The proceedings of family courts strictly occur behind closed doors and are thus shrouded in secrecy.
But one High Court judge has published a warm, moving letter he wrote to a teenage boy explaining just why he ruled against allowing him to move abroad with his father.
Referring to the child using the pseudonym “Sam”, Mr Justice Peter Jackson explained the teenager had instructed a solicitor to apply for the move, something his mother, whom he lives with, had opposed.
In his letter, the judge praised the 14-year-old for the way he gave evidence, telling him his views “carry a lot of weight with me.”
He added: “I believe that your feelings are that you love everyone in your family very much, just as they love you. The fact that your parents don’t agree is naturally very stressful for you, and indeed for them.”
But he points out that while Sam’s father is a man with some wonderful qualities, “I see someone who is troubled, not happy.”
“He has not achieved his goals in life – apart of course from having you. Because of his personality style, and the love you feel for him, he has a lot of influence over you. All fathers influence their sons, but your father goes a lot further than that. I’m quite clear that if he was happy with the present arrangements, you probably would be too. Because he isn’t, you aren’t.”
Justice Jackson gently pointed out that Sam’s father was showing signs of being manipulative and had perhaps lost sight of what was best for his son.
He also kindly reminded the teenager he is doing well in his school and social lives and that he may well struggle in a foreign country where he does not speak the language and where his father has made no schooling plans.
Addressing the boy at the close of his note, the judge states: “Sam, I realise that this order is not the one that you said you wanted me to make, but I am confident that it is the right order for you in the long run. Whatever each of your parents might think about it, I hope they have the dignity not to impose their views on you, so that you can work things out for yourself. I know that as you get older, you will do this increasingly and I hope that you will come to see why I have made these decisions.
“Lastly, I wanted to tell you that your dad and I enjoyed finding out that we both love the film My Cousin Vinny, even if it might be for different reasons. He mentioned it as an example of a miscarriage of justice, while I remember it for the best courtroom scenes in any film, and the fact that justice was done in the end.”