24 August 2015
B P Collins pursues urgent child arrangements solution
Family law senior associate Emma Baillie was recently instructed by a parent whose partner had unilaterally removed their child from home and school in the north of England, bringing them to the Home Counties to start a new life.
Neither parent had a child arrangements order in their favour stating that the child should live with them. Both had parental responsibility, the rights and responsibilities that mothers have automatically and fathers can obtain by:
- being married to the mother;
- being registered on the child’s birth certificate;
- entering into a formal agreement with the mother; or
- obtaining an order of the court.
As both parents had parental responsibility in this case, they were both entitled to be consulted in relation to issues of residence and schooling and no one parent should make decisions about such important things to the exclusion of the other.
The client contacted us immediately, alerting that the move had been made and we were able to make an urgent application to the court to have the child returned to his home. We were able to persuade the court of the potential harm that could be caused to the child by a sudden, unplanned move from a stable home and school life, not least because of the distress caused by the distance between the child and the left behind parent.
With the new school year about to commence, time was of the essence. In a very unusual step, the court ordered a full hearing of where the child should live and start the new school term, to take place within just two weeks.
Fortunately through the family team’s vast professional contacts, a necessary medical report was obtained in the time available and specialist counsel retained. Emma and trainee solicitor Katherine Yu subsequently worked tirelessly to produce the many court documents and conduct the many enquiries required to present the case at its best. The application to court was successful and the child was returned to the client and to his familiar surroundings in time for the start of term.
Commenting on this delicate case, Emma said: "We almost always advise our clients to consider more conciliatory methods of dispute resolution, such as mediation or solicitor negotiation, rather than applying to court immediately.
"However, our client did exactly the right thing, consulting us as soon as the problem arose so that we could take swift and decisive action on their behalf. We were very pleased to be able to assist as we did.”