Resolving A Child Arrangements Dispute At The First Court Hearing
Kevin represented the mother of a young child in a case where the father had applied for a defined ‘spend time with’ order (formerly known as a contact order). The mother was nervous about speaking in court and was worried about legal expenses should the case be adjourned for further hearings. The mother was not opposed to the child spending time with his father, but she did not want any involvement with the father because of domestic abuse which sometimes took place at handovers.
At the first court hearing Kevin put forward reasonable contact proposals on behalf of the mother, which the father agreed. Handover arrangements were proposed which used a third party and thereby avoided the parents coming into contact with each other.
The court was obliged to consider whether it would be necessary to adjourn to a contested hearing, to determine whether there had indeed been domestic abuse. The court concluded that because the father presented no direct risk to the child and because the proposed handover arrangements meant that the parents would not come into contact with each other, the court could make a final order without needing to adjourn the case for a contested hearing on the issue of domestic abuse.