Family Law – Child Arrangement Order
Whilst training to become a solicitor we are required to gain practical experience in at least three distinct areas of law; choosing to undertake my training at Aston Knight Solicitors means I have gained invaluable ‘hands on’ know-how across a range of areas, including family law.
In addition to my day to day case load, I am encouraged to consider opportunities to assist on matters on a voluntary or pro bono basis; time permitting and subject to the firm’s policy and criteria.
We recently assisted in a matter involving twin 11 year old boys following the tragic and sudden death of their mother.
The boy’s father had passed away a number of years prior; before her death the twins had lived with their mother and young brother from a subsequent relationship. Following their mothers death the boys younger brother went to live with his father, however the twins had no surviving parent. The brothers were thankfully given a home by their maternal aunt, Mrs A, who had four girls of her own, the youngest being a few months old.
Over the next few weeks the full extent of the brothers’ care needs, both emotional and financial, became clear and their aunt reported feeling understandably overwhelmed. Being of limited financial means, which were then stretched further by the addition of the brothers to the family home, their aunt was in need of advice, but was unable to afford help.
In circumstances where children are cared for by a member of their extended family on a permanent basis a court order is necessary; their aunt was keen to ‘make everything legal’ in order to create a sense of security and permanence for the twins. Upon the advice of the local authority Mrs A made an application for a Child Arrangement Order, acting as a litigant in person.
Replacing Contact Orders and Residence Orders, a Child Arrangement Order regulates arrangements relating to with whom and when a child is to live, spend time with or otherwise have contact with.
Following her application the matter was listed for a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA); although her application was supported by the local authority, Mrs A was encouraged to seek independent legal advice prior to the hearing.
Mrs A appreciated the much needed guidance throughout the process, particularly the advices on procedure. We carried out a review of the matter and advised on a report prepared by the local authority dealing with their involvement with the family. We liaised with a representative from the local authority to ensure the family had access to continued support, including significant financial assistance from social services.
In an effort to assist her further we attended the hearing reviewing and ensuring the accuracy of the content of a risk assessment prepared by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) pursuant to Section 16A of the Children Act 1989.
We assisted throughout the FHDRA were it was decided the children would live with their aunt and parental responsibility was granted, drafting an order to that effect.
Although the twins younger brother was not the subject of the application, the family were keen to ensure regular contact between the twins and their younger brother. As a result it was recorded as part of the Order that the same is to be positively promoted in the best interests of the children.
By Gemma Ashraf, Trainee Solicitor
Aston Knight Solicitors Bury are a specialist firm of solicitors that specialise in family law and serious injuries including medical negligence claims and work injury compensation. If you have any matter you would like to discuss further then please contact a member of our team on 0800 999 6661 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free and confidential discussion.