We were instructed by the father of a 9 year old girl. She had been living with him for a number of years and up to this point contact with her mother had worked very well. It was taking place regularly and often. However, the parents had now fallen out over a possible change of school and her mum had also decided that she wanted her daughter to come and live with her again. This would have meant taking the child away from the home she had had for a number of years and also from various step siblings with whom she had a very good relationship.
As in every Family case, the Courts need to consider mediation and we therefore put forward this as a proposal. Mother however was not prepared to mediate and we therefore advised our client that the only option was to make an application to Court. Knowing that litigation was going to occur we immediately started to prepare our client and our case. We drafted an extensive chronology which emphasised how long the current arrangements had been in place – a very important factor in the Court’s mind. We knew that statements would be required from our client so we started to work with the client to prepare this and to identify possible witnesses. Statements were taken from them as well. As a result our client’s statement was comprehensive and because we had worked together in producing it the client was very comfortable with the evidence he would have to give at Court.
In respect of the schools, we researched with our client the various statistics and league tables of the various options. We were prepared, with evidence, to back the choice of school. Finally, we emphasised to our client how important it was to work with CAFCASS whom the Court had appointed to prepare a report on the case. As a result, CAFCASS favoured our client’s desired result.
Our view was that our client’s case was very strong and likely to succeed. On the first day of the Final Hearing the mother was advised to back down and her case collapsed. As a result, from a position of strength we were able to secure an order for the daughter to continue to live with her father and to go to the school that both she and her father wanted her to go to.
"Stephen has been excellent throughout this experience and I think he is an incredible family law solicitor and a true ambassador for the profession."