CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) have published a report into the number of private law children cases which are being returned to court, having already been through the court process at least once. They have found that of the 40,599 applications made in 2016/2017 30% were returning cases. Of these, 63% were applications being made within 2 years of the previous case being closed.
CAFCASS have categorised the main triggers behind the return to court into four headings:-
- Conflicted adults
- Safeguarding concerns raised by the parties
- A change in life circumstances
- The child’s wishes and feelings
The courts general approach in relation to court orders in private law children matters is set out in section 1(5) of the Children Act 1989 which states “Where a court is considering whether or not to make one or more orders under this Act with respect to a child, it shall not make the order or any of the orders unless it considers that doing so would be better for the child than making no order at all”. This is known as the ‘no order’ principle.
Whilst parents agreeing contact arrangements between themselves allows for greater flexibility for the parties to adapt to the changing wishes and needs of the children, it is not always possible to resolve matters without the assistance of the court. Unforeseen events may mean that orders previously made are no longer suitable.
Here at SA Law we work with you to see whether matters can be resolved through negotiation. In those cases where this is not possible, we will guide you through the court process to try and find the best solution for you and your family.