If a child’s parents cannot reach an agreement as to who the child should live with then either parent can apply to the Court for a Residence Order.
If a party makes an application to the Court then a lengthy information gathering process will begin. The Court obviously needs to have as much information as possible before making such an important decision; reports will be prepared and statements will be given. At the final hearing the Court will make a decision about who the child should live with. This decision is then written down in a Residence Order.
The Court will appoint an officer from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) to meet with the child and each of the parents. The officer will speak to the child about their wishes and feelings before assessing the capability of each parent to meet the child’s physical and emotional needs. The officer will then provide a report and their recomendations to the Court to help the Judge make a decision. Any decision that the Court does make has to be on the basis of what is in the best interests of the child.