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C (Child: Involvement in Jehovah’s Witness Religion) [2017] EWFC B29

Judgment which specified the extent to which the child should be part of the father’s religious beliefs, namely to follow the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witness Church.


    Sitting at Milton Keynes

    Milton Keynes Magistrates' Court

    Silbury Boulevard

    Milton Keynes

    MK9 2AJ

    Date: 9 May, 2017

    B e f o r e:



    IN THE MATTER OF C (Child: Involvement in Jehovah's Witness Religion)


    Ms Samantha Dunn (Woodfines) appeared on behalf of the Father

    Ms Julia Shillingford (Thomas Haywood) appeared on behalf of the Mother




    Crown Copyright ©

    Agreed facts:

    1. I am concerned with a child, C, aged 6 years and 9 months. C's Father is F who appeared in court represented by Ms Dunn. C's Mother is M who appeared in court represented by Ms Shillingford

    2. The Father applied for a child arrangements order issued on 13 October, 2016 to spend time with C and for a specific issues order allowing C to be part of the Father's religious beliefs, namely to follow the teachings of the Jehovah's Witness Church. The Mother raised concerns about the Father's religious beliefs and how these might harm C via her C1A which she returned on 10 November, 2016.

    3. At an earlier hearing I refused an application by the Mother to transfer the case to the county court for onward transmission to the High Court (opposed by the Father). I ruled that such a transfer was unnecessary since the applicable legal principles had been settled in the Re N cases and transfer would involve unnecessary delay which was not in C's best interests. I adjourned an application by the Mother for me to order a s7 welfare report (again opposed by the Father) until after I had heard evidence and submissions from the parties.

    4. On 29 March, 2017, having read the bundles of documents as set out in the index and the parties' position statements and skeleton arguments, I heard evidence from both parents and was shown some examples of bibles stories and cartoons as illustrations of religious teaching. I then ran out of time so adjourned the case for the advocates to make written submissions by 19 April, 2017 and for the parties to return on 9 May, 2017 for me to deliver judgement. This is my judgement.

    5. The Father is of Grenadian origin. The Mother is White British. The parties met from about 2000 and married on 13 September, 2003 at a civil ceremony. During the parents' 15 year relationship neither party practiced a religion. They celebrated birthdays, Christmas and Easter as a family. The Father did take C to Kingdom Hall meetings once or twice when the Paternal Grandmother visited. In March, 2015 the Father suffered a mental health breakdown and was spent 10 days in hospital. After discharge from hospital he was prescribed with medication. In May, 2015 the Father started to study to become a Jehovah's Witness. This put a strain on the relationship with the Mother saying that the Father became from her point of view 'unrecognisable' and 'completely focused on his religion'. The Father says that his new found religion was an important part of his recovery and that his new faith is essential to his new life. He is to be baptised into the religion in April, 2017. The Mother is concerned that the Father has become obsessed with his new faith and that aspects of it are and will be harmful to C.

    6. In July, 2016 the Father left the family home to reside in a one bedroom flat. C and the Mother remained in the family home. The Mother and Father agreed that C should live with the Mother and attempted to agree on how C should spend time with the Father via mediation which unfortunately broke down on 26 August, 2016 because of disagreements as to how C should be involved in the Father's new religion. As part of the mediation process the Mother sought restrictions on C's involvement in the Father's new faith which the Father did not agree to. The Father then spoke to C on the phone but from the Father's point of view there was limited direct contact. The Father then applied for child arrangements and specific issues orders (for the court to determine when C should spend time with the Father and to determine C's involvement in the Father's religion) which were issued on 13 October, 2016. The applications were listed for a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment on 14 December, 2016. On that date District Judge Burgher made an agreed interim child arrangements order that C live with the Mother and spend time with the Father including on alternate weekends commencing 16 December, 2016 after school on Friday to 6m on Sunday and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from after school to 6pm. The Father gave undertakings not to introduce C to services, conventions, assemblies, religious cartoons or media or any on line Sunday service until further order. The matter was then listed for a final hearing on 3 March, 2017 with a time estimate of one day before me. On 3 March, 2017 I refused the application to transfer to the High Court and adjourned an application for a s7 welfare report and due to shortness of time adjourned the full hearing to 29 March, 2017 when I had time to hear evidence.

