A judge’s decision to separate two teenage brothers from their mother and also from each other was based on her own personal opinion of the boys and has therefore been overturned.
The residence of the brothers came into dispute ten years after the separation of their parents. They had always lived with their mother and her new partner, and had weekend visits to their father.
This routine broke down when the boys decided they didn’t want to see their father anymore. The father applied for contact with a conditional residence order. When his sons didn’t attend a scheduled meeting, he had the residency order enforced.
The boys moved in with their father but soon ran away. The case was rushed through to the Family Court for a temporary solution to be found.
The judge had an informal conversation with the boys before the hearing and formed her own opinion that they were “out of control”. She ordered that the younger brother should live with his father and the older brother move in with a foster family until a final decision could be made.
This would be the first time the brothers had been separated from their mother, and from each other.
The Court of Appeal overturned the decision. It ruled that the judge had let her own impression of the boys influence her decision in splitting them up. The potential damage and emotional distress were not considered.
The boys would return to their mother and her partner for the time being, with visits from the local authority to check on their welfare and also promote contact with the father.
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