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RE R (A CHILD)

A judge deciding whether to grant a residence order had erred in rejecting the recommendation of a CAFCASS officer without hearing evidence from her.

2 June 2009

The appellant mother (M) appealed against a decision granting a residence order in respect of her son (L) to the respondent father (F). M and F had separated when L was two years old, and L lived with M after the separation. When L was nine years old, M suffered exhaustion which resulted in the parents agreeing that he would stay with F for the foreseeable future, and that he would move to a school closer to F's house. Shortly afterwards F sought the residence order. By the time of the hearing L had lived with F for some seven months. A CAFCASS officer had considered the case and in her report recommended that L should live with M, stating that L had indicated a preference for returning to M. L had said that he wanted to be with M when she gave birth to the baby she was expecting shortly after the hearing, and the CAFCASS officer inferred that he had a subconscious need to reassure himself of his position in that family unit. The judge heard from the parents, but not from the CAFCAS...

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