The media were in frenzy recently over the case of Rebecca Minnock and her son Ethan. Rebecca went on the run with Ethan for several weeks in the midst of a court case regarding where Ethan should live.
Ethan’s parents were engaged in Court proceedings for over two years, despite Ethan only being three years old. Contact was ordered to take place however Miss Minnock made various allegations against Ethanâ€™s dad throughout the proceedings. The Court found that these allegations were made up by Ethanâ€™s mum in order to frustrate contact between him and his dad. Ethan was then assessed by a psychiatrist who said that it was clear that Ethan had been questioned extensively by his mother about his father. The psychiatrist recommended that Ethan should live with his dad and have supervised contact with his mum. This was supported by the social worker involved in the case. Miss Minnock fled with Ethan ahead of the further Court hearing at which she knew the Court would order that Ethan goes to live with his dad.
Her family were dragged into matters as they were said to have assisted her in going into hiding and knew where she was. They were ordered to disclose Ethan’s whereabouts and were threatened with proceedings for contempt of Court if they failed to do so.
After extensive media coverage Miss Minnock handed herself in after 17 days on the run with Ethan. She then faced proceedings brought by Ethan’s dad for her committal to prison in light of her flagrant disregard for the Court order. Miss Minnock was branded â€œutterly irresponsibleâ€ by the Court for her actions and it is clear that her conduct will impact upon the future of the proceedings. Miss Minnock was spared prison by Ethan’s dad who said that he was not pursuing an application for Miss Minnock’s committal as he didn’t feel it was in Ethanâ€™s best interests. The Court has praised the father’s child focussed approach and made it clear that breaches of Court orders will not be tolerated. The Judge in this case said that it was possible she would’ve faced up to 28 days in prison had the application been pursued. It is a stark warning to any parent considering ignoring an order of the Court.
At Burd Ward we have extensive experience assisting parents and family members to obtain orders from the Court regulating when they spend time with a child. We are also able to deal with enforcement applications should a parent fail to comply with the Court order. If you are looking to get a Court order or are concerned that someone is breaching an order please contact Laura Prysor-Jones on 0151 639 8273.