Family Law Hub

AB v CD & Anor [2021] EWHC 819 (Fam)

The parties had married in 2011 but separated a year later, when the mother was pregnant with their child. The father appealed against findings of fact that he had (i) raped the mother twice whilst she was in bed with their young child, (ii) emotionally abused the mother, and (iii) threatened to abduct the child. The appeal focused on what was said to be the failure by the judge to consider the allegations in their totality. Criticism was made of her decision not to consider and weigh the evidence in respect of, or to balance in her decision-making, the evidence relating to a number of core allegations made by the respondent. Complaint was made that she had compartmentalised the evidence and that she had failed to consider properly the appellant's case that the allegations against him had been fabricated. Roberts J reached the conclusion that the judge's findings could not stand, not necessarily because she was wrong, but because of the manner in which she appeared to have reached those conclusions. The reasoning was insufficient to explain how the judge had conducted her assessment of credibility and which matters she had, or had not, weighed in the balance when reaching her conclusions. In a case where one party was alleging that allegations had been fabricated as part of a course of conduct designed to marginalise a parent from the life of a child of the family, it was incumbent on the fact-finder to explain carefully why that case was rejected. That had not happened in this case. The appellant had been left with the impression that his case had not received the careful consideration which it deserved. The appeal was allowed, the findings set aside, and the matter would be remitted for an early rehearing.

Judgment, published: 05/04/2021

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Published: 05/04/2021

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