Successfully applying for a Child Arrangements Order

Sanders Witherspoon have successfully acted for the father on an application for a Child Arrangements Order. At that time, the child was living with her mother and spending time with her father. The father instructed us as he was seeking to alter this so that his daughter came to live with him permanently. A Section 7 CAFCASS Report had been directed by the Court in which recommendations were made that the child’s living arrangements should indeed be altered to enable her to live with her father and instead spend time with her mother. The CAFCASS officer had used assessment tools relating to parenting styles of both parents and these revealed a huge variation in insight.

The indicators by the CAFCASS officer showed that:-

  • The relationship between mother and daughter was likely to become more turbulent due to the parenting style adopted by the mother.
  • It appeared to be a relationship more akin to siblings than mother and daughter. It was felt that the mother needed to get the right support and help which would benefit her being able to care for her child in the future and to put in place the appropriate parenting strategies.
  • The father was best equipped to provide the care and boundaries needed which were in the child’s best interests.
  • The mother’s home conditions were also a factor in the decision in the recommendations and the decision made by the Court to change the child’s living arrangements.

The Court took the view that our client, the father, had been consistent and credible in his evidence and had demonstrated his love for the child when advancing his proposals to support his application. The mother on the other hand, appeared to be inconsistent in evidence, at times seeking to minimise her levels of chastisement. However, she seemed willing to access parenting support, albeit belatedly.

Evidence of the mother’s home conditions were factors that the court could not ignore. It was felt that the child should not be exposed to this for any length of time as it could prove harmful for her health. The property was untidy and unclean both of which can and should be rectified in order to provide the child with a safe home environment. In contrast, the father’s property was more child focused and clean and tidy.

The Court having considered all of the evidence decided that the father at this time was the best person to provide the child with the relevant care. A Child Arrangements Order was therefore made in favour of the father and defined arrangements put in place for the child to spend time with her mother.

The Court followed the Welfare Checklist contained in Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 very closely when making their decision – the status quo not always being preserved – and having the right representation was very important to ensure that crucial evidence was put before the Court to assist them in the decision making process.