RESIDENCE: Re H (Contact Order)

19 FEB 2010

(Court of Appeal; Arden and Leveson LJJ and Sir Scott Baker;19 February 2010)

A couple separated shortly after birth of their disabled child and thereafter the mother was the sole carer of the baby. The father applied for contact and at the interim hearing the judge made a shared residence order, involving several episodes of contact with the father prior to the final hearing. The mother appealed.

The appeal was allowed. The judge had failed to take account of a number of important factors under the checklist. He had assumed that the father, a GP, had good parenting skills and had failed to give proper weight to the fact that the mother was the primary carer and was still breast feeding. The judge should have been concentrating on making an order that was as neutral as possible and that did not prejudice either side at the full hearing. The father was given two hours contact at a contact centre every two weeks, and two overnight stays per fortnight.

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