F-O v O (D 32 of 2021) [2022] TCASC 47 (19 December 2022)

Civil Remedies
Case summary
The Court adopted the recommendations of the 27th October 2022 report with the modification that the children will spend holidays together such holidays to be divided equally between the parents. The Court was of the view that this has the best prospects of bringing about a result that is in the best interest of the children, that being having a working relationship with both parents where they [the parents] are also working in the children’s best interest [50]. The Court noted that it is only in the most exceptional cases that siblings should be separated and that the decision should not be determined by what the parents ‘can live with’. The paramount concern is what is in the best interests of the children [40]. The concern over separating the siblings was a real concern in this matter, particularly so in circumstances where the children are happy whether they are with their mother or with their father and their wishes and feelings are not particularly biased in any direction [46]. It was the very clear opinion of the social workers that the problems this family is facing results from the interaction between the parents. The major difficulties appear to have resolved somewhat with the mother’s move to Grand Turk, albeit that in itself has created a difficulty with respect to access [47]. Another real factor was what had been described as litigation fatigue perceived by both parents. Whilst such fatigue was not a guiding principle as to how to decide this matter, the Court was of the view that having some kind of finality to these long running proceedings would assist the parents in overcoming their animosity for each other [48]. The Court was of the opinion that if this family has any realistic chance of functioning with a degree of normality, which has to be in the best interests of the children, then a solution needs to be achieved whereby the parents are able to work together in the best interests of the children or to put it another way; co-parent [49]. The Court was comforted by the recommendation that the wider social development professional network is willing to continue to be involved with this family and, whilst it had reservations with respect to the suggestion that for the children’s counselling to be effective, they must be separated, adopted a holistic evaluation to this matter [50]. The Court impressed on the parents, that any order made by the Court in respect of children is never final and if difficulties arise as a result of the children being separated then the matter can and should be brought back before the Court [51].

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