A Child Arrangements Order is where the child either lives with, or spends time with, the parties in the order. A child should be able to have a relationship with both of their parents. Increasingly the role of the father is recognised, as is the concept of parental alienation – where one parent tries to remove the other from the life of the child.
The process usually tries to achieve agreement by encouraging mediation first, before making an application to the court process.
You need to consider the Welfare Checklist when looking at the possible arrangements and proposed changes:
A mother removed her daughter from living with her father (my client), claiming there had been domestic violence. However, there was no evidence of this. Initially, the child was not allowed to see her father but, after three weeks, there was supervised contact. This confirmed that she wanted to see her father and that the quality of contact was excellent.
I brought in an independent social worker to help the girl transition to living with one parent.
I then arranged an urgent application to court. Once the court clearly saw that the allegations against the father were untrue, it ordered that the child should live with her father and have supervised contact with her mother.
Although the relationship with her father was initially interrupted, the strong bond she had with him was soon re-established and became even stronger. The final outcome was that the child had limited contact with the mother.
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