Insights and inspiration
A Father not a Father?
19 June 2014
It is not often we report on overseas cases except where they directly concern Australian law but this is an interesting exception. In the case of A and B v P Council and M the English courts had to deal with an application to adopt a nine year old child by the child's stepfather. The child was born in Thailand. The Thai mother and the British stepfather married in Thailand in 2006 and shortly afterwards came to England to live. They had two children together.
The nine year old child had had no contact with his father since the child was a baby. The stepfather, supported by the mother, applied to adopt the child and the question for the court was whether, as is usually the case, the child's father should be notified of the adoption application.
The mother said that the father had been violent towards her when she was in Thailand and she feared there would be a real risk that he would be threatening and violent to her family (still in Thailand) if he were notified of the case. She also said:
- he had no parental responsibility under Thai law
- in any event nobody knew where he was
The judge said that he would not be treated as a parent within the meaning of UK law, even if under an international treaty he might hold parental responsibility. In any event, where the father had not taken any meaningful steps to retain contact with the child, there was nothing to show that the father had a right to respect for his family life with the child in accordance with the European Convention.
Therefore, in effect, by law the child's biology was rewritten and the father became not the father to all intents and purposes. In case more was needed the judge accepted the evidence form the mother about the risk posed by the father. Given that he could not be located I am not sure how that makes any sense but on the facts of the case the judge found in favour of the father not being notified of the adoption proceedings.
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