    7. The current arrangements for C to spend time with his Father are those as ordered by the court in December, 2016:

    i. C to speak to his Father on the phone

    ii. The Father to pick up C from school on a Tuesday and Wednesday and return him to the Mother at 6pm

    iii. The Father to have C every other weekend from Friday school to 5pm on Sunday or 6pm on Monday where there is a bank holiday weekend

    iv. Agreed holiday contact when the Father would look after C when the Mother was not available.

    8. At the hearing on 29 March, 2017 the issues narrowed in that the Father agreed not to take C on field service, not to read C bible stories and not to show C any form of religious biased media. The Father asked that his concessions end when C reached an appropriate age and expressed a wish to be involved in such activities. The Father made various proposals during the course of the proceedings but finally settled on a proposed shared care child arrangements order as set out above.

    9. The disputed issues are to what extent C should be involved in the Father's faith? The Father asks that he be allowed to take C to:

    i. a memorial service usually in April, 2017 one evening 7pm to 9pm (described by the Father as taking place in a school hall and comprising of a 45 minute talk and an opening and closing song and prayer with child friendly activities)

    ii. a weekend convention at a stadium usually in July/August (described by the Father as like a Sunday service but on a bigger scale featuring video dramas, short talks and re-enactments (e.g. how to publicly proclaim the faith without shame according to the Father) with adults and children leaving as and when they want to) – the Father says he will limit C's involvement to no more than 3 hours

    iii. Sunday services from 10am to 12noon (according to the Father consisting mainly of songs, prayers and bible discussion with family friendly activities – the children can get involved in discussion points if they want to).

    iv. Two Assemblies of one day over a weekend in April and December 10am to 4pm in London (described by the Father as similar to conventions including played out dramas, short talks and baptisms) – the Father says he will limit C's involvement to no more than 3 hours

    v. Whether the order as to C's living arrangements and spending time arrangements should be expressed as a shared care arrangement in recognition of the equal parental responsibility of each parent

    vi. The detail of holiday contact

    vii. What to do in the event of a medical emergency

    viii. Whether a s7 report is necessary.

    10. The Father says that all of the above activities are child friendly and that he would respect C's wishes if he did not wish to be involved in any of these activities.

    11. The Mother raised concerns about the Father's mental health. I have read letters from Dr Y, a Specialist Doctor in Psychiatry acting under a Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr X, dated December, 2016 and January, 2017 (based on an interview in December, 2016). In the letter of December, 2016 Dr Y states that he is the psychiatrist in charge of the Father's treatment and care for his mental health. He says that the Father is in recovery, remains under the care of the Community Mental Health Team and does not present any symptoms of mental illness and that in terms of the Father's mental health, Dr Y considers the Father to be of no risk to C. Dr Y's letter of January, 2017 is more detailed and sets out the Father's management plan. I heard nothing that doubts Dr Y's view that the Father is stable and well and in recovery and not displaying any relapse indicators with a management plan of medication to be discontinued by summer 2017 and with a review in May, 2017 and the Father being able to access a duty desk if he has any problems. The only matter of concern for me was that the Father had already discontinued his medication. The Father gave evidence that Dr Y had allowed the Father to manage his own medication even though this is not what is stated in Dr Y's letter. My concerns were mitigated by the review in May, 2017and the Father being able to access the help desk. The Mother was concerned that when the Father stopped his medication she found him not to be himself and was vacant and seemed agitated by any form of communication. The Father did not demonstrate any of this behaviour when giving evidence in court. He gave clear and detailed instructions and made what in judgement were sensible concessions during the course of the court proceedings. He also gave evidence that he was now eating and sleeping properly and back in full time work as a delivery driver. As a result I was not satisfied that the Mother's concerns were made out.

    12. It is accepted that following the parents' difficulties in their relationship and the Father's mental health problems C showed signs of disturbance in 2015 for which he received therapy including art therapy. He was suspended from school for a half day in October, 2016 because of behaviour problems. The Mother sets out her concerns about the effect on C at C25 of the bundle. What is not clear is whether these signs of disturbance were caused by the parents' separation or by the Father's new faith (and the Father involving C in that faith) or some combination of factors.

    13. Particular aspects of the Jehovah's Witness Faith that were discussed in Re N (A Child – Religion – Jehovah's Witness [2011] EWHC 26. This is a decision of HHJ Bellamy sitting as a s9 High Court Judge.

