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Father's custody rights against grandmother to be heard in Supreme Court

Date:6 AUG 2009

A test case to decide the strength of a father's rights over other members of a child's extended family to bring up his children is to go to the highest court in the land, the new Supreme Court which opens for business in October.

The tragic legal tug-of-love focuses on a three-and-a-half year old boy whose parents separated before he was even born and who has until now been brought up by his maternal grandmother.

However, in March this year the boy's father launched a fight for an order that his son should be uprooted to come to live with him.

When the case went before magistrates they held that the best thing for him was to continue living with his grandmother.

In April, however, a High Court judge reversed that decision and ruled that he should be taken away from her and should go to live with his father.

That decision was backed in June by the Court of Appeal headed by one of the country's most senior family judges, Lord Justice Nicholas Wall.

Now though three law lords have given the grandmother permission to challenge that ruling and to continue her fight for the right to bring up her grandson.

In the Court of Appeal Lord Justice Wall said, in holding that the best place for the little boy was with his father that when faced with cases of this kind courts should bear in mind that ordinarily the rearing of a child by his biological parents could be expected to be in the child's best interest.

Papers just released by the law lords announcing their decision to hear an appeal against that decision say that lawyers for the grandmother argue that there are contradictions in the approach adopted in a previous case regarded as a legal authority on the situation.

The papers say : "In particular the petitioner (the grandmother) questions whether there is a presumption that residence with the biological parent is ordinarily in the child's best interest."

No date has been fixed for hearing of the case but it is likely it will be heard before the end of the year.