Q: Sadly, following our enforced homeworking in the COVID19 lockdown, my wife and I decided we could no longer live together and so we separated after Christmas. As finances are restricted, I opted to lodge with my sister and her family for the time being. My sister has a boy and a girl, like we do, and is perfectly happy for my two to come and stay at weekends and bunk in with her two. My wife, however, is refusing to agree to this, despite our children wanting to come. If I apply to the court for a contact order, will the wishes of the children be taken into account?
A: If you apply to the Court for a Contact Order the children’s welfare will be of paramount importance. Before the Court makes any decision with regards to child arrangements, they must apply the criteria as set out in something called the ‘welfare checklist’. One part of the checklist is the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child. Whilst there is no age when a child’s views will be the only factor that is taken into account, the older and more mature a child is, the more his or her wishes will be considered, whilst also having regard to the other factors in the welfare checklist.
In the proceedings, a CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) officer may be appointed by the court to consider the children’s wishes and other matters, and to prepare a (section 7) welfare report for the court. This will show the children’s opinions that have been sought. CAFCASS will also have a duty to consider if either parent has influenced the children in their views. You should make an appointment with a family solicitor who will be able to talk through the process.
This question has been answered by Deon Hayward, a Trainee Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. In accordance with government guidelines, some of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.
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