Mother loses custody of four-year-old son to 'hugely committed father'

A mother lost the custody of her four-year-old son today in spite of an emotional appeal by her to a judge to hold on to her boy.

Mother loses custody of four-year-old son to 'hugely committed father'

By Gordon Deegan

A mother lost the custody of her four-year-old son today in spite of an emotional appeal by her to a judge to hold on to her boy.

At a provincial family law court, a district court judge said that it was in the child’s best interests that he now reside with his “hugely committed father”.

The boy’s father wept in court as the judge awarded the man sole custody of the boy in the custody battle with his former partner.

In making the order for sole custody, the judge said that the boy’s mother had until recently abandoned her son to the father and her own mother.

In granting sole custody to the father, the judge overruled a recommendation of a social worker’s report which stated that the four-year-old boy and his younger half-brother are a unit and one that should not be disturbed. The two boys have been living with their mother.

TUSLA had placed the four-year-old on its ‘neglect’ register earlier this year and the judge said that during his four years, the boy had lived at 11 different addresses with his mother and his younger half-brother had lived at seven in the past year alone.

The woman is now "clean" after recently completing a treatment programme for her addiction to drink and drugs and made an emotional plea to the judge to retain custody of her boy.

She told the judge “The only thing I have is my kids and Judge I would ask you to leave them with me so that I get the help that I need and to trust the social workers who are putting me in the right direction.”

“If I didn’t have my kids, I would feel that my heart would be gone. I would feel I would have lost everything. I have lost enough now.

"I have lost friends and family because of my addiction. My kids are the last thing I have and I hope and pray that what I have done over the last three months that I will be able to keep them.”

The mother wept as she told the court that the way she is described in a report about her life prior to giving up alcohol and drugs “was a very troubled person”.

She said: “I am ashamed…It is like reading a story about a different girl. I fell into addiction. I turned to drink when something bad would happen and get into drugs.

"But I eventually asked for help and got treatment. I have started to come around and get my life in order, but I was living in hell because of a lot of stuff that happened to me.”

The woman said that her former partner “is the best in the world and he is a really good father but I feel I should stay the primary carer”.

She said: “I am willing to put my heart and soul into my programme and do everything that it takes to put myself right.”

In his ruling, the judge said that the mother “has taken huge steps with remarkable success in terms of dealing with her problems and I commend her for that and the success she has achieved”

However, he added: “The court is now asked to accept following a very short time of rehabilitation that all is in order and that there will be no difficulties in the times ahead."

He said: “I can’t come to that conclusion and I am not compelled by the social worker that the unit of two boys is a unit of the importance that she says it is.

The judge said that it is much too soon in the mother’s rehabilitation to disregard the father’s application for sole custody.

The judge said that the father will provide stability in the son’s life.

The judge described the father as “hugely committed” who missed only one access weekend in four years.

The judge said that it was also in the child’s best interests that access would be put in place that would ensure that his relations with his mother, grandmother and half-brother continue in a meaningful way.

The judge refused an application from a solicitor for the mother to put a stay on the order pending any appeal to the circuit court.

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