This case-study looks at some of the limitations of the Child Arrangements Order.
I was approached by a child and the lady who cared for him. This lady, the caring mother (CM) was in a relationship with the child’s father who died leaving a defective will. The child’s birth mother (BM) did not have a close relationship with the child and the child wished to stay in the care of the CM.
The problem arose because a Grant of Probate required signing by a person with parental responsibility. With the father deceased, the only person with parental responsibility was the BM. The BM refused to sign the papers as she did not agree with the child drawing down the funds on the estate. Unfortunately the BM did not understand that if the Grant did not take place, assets from the estate would be lost.
As the child was soon to turn 16 years-old, an emergency application for a Child Arrangements Order needed to be made in order to grant the CM parental responsibility.
The limitations were:
1) no Section 8 order can be made for a child 16 years-old or older; a Child Arrangements Order is a section 8 order;
2) a section 8 order ceases when a child turns 16 years-old; and
3) the only way the CM could obtain parental responsibility and therefore sign the Grant of Probate was for the courts to order Child Arrangements Order – “living with”. I had hoped to obtain the order on consent but the BM objected to the order, even though the child had elected to remain living with the CM after the father’s death.
Deadlines were very close as the BM was on holiday at the time of the 1st hearing. Thankfully the court was able to squeeze the 2nd hearing in just days before the child’s 16th birthday.
Orders were made granting the CM a Child Arrangements Order – “living with”, thus giving her parental responsibility. The orders were specifically made to last until the child’s 18th birthday, to ensure all papers could be dealt with, including any other support the child needed until becoming an adult. The Grant of Probate was successful. My client and the child were very happy.
Written by Gina Samuel-Richards, Solicitor Director