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When Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Having children is the greatest joy of our lives and they provide us with endless happiness and pride in their achievements. The ability to share these moments together as a family is precious. However, situations can arise when families face difficulties when relationships breakdown and where once decisions were being made for the children, parental conflicts can cloud decisions which in turn impacts on and affects the relationship and contact between the non-resident parent and the child. Although, it is the court’s preference that parents should be able to agree arrangements for the children, where this is not possible either parent can make an application to the court for an order. When this happens the court will base their decision upon what is in the best interests of the child.
To help a Judge decide what is in the child’s best interests, they must have regards to a list of factors which includes the child’s wishes and feelings in light of their age and understanding. However, what a child says they want is not always what a child should get. In a recent case RE H (children)  EWCA CIV 733 a mother made an application to the Court of Appeal for permission to Appeal against what she contended was a change of interim residence orders in respect of her 3 sons, A (aged 15 ½ ), B (aged 13 ½) and C (aged 11 ¾).
In this case the initial Judge making the order removing the children from the mother’s sole care found that the Mother was emotionally manipulating the boys against their Father, she had encouraged them to make false allegations against him and had been obstructive to contact. The Judge found that it would be “unsafe” for the children to remain with their mother pending further assessments so made a residence order for A to the paternal grandmother and an order placing the younger boys with their father.
In making the order the Judge had disagreed with the Social Worker and the Guardian who both had the opinion that the children should remain in the mother’s care on the basis of the children’s expressed wishes and feelings. However, the Judge felt that there was a real difference between what the children were actually saying and how they actually felt based upon evidence of things such as the children’s behaviour. The Judge found on the evidence that they enjoyed contact with their father and in light of her other findings the change of residence was justified.
The Court of Appeal found the Judge was acting properly in reaching the conclusion she did and refused permission to appeal.
At Breeze and Wyles Ltd we can assist you in this difficult time, whether you are the parent seeking contact or the parent with whom the child(ren) reside. We can be contacted on 01992 558411 or 01992 642333
Henal Gautam – (Associate) Qualified as a solicitor in 2004 and joined the Family Department at Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd in 2005. Specialising in family law specifically relating to children. Representing parents, family members and children in a wide variety of public law cases. In addition adoption and special guardianship and representing parents in s8 Children Act proceedings. Henal deals with most of her own advocacy, being instructed in a number of complex cases involving cruelty to children and serious allegations of harm, adoption within the UK and overseas.
A member of the Law Society Children’s Panel, Resolution and the Association of Lawyers for Children, Henal is also a Trustee of the Broxbourne East Hertfordshire Domestic Violence Forum and the Hertford Contact Centre.