Resolving a conflict over a child arrangements order

 

Kevin represented the mother of two children. The parents had separated, and the father, who had not seen the children for some years, applied for a child arrangements order.

The mother was opposed to any face-to-face contact, since both she and the children alleged that there had been domestic violence against her, and excessive chastisement of the children, by the father. The father admitted some but not all of the allegations.

Kevin’s approach to the case was to accept the father’s admissions and then obtain the consent of the court for there to be a risk assessment of him by an independent expert, and a welfare report by a CAFCASS officer. Whilst the expert report concluded that the father did not present an ongoing risk to the children, the welfare report found that they were in genuine fear of him, and did not want to see him.

As a result of Kevin’s pragmatic approach, on the strength of this evidence the parties were able to settle the case without the need for a contested hearing: The welfare report recommended contact by way of cards and letters only, which was agreed by both parties.