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In the recent case of Re H (2010) the court was asked to deal with exactly this issue.
The applicant was the half sibling of the two subject children. The applicant was an adult, and the two children were aged 10 and 9. The applicant and the two children shared a mother, but the two children lived with their father and his new partner and had not, at the time of the court proceedings, seen their mother for about 6 years and the applicant for about 4 years.
The applicant made an application for a Contact Order with the two younger half siblings.
The father objected to there being any contact on the basis that it would be upsetting for the children and that it would re-open negative memories about their maternal family. The judge refused the application for contact feeling that the potential harm to the children outweighed any benefit to them of knowing that they had a half sister and having contact.
The applicant half sibling appealed. On appeal, the judge ordered that the applicant be introduced to the children and to, initially, have indirect contact with them. The contact was to be supervised by CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service).
When considering matters involving children, the court must always be mindful of any potential harm to the children, and in this case, the court’s view was that indirect contact, supervised by CAFCASS, would ensure that appropriate safeguards would be in place so that the benefit to the children would outweigh any potential risk.
Given that many people now have second families, it is likely the court will have to deal with more applications made by full and half siblings. Based on the decision in Re H (2010) it is likely that the court will grant such contact as long as there are appropriate safeguards in place.
For further information and advice on this issue, and other family law issues, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01992 306 616 or 0207 956 2740 or email us.Back to Law Articles