Father told love ‘is not enough’ in custody battle

A man has lost a fight for custody of his motherless child after a High Court judge concluded that love “is not enough”.

Mr Justice Keehan said the man “may” love his seven-year-old daughter and frequently said he loved her. But he said the child needed more, and her father did not understand her needs or have the ability to meet them.

The man, who is in his mid-30s, asked to be allowed to care for his daughter after her mother died suddenly. He wanted the little girl to live with him and his new partner in Manchester.

But the judge concluded the youngster should be adopted by a maternal aunt and uncle who live in the US — a plan put forward by social workers.

Detail of the case has emerged in a written ruling following hearings in the family division of the High Court in London and Birmingham.

Mr Justice Keehan said the man had a son with his new partner — born 10 months after the girl’s mother died.

The judge said the man was from Cameroon. He was deported in 2006 but in 2009 returned to the UK on a six-month family visa. He said he did not know if immigration officials would give the man indefinite leave to remain. He said the man lied to social workers about his personal circumstances.

“I do not doubt that in his own way he deeply loves [his daughter],” he said. “Most importantly, there is the extent to which this father can meet the emotional needs of this child. He may love her, as he did frequently say he loves her. Sadly, in life that is not enough.

“This child needs to have her emotional needs recognised and met. She needs to be the centre of attention so that her needs are not missed.

“I regret to find that the father does not begin to evince any understanding of what those needs are nor does he evince any ability to meet them.”

He said the man had given a “heartless” answer to one question. “When I heard him reply in answer to the fact that [the girl] has been through a lot in her short life, I thought it heartless on the part of the father to reply ‘me, too’.”

“It is a powerful and illuminating example of the approach of this father to this matter, which is to his needs and his rights and what he wants, and coming a very poor second is what this precious little girl needs.”


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