The weight of children’s wishes and feelings in family cases

A judge has recently re instated the limited weight that is placed on the ‘wishes and feelings’ of children in family cases.

The Court of Appeal has ruled that a mother can relocate to Ireland with her 10-year-old daughter despite her daughter’s expressed desire to remain in England with her father.

The Judge granted the mother permission to relocate to Ireland on the grounds that her daughter would be provided with a more stable and secure future. The mother has been the primary carer of the child since separating from the child’s father a number of years ago. The Judge said: ‘The child is relatively young and cannot comprehend the complexities with which her mother must wrestle. She does not understand that her current way of life is not sustainable. The adults in her life have to provide for her and the proposals put forward by her mother do that sensibly and adequately.’

The father of the child argued on appeal that the Judge had not taken in to account the girl’s insistence that she did not want to leave England. The girl is settled in school, has many friends and is able to enjoy regular contact with her father and her paternal family.

However, the Court dismissed the fathers appeal on the basis that the mothers move to Ireland would allow her more flexible working conditions ultimately enabling her to spend more time with her daughter, and become more financially secure.

The opinion of the Court was, if the girls wishes and feelings were considered further then she would become heavily involved in any further proceedings and this would be ‘unthinkable’ and as a result harmful to the child’s welfare.