    Jehovah's Witnesses:

    (a) are committed to converting others; they give time each week to further and spread their beliefs, engaging in house to house evangelism; it is common for Jehovah's Witnesses to take their children with them on this house to house ministry;

    (b) are committed to studying the Bible (using their own translation of the Bible, the New World Translation) both in their meetings at the Kingdom Hall and individually, at home;

    (c) do not celebrate Christmas, Easter or birthdays, whether by religious or social activities; they believe that the celebration of these events is based on pagan customs;

    (d) believe that blood transfusions are against the will of God; they therefore refuse blood transfusions or the use of blood products in the course of medical treatment, whether for themselves or for their children;

    (e) refuse military service; they do not believe in war;

    (f) maintain a degree of separation from those who are not members of the movement; social contact tends to be within the Jehovah's Witness circle;

    (g) do not engage in ecumenical relationships or in inter-faith dialogue; they are an insular movement.

    The Law relating to the upbringing of a child where one parent is a Jehovah's Witness and the other is not

    14. The law is helpfully set in the cases of Re N (A Child – Religion – Jehovah's Witness [2011] EWHC 26 and Re N (A Child:s37:ICO) [2014] EWFC 53 both heard by HHJ Bellamy sitting as a s9 High Court Judge. He set out the following principles which I also follow:

    1. It is not for the state or the courts to determine the validity of religious beliefs

    2. Parental responsibility is joint and equal. Neither parent has a predominant right to choose a child's religious upbringing

    3. Where parents follow different religions and those religions are socially acceptable a child should have the opportunity to learn about and experience both religions

    4. A parent's right to enable his or her child to learn about and experience his or her religion is not an unconfined right. Where the practice of that religion involves a lifestyle which conflicts with the lifestyle of the other parent and the court is satisfied that the conflict had had or may have in the future an impact on the child's welfare the court is entitled to restrict the child's involvement in those practices. The state can interfere where the practice of religious beliefs impacts on a child's welfare. For example an insightful parent of a particular religious persuasion recognises the potential for harm to his or her child by immersing that child in those beliefs and practices in a way that jeopardises that child's enduring relationship with the other parent. Adherence to any faith cannot be more important than fostering a good relationship between the child and the other parent

    5. Restrictions imposed for welfare reasons do not necessarily amount to a breach of that parent's right to follow the beliefs and practices of his or her religion provided that any restriction imposed is justified by the findings made by the court and are proportionate.

    6. In determining such an issue as in the determination of any other question relating to the upbringing of the child, the child's welfare is the paramount consideration.

    15. Re N is a tragic and cautionary tale of when parents behaved so inappropriately that HHJ Bellamy was forced to remove the child from both his parents' care and place the child in foster care – such was the emotional damage done to him by an emotionally 'cold' Father (who was not a Jehovah's Witness) and an obsessive Mother (who was a Jehovah's Witness) who so indoctrinated the child in that faith that it caused the child conflict and confusion that damaged his relationship with his Father and caused him untold emotional harm. If the Mother in that case had followed the restrictions on the practice of her religion set down by HHJ Bellamy then she might not have lost her son to foster care. I warned the Father in this case that if he were to behave in any way like the Mother in Re N he could lose the right to see his son at all or have considerable restrictions imposed on how and when he can see C.

    Particular considerations in relation to Jehovah's Witnesses taken from Re N judgement):

    16. It was conceded in the N case that there was no reason why a child should not attend the Kingdom Hall without limit and the annual evening celebration of the Memorial of Christ's death and a special assembly day and a weekend circuit assembly and 2 days of the annual 3 day convention but not to include any day on which the child is due to attend school. This is not conceded in this case.

    17. The court can forbid parental 'teaching' by way of a parent 'instructing or giving lessons' in the Jehovah's Witness faith where there is the actual or potential risk that the child will experience consciously or unconsciously pressure to subscribe to that parent's religious beliefs in preference to the other parent's and/or there is a risk that that at some stage the child would become caught up in the conflict between two sets of beliefs and thereby experience inner conflict between his loyalty to one parent and his loyalty to the other. It is both proportionate and necessary and in the child's best interests to restrict the parents' right to 'instruct' or 'give lessons' concerning their Christian beliefs to avoid this kind of actual or potential conflict for the child. This can include limiting teaching by way of Bible studies and the showing of any kind of religious cartoons where it necessary and proportionate to do so to prevent this kind of actual or risk of harm to the child. The Father has conceded this point in this case namely that he will not do one to one teaching with C by way of bible studies or religious based media.

    18. The court can forbid field service namely walking from door to door since it is both necessary and proportionate to prevent a young child being involved in such activities which runs the risk of the child being subject to inhospitable and abusive behaviour and also include the kind of 'teaching' prohibited above. The Father has conceded this point in this case and undertook not to take C on field service.

