Ј1m battle to see my son

Jul 27 2004

By Sophie Blakemore, Birmingham Post


A West Midlands executive has described how his life has been devastated by a four-year custodial battle for his young son which has cost him more than Ј1 million.

Former head of one of the country's leading high-tech firms, the 42-year-old from Coventry said he had run up costs of Ј500,000, given up share options worth a further Ј500,000 and faced losing his Ј500,000-plus home after quitting his job because of the prolonged legal battle.

He has made more than two dozen court appearances to win increased access to his five year-old son - who cannot be identified - but has now been told by a High Court judge he can only see him one weekend every two months.

The father claimed his ex-wife, the boy's mother, had been served with contact orders nearly a dozen times and had been the subject of other legal orders but in the meantime he has had access to the boy cut.

"The last four years have been a waking and sleeping nightmare," he said.

"After what the High Court did to me, I was totally heart-broken and thought 'I have got to stop fighting now for the sake of my son and so I do not destroy myself'.

"I have not seen him for three months and then I got a late night phone call from him in which he cried for 15 minutes and asked 'Why are you not with me?'

"I had given up and was going to wait until he found me in ten years' time or so. But after that phone call, I have got to fight, I cannot let the child go through this."

The father began his court action in 2000 after his wife left him for one of his colleagues.

He claims he was denied access and parental rights and decided the only way to try to win joint responsibility for his son was to quit his job and concentrate on the legal battle.

After a year of court appearances he decided to give up his lawyers and represent himself. He has now run up debts of Ј100,000.

"I would do it all again tomorrow. I fought and fought but I never see my son on his birthdays or Christmas, or have any idea about his schooling.

"The animosity that emerges in a marriage break-up is intense and in his mother's mind I am sure she thinks she is doing the right thing for him.

"I am no longer a parent, the courts have decided that for me, but if I can help other children and fathers that is something."

In protest at the latest judgment, he left his son's toys on the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice in London last week.

"It was heartbreaking for me but it was my way of protesting," he said.

The man, who now has a job as managing director of a Midland company, has received support from the Fathers 4 Justice group.

Ray Barry, regional coordinator for the campaign group, said: "This is an example of what is really happening to honest, decent dads in their tens of thousands.

"The Government is trying to present a picture that there is nothing seriously wrong with family law but one in four children are not in contact with their natural fathers and this is increasing by 100 a day in the UK."

Must I lose everything to see my son?