian, or by either parent. Subsequently the guardian's interviews with the children suggested very significant alienation. The case is to be listed before a Family Division judge, with judicial continuity. Given the resources available to the family, a child and adolescent psychiatrist ought to have been instructed.