E-R (Child Arrangements Order No.2: Costs)



[2017] EWHC 2535 (Fam)

These 2 cases Re E-R (Child Arrangements No 2) [2017] EWHC 2382 (Fam) and E-R(Child Arrangements order No. 2: Costs) [2017] EWHC 2535 (Fam) follow on from a case last year Re E-R (Child Arrangements) [2016] EWHC 805 (Fam) where the child was represented by Melanie Johnson. Mary Hughes represented the child in the 2017 proceedings.

The child’s mother died about two years ago and shortly before her death a court ordered that on her mother’s death she should move to live with her father away from Mrs H the family friend with whom she had been living with her mother prior to her mother’s death. It was the mother’s dying wish that her daughter should remain with Mrs H. Mrs H appealed this decision to the CA and it was remitted to Mr J Cobb for determination. In 2016 he made a detailed order confirming the child should live with Mrs H but spend increasing amounts of time with her father and his partner. The father was ordered to pay £10000 costs which remain unpaid.

The father failed in several respects to comply with this order and the matter came back before Mr J Cobb in 2017. By this time the child did not want to meet with the father’s partner and only wanted limited contact with her father.

The father and his partner represented themselves with the assistance of a Mackenzie Friend. They continued to make it clear that they would not accept any orders made by the judge and threatened a range of litigation against Mrs H, the lawyers and the guardian as well as expressing displeasure at the court process. Mr J Cobb made an order for limited contact with the father only and urged the parties to engage in family therapy.

In the second judgment he ordered the father to pay £15000 towards Mrs H’s costs estimated at £35000 not to be enforced without leave of the court. It is of course highly unusual for a costs order to be made against a “losing party” in family cases.

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