A father from Poland has been awarded compensation after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Poland had breached Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.

The case concerned the contact rights of the applicant, Jaroslaw Malec, to his daughter.

Mr Malec separated from his wife in 2008, when their daughter was four years old, and they divorced in January 2012. They initially agreed on access arrangements but problems arose from November 2010 when the first interim contact order was issued during the divorce proceedings.

From then on, Mr Malec’s contact with his daughter became irregular and conflict between the parents escalated. Subsequently, between May 2011 and January 2012 almost no contact took place. After that, contact took place irregularly, usually on weekdays and without any overnight stays.

Starting in December 2010, Mr Malec filed over 50 enforcement claims, complaining about his ex-wife’s refusal to comply with contact orders. They eventually resulted in the mother being ordered to comply with the access arrangements and her being imposed with fines on two occasions.

In the meantime, in 2012 Mr Malec’s ex-wife had applied for a change to the access arrangements as specified in the divorce judgment, submitting that her daughter did not wish to stay overnight at her father’s house.

In the ensuing proceedings, an expert report was drawn up which concluded that both parents loved their daughter and were able to attend to her needs, but that the child was not able to cope with the conflict between her parents and that therefore family therapy was indispensable.

Most recently, in April 2013 a new contact order was issued, according to which Mr Malec could meet his daughter on certain days between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Relying in particular on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Mr Malec alleged that the Polish authorities had failed to take effective steps to enforce his right to have contact with his daughter.

The Court found in his favour and awarded €7,000 in non-pecuniary damage and €5,000 in costs and expenses.

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