The recent case of the runaway mother Rebecca Minnock, sparked a media storm when she vanished with her son at the height of a bitter custody battle. Whilst she has escaped the prospect of a prison sentence, the case itself brings to question the actions of disappearing parents when the prospect of losing contact with their child becomes a reality.
This story stems from the transfer of residence that appears to have been ordered following lengthy court proceedings involving the father’s application for contact with his son.
Last week a high court judge told Minnock, that she was “manipulative, attention-seeking and truculent” and that keeping three-year-old Ethan from her estranged partner for the 17 days she spent on the run had made victimsTaking things into your of both the boy and his father.
It was through the request of the boy’s father that charges against Minnock have been discontinued after she expressed fears about the emotional damage sending her to prison for any breach would cause the child.
Like many, I have paid particular attention as the story unfolded. I began to question whether if the boot was on the other foot and it was the father who had abducted the child, would these wrongful actions be roundly condemned with little room for sympathy or presentation as a victim and would the mother be so quick to drop the charges?
The surprising element of this case was the mother’s persistent contact with the press whilst she was on the run with her son. Indeed even Judge Stephen Wildblood QC accused her of manipulating the media to further her own case.
Rather than pursue her grievances through the courts, Minnock proceeded in generating a media frenzy that placed all concerned under the public spotlight. Was this through her fear of losing residency of her child or were these actions her own ‘self-focus’?
Of course we are not privy to all the facts of this case. There is however ultimately no mileage in defying a court order and trying to disappear. The bottom line is that if the parent with care ignores court orders and remains completely obstructive to contact taking place then the court will impose sanctions and taking things into your own hands can have damaging consequences.