Children case study
John is 35 years old and separated from Emma aged 28 last. They have a daughter aged 4, Sophie.
Emma works part time as an accountant and has begun living with Simon, who seems to be unemployed and worries John as aggressive. Emma and John have a mutual friend Susan who has confided that Emma was hit by Simon last week and she has heard he has children he cannot see. John and Emma were not married and although they had shared care since separation, Emma has not been answering his messages and he has not seen Sophie for 5 days. Sophie is in good health but seemed distressed each time she visited since Simon moved in. He is concerned and wants to take her out of nursery.
At his first meeting with his solicitor the following issues are addressed:-
- What is the legal status of each parent. Parental responsibility?
- How the Children Act works without a court order.
- The welfare principle and relevant issues from the checklist considered by the court, particularly risk of harm.
- The procedure for a child arrangement application if not an emergency, including safeguarding checks and the rile of cafcass.
- Mediation requirements in non emergency cases. Alternatives such as collaborative law
- The needs of the child comes first.
- Risks of taking the law into his own hands
- Use of police regards place of safety or social services to report but negative impact if misjudged. Alternative of a letter considered
- Use and risk of prohibited steps order eg barring her partner from contact or client is misjudged
- Cost estimates and options like fixed fees
Following the meeting a child arrangements application was issued seeking abridgment of time for an early hearing. Within days the court had issued directions for checks on her partner and prohibited contact with him pending further hearing. As social services had been contacted the sw was to supply her assessment for the next hearing. In the meantime Emma sought advice and as a result her relationship ended with her partner. The care of each parent absent the domestic violence was good enough and they agreed a shared living arrangements order at the next court hearing.