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Kids in legal tug of war over dad's funeral

The Daily Telegraph
1 October 2008

Kids in legal tug of war over dad's funeral
By Janet Fife-Yeomans

- Mum did not want kids to go to dad's funeral
- Insults fly as grandparents fight for them to attend
- Judge says the children's interests are paramount

Four young brothers and sisters have been placed at the centre of a Family Court row over whether they should attend their father's funeral.

While the 41-year-old teacher lay in his bed dying of an aggressive brain tumour, his estranged wife and parents were hurling insults at each other across a courtroom.

"There is no love lost here," Justice Paul Cronin said.

The children's paternal grandparents wanted them for 24 hours about the time of the funeral.

But their grandfather did little to help the situation with a stream of vitriol in court which included referring to their mother as "the so-called mother," the judge said.

Meanwhile, the mother, 36, a redundant marketing consultant, said her husband's family was aggressive, violent and repulsive and that she would "not willingly send the children".

Justice Cronin said the interests of the children, aged eight, six, five and three, were paramount.

The parents had an unhappy relationship, staying together for their childrens' sake.

The father was being cared for by his parents in their house, and there was evidence the children had developed a good relationship with their grandparents.

Justice Cronin said funerals were for the living, not the dead, and that the children would help ease their grandparents' pain.

"In my view, the children should be a part of that process because they represent the replacement of the joy and love lost in the death of their son," he said.

He ordered the mother to deliver the children to their grandmother at least 15 minutes before the funeral and said their mother must remain at a distance from them during the service and leave immediately afterwards.

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