Intractable Contact Dispute

Intractable contact dispute cases are where the mother is not complying with court orders that allow the father contact to the children. Most of these cases involve parental alienation.


H (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 1440

Appeal by a grandmother for contact with her grandchild. Child apparently refusing direct contact. However, CAFCASS failed to make a record of the child’s views. The case was sent back don’t for the CAFCASS officer to try again.


A v A [2013] EWHC 3554 (Fam)

Case where the mother may or may not have abandoned the children in Pakistan. In previous hearings the father was ordered to bring the children back to England. He brought 3 of the 4 back. The children were reluctant to have contact with the mother. Judge ruled that the children have been given a false memory by the father of being abandoned by the mother. A s.37 interim care order was made with to remove the children from the care of the father into care with a view to placing them into the mother’s care


C (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 1412

A case where the court had failed the father, who was a litigant in person. Allegations of domestic violence had been made and withdrawn by the mother. However, A CAFCASS officer reported the allegations as fact even though no finding of fact hearing had ever taken place. The judge made a ruling and court orders based on the ‘fact’ of the allegations. The father won the appeal and the case was sent back down to the lower courts to deal with again.


Re E (A Child) [2011] EWHC 3521 (Fam)

A case of parental alienation where Justice Hedley gave out guidelines in such cases. He reiterates that the guardian must remain involved.

Justice Hedley also emphasised the importance of identifying intractable cases as early as possible. At early stages welfare reports should be made before considering fact findings. Also Judicial continuity is vital.


S (Children) [2010] EWCA Civ 447

Case where local judge had failed to make findings on whether the mother had alienated the children from the father. Appeal court overturned the local judge’s orders and returned it back to the lower courts for them to appoint an expert in parental alienation.


TE v SH and S [2010] EWHC 192 (Fam)

Detailed and extensive judgement examining a case where the son who had not seen his father in four years. A psychiatrist with extensive experience in intractable contact disputes made findings that the child had been alienated from the father and the father’s family. The son having suffered significant harm and likely to sustain further harm while the child remains alienated.  The judge orders a change of residence to the father, despite the likelihood that the child was likely to be distressed for the first few days.


A (A Child) [2007] EWCA Civ 899

Mother although able to look after child well was not capable of promoting contact with the father. The mother was videotaped being aggressive and abusive to the father when collecting the child at the end of contact. The mother was incapable of change and seemingly oblivious the impact of her behaviour would have on the child.


C (A Child)[2007] EWCA Civ 866

Appeal in an implacable contact case. Appeal dismissed.

Judge demonstrated a robust approach to the mother’s hostility to contact. Counsel for the mother had argued that the judge had been driven by the desire to punish the mother and not the interests of the child. However, Ward LJ reviewed his judgment and concluded that the judge had taken the relevant factors into account and was within his discretion to make the transfer of residence order. He then added if the judge had made no order then that would be to abdicate responsibility for a decision is “why week after week fathers come to this court protesting that the court is powerless to enforce its orders…. This time the boot is on the other foot, and if a different conclusion has been reached in this case then let it be shouted out from the roof-tops.”


M (Children) [2005] EWCA Civ 1090

Despite a mother who had psychiatric illnesses in the past that caused her to behave in dangerous ways to the children including an incident of strangulation, the judges ruled that the father had alienated the children. {would they try as hard if gender were reversed?}


C v C [2005] EWHC 2935 (Fam)

A case where the children being resident with the father and have become alienated from the mother and refusing contact. Judge pressurising father to comply with the threat of a S.37 report by the local authority (social services investigation). {would they try as hard if gender were reversed?}


G v A [2005 JLR 93]

Criticisms and guidelines of a case of parental alienation by father against the mother.


A v A [2004] EWHC 142 (Fam)

Shared residence is granted in a case of Parental Alienation by Mother with coaching and false allegations. NYAS’s involvement was crucial in creating an equitable if still argumentative situation.


Harris v Harris [2001]

How the court system gets it absolutely wrong. Best to avoid such situations. However, things ended well for Mark Harris and he was vindicated.


Re M (minors) (Access) [1991] 1 FLR 355

An early case where the mother is flouting court orders and a suspended committal order is appealed by mother successfully on a technicality.