In Re B (A Child) [2009] UKSC 5

This appeal concerned a three year old boy whose parents had separated before his birth. He had lived throughout his life with his maternal grandmother. The boy’s father sought an order that the child live with him and his new wife. Justices in the Family Proceedings Court had taken a decision not to disrupt the continuity of care which the boy had received and ruled that he should remain with his grandmother. This decision was overturned in the High Court and Court of Appeal, relying on the words of Lord Nicholls in Re G (Children) (Residence: Same Sex Partner) [2006] 1 WLR 2305 that ordinarily the rearing of a child by his biological parent could be expected to be in his best interests. The Supreme Court restored the decision in the grandmother’s favour, holding that Re G had been misinterpreted. The paramount consideration in the determination of a child’s residence was his welfare. Lord Nicholls’ words merely reflected the common experience that in general children tend to thrive when brought up by the parents to whom they had been born. Discussion of a child’s right to be brought up by his natural parents was misplaced and detracted from the only consideration for the Court, namely his welfare.