Family Court

Dad gives up eight-year battle for kids he ‘clearly loved’ after being alienated by mum

Brig, Soren and Reidar- Another heart-breaking story. You have been failed too by the system.


‘This has been a long, heartbreaking and expensive set of events for you to endure. I am truly sorry’

Judge Stephen Wildblood, Bristol’s top family court judge (Image: BBC Inside Out West)

A dad has given up trying to see his children after their mum “demonised” him for years, a judge has said.

Judge Stephen Wildblood QC, Bristol’s leading family court judge, described the father’s eight-year legal battle for his children as “heartbreaking and expensive”.

The judge said the children would suffer “significant and long-term emotional harm”, adding “the cause of that harm lies squarely with this mother”.

Judge Wildblood found the “intelligent” dad “plainly loves his children”, but deemed their mum to have alienated them from him without justification, in a September ruling.

The family cannot be identified for legal reasons, and we cannot reveal the number of children involved or their ages, but Judge Wildblood says the public should be made aware of the case.

He described it as “an example of how badly wrong things can go and how complex cases are where one parent – here the mother – alienates children from the other parent”.

The dad initiated a private law application for rights to see his children in 2011, but has now given up the battle because they “will have nothing to do with their father”.

The legal fight involved 36 court hearings, including one in 2014 when an order was made barring the dad from direct contact with the children.

Judge Wildblood believes there were failures in the handling of the case before he became involved.

Judge Stephen Wildblood QC is hosting a night of law and debate at St Brendan's College tomorrow
Judge Stephen Wildblood QC

He said: “At no point prior to my involvement in 2017 was there a full hearing on evidence to determine what was going on in this family.”

The judge added: “No professional has suggested that there is anything about this father that renders him unsuited to have contact with his children.

“There have been consistent recommendations throughout the eight-year history of these proceedings from a wide spectrum of professionals that contact should take place between the father and the children.

“All professionals involved in this case have concluded that the mother has alienated the children from the father.”

Judge Wildblood pointed to the children refusing to acknowledge their dad’s messages and having “false memories” of his behaviour towards them.

“The father’s letters, cards and presents were being sent by him into a home environment where he was demonised,” he added.

‘I am truly sorry’

The judge ruled two years ago the children should live with their father for seven weeks, without seeing their mum.

“In my opinion, the handover went badly wrong,” he said. “The children were extremely distressed and resistant to the attempts to place them with the father.”

The children ran away several times, refused to eat and showed “extreme distress”.

They returned to live with their mum less than a month after the ruling hearing and have not seen their father since.

The judge argued the mother was responsible for the children’s hostility, adding: “Whatever may be her difficulties, she is an adult and a parent with parental responsibility for her children.

“That parental responsibility, which she shares with the father, requires her to act in the best interests of her children.

“It also required her to promote the relationship between these children and their father. She has failed to do so.”

Judge Wildblood told the man: “This has been a long, heartbreaking and expensive set of events for you to endure. I am truly sorry.”