(Court of Appeal; Thorpe, Wall and Stanley Burnton LJJ; 14 May 2008)
There were various hearings between the parents as to the fathers contact with the two children. A guardian was appointed to represent the children. At a fact-finding hearing the father, who had a previous conviction for assault against the mother, was found to have assaulted her. The father persisted in denying strongly any episode of past violence against the mother. At a hearing listed as the final hearing of the fathers application for contact, the judge adjourned the case for over 6 months, ordering indirect contact between the father and the children, and giving the guardian leave to arrange supervised contact. The preamble to the order expressed the hope that the mother would seek counselling and that the father would obtain anger management training. The guardian appealed, supported by mother.
The postponement had been pointless, as the steps proposed by the judge were unrealistic or unachievable. The judges order was set aside; the court made a 6 month family assistance order in respect of the mother and the children, and a s 91(14) order in respect of the father.