Family Law Hub

Child Arrangements

Latest updates

  • The marriage had broken down one year before and the parents were now living separately, both in Dubai. The court was concerned with the arrangements for two children, aged 6 and 3, in relation to the time they would spend between their parents' homes. Both parents accepted that court intervention was necessary because of their inability to agree a way forward. The children had shown increasing signs of distress. Roberts J found that the children had indeed suffered emotional harm through this period, and the older child's insecurities had not been properly addressed in the very early days of the breakdown of the parents' relationship. The father accepted that he had exposed the children to far too much of the parental conflict. However, his actions had not been sufficient to provide an evidential basis for the restrictions on his parental responsibility which the mother sought. Roberts J ordered a three-stage set of arrangements, which at first involved two overnight stays on alternate weeks, and then eventually four overnight stays per fortnight. Judgment, 26/05/2021, free
  • The parents had separated in 2015, and the girls were now aged 13 and 11. The father applied for variation of the shared-care child arrangements order, following local authority concerns as to the mother's alcohol use and mental health. The mother sought a return to the previous shared care arrangement, which had been suspended throughout the proceedings. HHJ Vincent noted that the children’s welfare was the paramount consideration. The mother did not recognise the concerns about her parenting, and to the extent she accepted that she had an issue with alcohol, she denied it would have impacted upon the children. It was evident that she was unable to regulate her emotions. Having regard to all the evidence he had heard and read, and considering all the factors on the welfare checklist at section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989, HHJ Vincent was satisfied that the girls’ welfare needs were met by a continuation of the current arrangements. He ordered that the children would live with their father, and that any direct contact should be supervised by a third party. Judgment, 26/05/2021, free
  • The father appealed concerning three aspects of a case management order made pursuant to Children Act 1989 proceedings. He wished to enforce/vary a child arrangements order, and contended that the judge had erred in refusing to order a fact-finding hearing to investigate his allegations of parental alienation, limiting the scope of the local authority's section 7 report, and refusing to appoint a Children's Guardian under FPR 16.4. The mother's position was that the father's application was part of a long-running campaign of meritless court applications aimed at undermining the current arrangements. Williams J allowed the appeal but only to a limited extent in respect of the remit of the section 7 report. The application would be remitted to the Central Family Court with a direction that an addendum section 7 report should be provided by Islington Children's Services regarding the son's expressed wishes in the light of the contact notes. In respect of all other grounds the appeal was refused. Williams J noted that the case illustrated the problems caused by the failure of parties and their advocates to focus on the real issues which the court had to grapple with at a time-limited FHDRA. Position statements which far exceeded the permitted length and did not clearly and succinctly identify the main issues to be determined were unhelpful. Judgment, 02/05/2021, free
  • An application concerning two children: a girl and a boy, aged 3 and 9. The mother and father had separated during 2016 and had since divorced. The mother and children had moved from London to the countryside for the lockdown, but the mother now wished to make that a permanent move. The question for the court was whether it was in the son's best interests to live with his father in London or with his mother and sister in the countryside. The Cafcass report had concluded that it would be better for the son to stay with his father. The single joint expert had not been asked to make a specific recommendation, but made it clear that she thought the partial separation from the mother had been damaging to the son's mental health. HHJ Lloyd-Jones was not impressed by the single joint expert as a witness. In his view, the mother's evidence suggested that she was seeking to mould the children's lives around her own plans, while the father's evidence indicated that he had "a clear grasp of what his son's best interests were". After considering the welfare checklist contained in s 1(3) of the Children Act 1989, and the issues involved in dividing the siblings, HHJ Lloyd-Jones decided that on weekdays the daughter would live with her mother and the son with the father, and they would spend the weekends together, alternating between the parents, half-terms with the mother, with other holidays split evenly between the parents. Judgment, 12/04/2021, free
  • A fact-finding exercise within an application for a child arrangements order with regard to the younger of two half-brothers. The only evidence had been from the parents. The mother had accused the father of grabbing her by the threat, punching her, and emotionally abusive and controlling behaviour. In HHJ Robin Tolson QC's view, "the individual allegations of domestic violence in the Schedule advanced by the mother against the father were insignificant in themselves", and unlikely to affect child arrangements. It was also, he said, "necessary to factor in the effects of a system which encourages allegations of domestic abuse", as well as the mother's mental health issues. On the morning of the trial, the mother had added an allegation of rape. HHJ Robin Tolson QC found that everything turned on the credibility of the witnesses, and none of the allegations were proven beyond limited admissions made by the father. Those admissions did mean, however, that the mother was "a victim of domestic abuse". He decided that a guardian should be appointed for the child, and a direction was made for the relevant local authority to undertake an investigation of both children to determine whether public law proceedings should be issued. By consent, he directed a psychiatric assessment of the mother. He also made an order for the child to spend time with his father, supervised by an independent social worker, once the international quarantine rules permitted it. Judgment, 12/04/2021, free

Latest know-how

Latest training

Latest sources

Copyright 

Copyright in the original legal material published on the Family Law Hub is vested in Mills & Reeve LLP (as per date of publication shown on screen) unless indicated otherwise.

Disclaimer

The Family Law Hub website relates to the legal position in England Wales and all of the material within it has been prepared with the aim of providing key information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While Mills & Reeve LLP aims to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. You therefore acknowledge and agree that Mills & Reeve LLP and its members and employees accept no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of our website except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

Bookmark this item