RECENT CASE STUDIES
We represented a female client (Alice*) in relation to her on-going dispute with her ex-partner (Mark*) in relation to contact arrangements with their child (Mia*). At the time of instruction, the Mia was only 11 years old and was unfortunately placed in a position whereby she was in the middle of an erratic and difficult separation.
By way of a brief background, Mark was abusive towards Alice and would often attempt to blame her for the breakdown of the marriage.
Following the separation, Mia moved out with Alice and contact arrangements were agreed between the parties albeit it being sporadic. Mark sought to have contact sporadic and would not appreciate that it would be beneficial for all parties to have a regimented agreement in place so that the parties involved could plan their days/weeks.
The parties attempted to resolve the issues via mediation, however, this was unsuccessful as Alice thought Mark’s proposed arrangements were not in the best interests of Mia at the time. Alice’s overall argument was that Mia was not keen to have increased contact and by forcing her to attend, her behaviour at home and school was deteriorating.
Mark issued Children Act proceedings and sought to have contact arrangements formalised whilst making allegations that Alice was controlling and obstructing contact. Alice, on the other hand, argued that Mark’s proposed contact arrangements were not in the best interests of the child in light of the Coronavirus pandemic and the child did not enjoy the contact as Mark would not engage with the child. Alice also alleged that Mia would act erratically prior to contact with Mark which was a cause of concern.
Prior to the first hearing which is known as ‘DRA’ (Dispute Resolution Appointment), the Court had directed Cafcass to complete a safeguarding letter. Cafcass stands for ‘Children and Family Advisory and Support Service’ and their role is to represent children in family court cases in England independently whilst advising what is safe for the children involved and in their best interests.
Cafcass also pays close attention to the wishes and feelings of Mia if they are relevant. Following their investigations being completed, Cafcass advised the Court to direct a Section 7 report to be completed which would consider the concerns raised by both parents and make arrangements as to what is safe and, in Mia’s, best interests. It was also advised that both parties should make undertakings to the Court confirming that they will not expose Mia to any adult conversations relating to her care and contact.
“We, at Hepburn Delaney, appreciate that a breakdown of a relationship/marriage can be stressful. Through our Family Law services, we aim to ensure that we assist you in any way that we can to avoid the stress involved with litigation being exposed to the children.”
Our client, Alice, was struggling to cope financially with the on-going costs relating to litigation and was not sure whether she would be able to obtain fees to instruct counsel to represent her at the upcoming DRA. As a result, we wrote to Mark’s solicitors seeking for directions to be agreed prior to the DRA thus enabling the parties to vacate the upcoming hearing and save costs.
After consideration of both parties views and concerns, the parties agreed directions which included evidence to be filed by the relevant Local Authority, statements from both parties and for Cafcass to prepare a Section 7 report prior to the next hearing which, if all is complied with, would allow the Judge to make a final decision on this matter.
We then assisted our client in obtaining all of the relevant evidence required from the Local Authority and assisted her in filing the statement in response to Mark’s allegations. The statement included various pieces of evidence which were exhibited to her statement.
Due to the parties filing their evidence well before the Court had directed, the parties were then able to engage in negotiations as to what would be the ideal level of contact for Mark to have in light of Mia’s wish for reduced contact. The parties were then able to formalise their agreements at the next hearing which enabled our client to largely avoid the costs and stress associated with Court proceedings and to also receive an outcome that was pleased with.
We, at Hepburn Delaney, appreciate that a breakdown of a relationship/marriage can be stressful. Through our Family Law services, we aim to ensure that we assist you in any way that we can to avoid the stress involved with litigation being exposed to the children.
We, therefore, advised the client that it is important for the child to have contact with Mark but only at a suitable level which would guarantee that she would not be exposed to more adult-like conversations from Mark and therefore enjoy contact more.
Following the conclusion of the case, Alice was happy with the outcome and was appreciative of the advice and assistance that we provided her throughout the process.
* Disclaimer: The names used in the following case study have been changed to protect the confidentiality and anonymity of individuals involved in the case.
Send us a message
"*" indicates required fields