Blood Is Thicker Than Water, But Child Welfare is Paramount

Blood is thicker than water, but the welfare of children is paramount and the law does not assume that youngsters are better off living with their natural parents. The Court of Appeal made this point when considering the future of a five-year-old girl whose mother died from breast cancer.

It was the mother’s dying wish that her daughter should live not with her father, from whom she had acrimoniously separated, but with a married couple who had offered her and her daughter a home during her illness. A close bond had grown between the girl and the couple, who had become her primary carers.

The father had lost contact with his daughter for two years after separating from her mother. However, a family judge nevertheless ruled that, following her mother’s death, the girl should live with him and his new partner.

In upholding the couple’s challenge to that ruling, the Court found that the judge had focused too much on the girl’s blood tie to her father and had wrongly conducted his analysis of her best interests on the basis that there was a presumption in law in favour of the natural parent. The issue of where the girl should live in the future was sent back for reconsideration by another family judge.