A mother who had been ordered to send her daughter to live with the child’s father has won her appeal.
In Re B, the five year old’s parents had separated and her mother had had two further children with a new partner. The new partner had a history of domestic violence and the local authority believed he posed a risk to the children. When the child’s father learned of the father learned of these concerns, he applied for the child to live with him.
The authority carried a risk assessment and concluded the mother would not be able to meet the child’s needs while the new partner lived in the house, and recommended that the girl go to live with her father.
However, when the mother the announced that she was separating from her new partner, the authority agreed to a shared residence order, with the child remaining with her mother the majority of the time. They insisted, however, that residence would be given to the father if the mother’s partner had any contact with the child. The mother was unhappy with this arrangement and applied for sole residence instead.
Shortly before a new hearing, the father claimed he had received a report from a private investigator that the man was still living in the house and said the child had confirmed this.
The mother and her partner denied the claim and they and her family offered evidence in support of this. However a judge still ruled that the partner was living in the house and the girl should therefore move to her father’s home. He refused the mother additional time to present more evidence. She appealed.
The Court of Appeal ruled in the mother’s favour. Lord Justices Moore-Bick and Aikens and Lady Justice Black said the judge’s decision had prevented the submission of evidence needed to make a reliable finding of fact.