    19. The court can order that the child spend Christmas with a non Jehovah's Witness parent so that the child can enjoy Christmas given that the Jehovah's Witness parent does not recognise Christmas as a time for celebration. The Father accepts this point in this case and offered relevant undertakings.

    20. Similarly the court can order that a child spend his or her birthday and his or her parent's birthday with that parent rather than with the Jehovah's Witness parent since Jehovah's witnesses do not celebrate birthdays. The Father accepts this point in this case.

    21. Similarly the court can order that a child spends Father's or Mother's Day with that parent rather than the Jehovah's Witness parent since Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate those days. The Father accepts this point in this case whereby C will spend Mother's Day with the Mother.

    22. The court can order that neither parent should prevent the child from taking part in school activities including Nativity plays, other plays, performances, concerts, after school clubs, sports and field trips since to deny the child of the opportunity to take part in such activities would be likely to mark him out as 'different' from other children and could potentially cause him distress.

    23. In relation to medical treatment the parents in Re N reached what I considered to be a complicated agreement. The Father in this case undertakes that in a life threatening emergency situation he is content for the Mother to override his consent and, if C is in his care, inform the medical authorities of the contact details of the Mother. In a non life threatening situation he wishes for non blood alternatives to be explored so that all options can be considered.

    What shall I do in C's case?

    24. Welfare checklist:

    a) The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child(ren) concerned; C is too young to express his wishes and feelings. I suspect if asked he would say that he wants to feel safe and secure and have a good relationship with both of his parents. He would not want either parent to say anything nasty or unpleasant about the other and for his parents to be nice to each other even though they are living apart.

    b) The (child's)(children's) physical, emotional and educational needs; C needs safe, secure and stable parenting with consistent boundaries given his age. He needs an enduring relationship with both of his parents. This is of particular importance given his mixed heritage. His Mother has described C as an impressionable child who is easily confused and with problems regulating his emotions. Both parents describe him as bright, delightful, cheeky, energetic and sporty. C enjoys sports such as swimming and trampolining.

    c) The likely effect on the (child)(children) of any change in circumstances; C currently lives with his Mother and spends about 6 hours a week with his Father over Tuesdays and Wednesdays and additionally every other weekend. In terms of overall time this amounts to roughly 70% of C's time being spent with in his Mother's care (though he is at school or at other activities for some of that time) and 30% of his time with his Father. The suggested changes for C are for him to be involved with his Father's faith by attending Sunday services and the convention and assemblies outlined above. In addition the Father seeks half of holiday time which would be an increase on the current amount of time C spends with his Father over school holidays. I will deal with the likely effect on C of these suggested changes at the end of my judgement.

    d) The (child's)(children's) age, sex, background and any other characteristics which the Court considers relevant; no issues arise that are not dealt with elsewhere in this judgement.

    e) Any harm the (child has)(children have) suffered or (is)(are) at risk of suffering; it is more likely than not that C has been harmed by his parents' separation. Some of that upset will no doubt relate directly to the Father becoming ill, the stresses that led to the end of the Mother's and Father's relationship and the Father leaving the family home. It is more difficult to assign whether upset has been caused by the Father involving C in the Father's faith. The Mother makes reference to C saying to her 'God is good and you are bad' (C25 paragraph 8 of the bundle). When C said this not clear and I have assumed it was sometime before August, 2016. Both parents accept that C has been more settled at school since January, 2017. He still has play therapy. In my judgement it is more likely than not that he became more settled once he started seeing his Father regularly in December, 2016. The hope is that C will remain settled in the future now that the court proceedings in relation to him have been brought to an end. The Father has conceded that he should not be involved in one to one teaching with C in his faith and should not show C Jehovah's Witness cartoons and like media that could be harmful to C. In my judgement this was a wise concession. I watched 3 cartoons produced by the Jehovah Witness Church: 'Obey Jehovah', 'Pay attention at meetings' and 'One man one woman'. In 'Obey Jehovah' a child is taught about the sinfulness of having a cartoon character toy with magical powers which the child had to put in a bin. While making sense to a child if both parents were Jehovah's Witnesses such a cartoon would send a very confusing message to a child like C who has one foot in his Mother's world and a wider world (in which magical characters are everywhere in books, television, DVDs, on the internet and in films) and his other foot in his Father's world where such magical characters are sinful. The Mother asserts that in her submissions that the objective of the cartoons and bible stories is to condition and indoctrinate children into Jehovah's Witness beliefs through a mixture of fear, manipulation and a strict boundary between behaviour which is acceptable and pleasing and that which is not. The Father accepts that C should not be exposed to such religious based media until C is at least 12 years of age. Given that it is accepted that C is more settled and there is no recent evidence of C saying inappropriate things to his Mother it appears to me that the Father is complying with his promise not to adversely influence C as Mother fears.

