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(Family Division, Michael Keehan QC, sitting as a deputy judge of the High Court, 26 April 2013)
Following the judgment of  EWHC 2274 (Fam) the judge carried out a welfare determination in respect of the 5-year-old child. The child currently spent the majority of his time living with his mother under a shared residence order. The father, supported by the children's guardian, now sought a sole residence order in his favour with contact provision to the mother.
If the shared residence order could be made to work that would be in the child's best interests. It would mean that he would remain living for the majority of his time with his mother, attend his current school, maintain his current friendships with friends at school whilst enjoying regular contact with his father and his paternal family and friends. Changing those arrangements and ordering sole residence to the father carried some risk: a risk that he did not understand why he did not live with his mother; a risk that he would not settle at the new school close to the father's home; a risk that he may not make new friends; a risk that he may be unsettled by the new arrangements.
The guardian's clear and strong recommendation was that the child was at an age and was of a character where he could change school and adapt without any medium to long-term harm.
The judge was in no doubt that the appropriate course was to discharge the shared residence order and make a sole residence order in the father's favour. He had no confidence that if the shared residence order remained in force, that the mother would not make some sort of allegation against the father in order to bring the matter back to court and the relationship between the father and child would once more be disrupted.
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