Q: We have a Child Arrangement Order stating our daughter should spend Christmas Day with my ex-wife one year, and with me the next, and spend Boxing Day with the other parent. However, this year I would like to take her skiing, which would mean her spending the whole Christmas period with me, and me taking her out of the country. My ex-wife is currently refusing to allow it and my daughter is utterly distraught, so I think I need to apply to the Court for a variation. How long will it take?
A: You should start the ball rolling immediately, not least because a new pathfinder scheme is being piloted in Wales whereby following a Court application being submitted CAFCASS are immediately Ordered to prepare a report looking at the impact of any Order on the child. That report can take up to eight weeks and then a Court hearing is likely after that.
You should also note that all potential family court applications must include a statement from a mediator to confirm mediation has been discussed. This means it could be the New Year before your case is listed if you don’t start now, so you should make an early appointment with a family solicitor for a pre-mediation meeting (a MIAM), which can take several weeks.
Before the Court approves an application to change a Child Arrangements Order it will consider a list of potential effects on the child including: the child’s wishes and feelings bearing in mind their age and level of understanding; the likely effect on them of any change in their circumstances; their age, sex, background and any characteristics which the Court considers relevant; any harm they have suffered or are at risk of suffering; how capable of meeting the child’s needs each of the parents is, and any other person in relation to whom the Court considers the question to be relevant.
This question has been answered by Sean Rolinson, a 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. Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email.