A judge has written a personal letter to a 14-year-old boy explaining why he has rejected his request to move with his father to Scandinavia.
Mr Justice Jackson said he felt the teenager had brought the case to the High Court “as a way of showing your dad how much you love him”.
He told the boy he was “doing well in life” and did not believe that the move abroad would work.
He said: “I am confident that it is the right order for you in the long run.”
Mr Justice Jackson, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, wrote the letter to the teenager which laid down his ruling after a hearing in July.
Sam, not his real name, had applied for permission to live with his father in a Scandinavian country, which his mother and step-father opposed.
The application was later taken over by his dad.
‘Duty by your dad’
In the letter, the judge told the boy he believed “that your feelings are that you love everyone in your family very much, just as they love you”.
However, he noted that Sam’s parents had “very different personalities” and the fact they found it hard to agree was “stressful for you”.
In the letter, the judge said he found Sam’s dad to be someone who was “troubled” and had a “lot of influence over you”.
“All fathers influence their sons, but your father goes a lot further than that. I’m quite clear that if he was happy with the present arrangements, you probably would be too. Because he isn’t, you aren’t.”
He questioned whether the idea for the proceedings came from Sam or his dad and said he believed the teenager had “brought the proceedings mainly as a way of showing your dad how much you love him”.
He told the teenager: “Also, I may be wrong, but when you gave your evidence I didn’t get the feeling that you actually see your future in Scandinavia at all.
“Instead, what I saw was you doing your duty by your dad while trying not to be too unfair to your mum. But you still felt you had to boost your dad wherever you could.
“That’s how subtle and not-so-subtle pressure works. So I respect your views, but I don’t take them at face value because I think they are significantly formed by your loyalty to your father.”
The judge said Sam’s dad had a “manipulative side” and has “in some ways lost sight of what was best” for his son.
He told the boy he had no confidence that a move to Scandinavia would work and hoped his dad would decide to stay in England “for your sake”.
‘Justice was done’
The judge said the evidence showed Sam was doing well in life in England and that he “should make the most of the many opportunities that life here has to offer you”.
He went on: “If, when you finish your A-levels, you want to move to Scandinavia, you will be 18 and an adult – it will be up to you.”
Mr Justice Jackson dismissed his dad’s application to take Sam to live in Scandinavia and for Sam to apply for citizenship there.
He ruled that Sam would have contact with his dad on alternate weekends and any arrangement after he moved to Scandinavia alone would have to be agreed between both parents.
In the letter, he added: “Whatever each of your parents might think about it, I hope they have the dignity not to impose their views on you, so that you can work things out for yourself.”
The judge finished by saying he and Sam’s dad had enjoyed finding out they loved the film My Cousin Vinny – but for different reasons.
“He mentioned it as an example of a miscarriage of justice, while I remember it for the best courtroom scenes in any film, and the fact that justice was done in the end.”
Source: “Judge writes personal letter to teen after High Court battle”, BBC News, 27 July 2017