A mother's dying wish that her five-year-old daughter should be brought up by friends rather than her dad has been granted by judges.
The 48-year-old mum, from Cornwall, died from breast cancer earlier this month, but her final wish was that her little girl would be brought up by a married couple who had looked after them in her last days.
And the Court of Appeal agreed - overturning a family court ruling that the five-year-old should be sent to live with her surviving natural parent.
The father split 'acrimoniously' with the mother in 2011 and 'lost contact' with the child, named T in court, for the next two years after moving five hours away to Suffolk with a new partner.
At one point a restraining order was placed against the father.
Lady Justice King, sitting with Lord Justice Laws, said: "It is hard to imagine how it must have been for this mother to have to face the knowledge that her death was inevitable and that she must leave her young child to be brought up by someone else.
"One can only deeply regret that she died with this appeal outstanding and without knowing who was to care for her daughter following her death.
Her friends successfully appealed against a ruling of Judge Nicholas Vincent in the Truro family court in January that the little girl should go to live with her father and his new partner in Suffolk.
The parents separated in March 2011 and the mother was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer six months later when T was 20 months old.
The father has had parental responsibility for T throughout her life and attempted a reconciliation with the mother, the Mail reports.
But that was 'short lived' and there was an 'acrimonious' separation with a restraining order against the father.
He left Cornwall after the relationship came to an end and did not see her again for two years until November last year. The father was in a new relationship with a partner and her two teenage children.
As the mother's condition worsened she stayed at the house of close family friends with her daughter.
She named her friends as guardians for T and said she wanted her daughter to remain with them 'believing her to be safe, secure and settled with them.'
The mother 'felt that T would be best placed to come to terms with the loss and grief that she would suffer after her death.'
But T's father made an application for his daughter to move in with him and made 'unsubstantiated and serious' allegations against the mother's friends.
Justice King said it was a 'difficult' case, but ruled that Judge Vincent had erred by presuming that T should in law go to live with her father.
She said: "This was wrong in law and as already indicated, upon that basis alone, the appeal must be allowed."
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