A mother and her three year old son have gone missing following a court hearing two weeks ago.
Rebecca Minnock from Somerset, fled her home with son Ethan, after learning that the family court would order that Ethan should live with his father.
Rebecca and Ethan’s father, Roger Williams, have been involved in protracted court proceedings for over two years. There have been disputes as to how much time Ethan should spend with each parent and ultimately, who he should live with.
Within proceedings, the mother had made a number of allegations against the father. However, these were unfounded. There were counter allegations from the father that the mother had obstructed contact between him and Ethan.
In the course of the proceedings, the court ordered that a child psychiatrist conduct a report on Ethan, to assist the court in their final decision. Dr Mark Berelowitz found that Ethan had a “warm relationship” with both parents. However, on balance, he recommended that Ethan should live with his father and have supervised contact with his mother.
Ethan has always lived with his mother since he was born in January 2012. The mother’s family have reported that she was “devastated” as to the ruling and has suffered a “serious injustice”. The mother has apparently reported to her family that she is safe and well but is yet to disclose her whereabouts.
Judge Stephen Wildblood QC took an exceptional step earlier this week, allowing the full facts of the case to be reported to help find Ethan and to reunite him with his father. “Any assistance by the press in finding out where he is will be gratefully received”, the Judge said.
The mother’s brother, sister and mother all appeared before Judge Wildblood, who warned them that they would face charges of contempt of court and perjury if they did not reveal what they knew about Ethan’s whereabouts.
Since her disappearance, the mother has engaged in a telephone interview with the Sun newspaper. She said that she had felt “trapped” after the court ruling and that she had “lost all trust and faith in the system completely”.
Nichola Morris, solicitor at Myerson LLP said “the mother should not have absconded the night before the hearing. If she did object to the final order, she may have had grounds for appeal or at least a re-visit of the case as time progressed. Now that she has absconded, if she is found, she may find it very difficult to secure anything other than supervised contact for the foreseeable future”.
If you would like advice on the legal issues surrounding child contact and/or residence, please contact one of our solicitors on 0161 941 4000.