The Court of Appeal has granted a father permission to appeal an order reducing contact with his children.
Re SK concerned a couple with three children, aged seven, 11 and 14. They split up and the mother moved away with the youngsters. The father unsuccessfully applied for residence but was granted overnight visits every other weekend.
Later on, the father reapplied for residence and a Cafcass officer was assigned to the case. The couple’s two older children told the officer that they wished to live with their father but the officer was concerned that they did not fully understand the consequences of this and thought they may have been put under pressure, so they recommended that the children stay with their mother.
The judge responded to the Cafcass officer’s worries, saying the children’s best interests lay in continuing to live with their mother, also reducing the father’s overnight visits to just one weekend per month. The father was unhappy and applied for permission to appeal.
At the Court of Appeal, Lady Justice Black said she could not interfere with the original judge’s decision regarding the children’s place residence. That judge had been perfectly entitled to take on board the Cafcass officer’s concerns.
However, neither the mother or father had asked for the father’s contact with his children to be reduced. The court needed to ensure that all evidence was available, including the views of the children. The father was granted permission to appeal on the issue of contact.