    f) The capability of the parents and any other relevant persons of meeting the (child's)(children's) needs; the Mother has been the consistent figure in C's life. She struck me as the organiser who plans and organises the great majority of C's many activities. For example she set up an i-calendar for the Father so that he knows about all the various activities C is involved in. She also struck me as the parent who sets firm boundaries and thinks of the best ways of manage C e.g. using a traffic light system for discipline. She struck me as being over anxious about C but this is a mild criticism. The Father on the other hand struck me as less organised and not as concerned with routines and boundaries as Mother. The Mother was critical of the Father in not backing her up in terms. While understanding her criticism I must give some leeway for each parent to be free to have different parenting styles. I was not satisfied on the evidence that the Father was not committed to C's activities and routine. I accepted his evidence that he supported the Mother and made his own efforts to speak to the school and C's therapist. While I pay tribute to the organisational skills and commitment of the Mother this does not mean that the Father is less committed – only that he is content to leave the organisation to the Mother and on occasion to parent C in his own way.

    a. The Mother contended that I may not be able to trust the Father given his changing positions during the course of the proceedings and late concessions. The Mother argued that the Father lacked insight. I disagree. In my judgement the Father made sensible concessions, with some judicial prompting from me, and changes to the child arrangements order he sought. His changing position demonstrated to me insight and awareness particularly taking into account my warnings to him of the consequences for his relationship with C if he behaves in the way the Mother did in Re N. I noted that the Father did say that he saw nothing wrong in the religious based cartoons and that he had breached his undertaking and shown religious based cartoons to C. I accepted his evidence that he realised that this was wrong, that he does not want to jeopardise his relationship with C or with the Mother and that he will be bound by formal undertakings given to the court and recorded in the court order.

    b. The Father has a one bedroom flat. When C stays the Father sleeps on the sofa in the living room and C sleeps in the Father's bed.

    g) The range of powers available to the Court under this Act in the proceedings in question; I have available to me the full range of s8 orders.

    I have considered Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, 'the right to respect for private and family life,' in relation C and each of his parents. I also have had regard to Article 9 'the right to religious freedom' within the legal framework set down in Re N.

    My Decision:

    25. Shared care: Shared care does not reflect the reality that each week the Mother cares or is responsible for C for 70 per cent of the time (albeit for some of that time C is at school and at other activities). I appreciate that the parents share weekends alternately but the bulk of the responsibility for caring for C and planning and organising his many activities falls on the Mother. I have found that she is the organiser who has shown a great deal of commitment in organising therapy for C and in helping the Father in maintaining continuity with C's many activities. The orders that reflect this reality are orders that C live with his Mother and spend time with his Father rather than a shared care order. This in no way takes away that parenting is a joint responsibility. The Father should not see this as some kind of loss for him or some kind of victory for the Mother or that he is a lesser parent. It reflects the reality of the time spent between the two parents and who has taken the lead in organising C's life and responding to his needs particularly in terms of therapy.

    26. Holiday contact: I agree with the Father that the Mother's position on holiday contact is illogical. C spends alternate weekends overnight with his Father. I cannot see any risk to C of spending longer periods overnight with his Father. There is no evidence that C does not enjoy spending overnight with his Father. I agree with the Mother that C needs routines and has a full range of activities organised for him. I accept the Father's evidence that he is respectful of such activities and routines but has some leeway for him to parent C in his own way. The Mother accepts that the Father has looked after C for a number of weekends from December, 2015 without adverse effects As a result I make the following orders for holiday contact:

    27. School holidays: that the Father has C for half of school holidays with the days to be agreed between the parties.

    28. Summer holiday: that the Father has C for half of the summer holidays with the periods to be agreed between the parties. This can include C spending 2 weeks with his Father and a separate 3rd week. The alternate weekend contact is suspended over the summer period so that each parent can take C away on holiday for 2-3 weeks.

