On 12 April 2013, Mr Justice Baker handed down a judgement to terminate a father’s parental responsibility. Unsurprisingly, as the first judgement on the issue since 1995, it has already raised a great deal of interest within the sector.
The case involved a father who was convicted for sexual offences against his step daughters. On being released from prison, his ex-partner applied to the court to terminate his parental responsibility because the father wanted to have contact with his biological son who lives with his half sisters (the victims).
In passing the judgement, Mr Justice Baker made it clear that as a starting point it should be the view of the court that once parental responsibility has been obtained this should not be terminated for anything less than solid reasons. That said, this needed to be weighed up against the child’s interests, being the paramount consideration.
In presenting his decision, the judge acknowledged the importance of the need of the child (D), to grow up with some understanding of his origins and, whenever possible, (have) a relationship with each biological parent. He balanced this need against the importance of the child’s overall and future emotional wellbeing and security. In ordering that the father’s parental responsibility be terminated Mr Justice Baker said that the reason for this conclusion was that “in this case there (was) no element of the bundle of responsibilities which his father could in present or foreseeable circumstances exercise in a way that would be beneficial for D”.
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