    29. Additional contact: the Father should have such additional contact as is agreed to between the parties.

    30. Kingdom Hall/Assemblies/Annual Conventions and Memorials: the Father impressed me with the concessions he, in my judgement, sensibly made. As a result I have confidence in him that he will abide by his undertakings which I have already referred to. I heard no evidence that he was in any way devious or manipulative in the way the Mother was in Re N whereby she defied court orders and so badly influenced her child whereby she lost care of him. Indeed I am satisfied of the Father's genuine motivation that C maintains his strong relationship with his Mother. Applying Re N (in particular at 16.3 above) I find that C should have the opportunity to learn and experience his Father's religion. I therefore do not wish to restrict him from taking C to the Kingdom Hall each Sunday for up to 2 hours. I do not see that this practice of the Father's faith for a limited period within a group service with child friendly activities poses a risk of jeopardy to C's relationship with his Mother. C has attended 2 meetings at the Kingdom Hall when he spent time colouring in and playing with other children. I accepted the Father's evidence that the service mainly consists of songs, prayers and bible discussions and that the services are designed for families with children and the content pitched accordingly. I accept that there is no guarantee that the kind of material shown to me by way of bible stories and/or religious based cartoons may not be shown during such services but I consider the risk to C small within the context of this kind of service. Many parents co-parent a child despite pursuing different or no faiths without emotional harm to the child. In addition I see no reason why the Father, on his alternate weekends, should not choose to take C to the Kingdom Hall in place of any other activity arranged on Sunday mornings by the Mother. I do not find it unreasonable for C to spend one Sunday morning doing one activity and the following Sunday morning at the Kingdom Hall. This respects the different parenting provided by each parent. It also balances the respect for one parent's religious beliefs and the right of that parent to introduce his son to those beliefs within the context of a service of 1-2 hours. I consider the risk that C will be given messages that endanger his relationship with his Mother are sufficiently small whereby it is not necessary or proportionate to limit the Father in the practice of his religious beliefs and involving C in them via Kingdom Hall Sunday services. I heard evidence about C playing rugby on Sunday mornings and then giving it up. I was unable to make findings as to why C gave up rugby – whether because he simply no longer wanted to play or whether because of a lack of commitment or discouragement from the Father. I repeat that I do not consider it unreasonable for one parent to take his child to a religious service in preference to another activity.

    31. I take a different view of Assemblies, Annual Conventions and Memorials. These are much longer events. The Father has undertaken to limit C's involvement to no more than 3 hours. Nevertheless these events strike me as more intense, focussed, longer and instructive than Sunday Kingdom Hall services. At his young age I find that there is a far greater likelihood that C will be subject to kind of instruction akin to the one to one teaching and the religious based media the Father has undertaken not to involve C in. Such events are likely to involve smaller groups. In his evidence the Father described one activity as members of the Church giving testimonials e.g. on street ministry. There is a far greater risk that C will be influenced in the way the child was in Re N with disastrous consequences given his age and how impressionable he is and the risk of emotional damage due to confusing messages. As a result I find it necessary and proportionate to prohibit the Father from taking C to Jehovah's Witness Assemblies, Annual Conventions and Memorials. The Father acknowledged that such a restriction was one I was likely to consider and asked that I time limit any restriction to a date when C was old enough to know his own mind. I find the Father's argument too much of a crystal ball gazing exercise dependant on too many variables so I propose to make the order until C is sixteen years of age subject to the Mother and Father agreeing otherwise or either party making application to the court to vary the prohibited steps order e.g. when C is old enough to ask either of his parents to attend an Assembly, Convention or Memorial and either parents agree that this is in his best interests or the court rules accordingly. The same applies to the Father's concessions about Field Service, one to one teaching and showing C religious based media. These undertakings must remain in place until sixteen years of age or until the parents both agree otherwise or further application to the court.

    32. Medical treatment: it is accepted that in any life threatening situation the guidance to medical authorities is to administer life saving treatment even if opposed by a parent. . The Father in this case undertakes that in an emergency situation he is content for the Mother to override his consent and, if C is in his care, inform the medical authorities of the contact details of the Mother. In a non emergency situation he wishes for non blood alternatives to be explored so that all options can be considered. I consider this a reasonable arrangement save that if C is admitted to hospital while in the Father's care I require him to inform the Mother immediately including the contact details of the relevant hospital and I require the same of the Mother. This reflects a proper exercise of joint parental responsibility and allows any treating professional to consult both parents in non emergency cases.

    33. Section 7 report: given I consider I have had sufficient evidence to make final orders I see no need to order a s7 welfare report. I do not find that such a report is necessary for me to make final orders.

    This is my decision.

Judgment, published: 12/06/2017


Published: 12/06/2017


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