Home / The Rix & Kay Blog / Reported case of note – Judge takes unusual step of writing to children
Rebecca Jones

Partner - West Kent (Hadlow)

14th February 2023

Family Department – Reported case  of note (2022)

Children – Internal Relocation (Re Boy A and another; D v D).

Craig Yeung-Williams of Rix & Kay’s family team recently acted for the father in a case that has attracted significant attention due to the Judge taking the unusual step of writing to the children.

Why was the case reported?

The case took place in the lower tier of the family Courts, and has been officially reported as a case of note. Whilst most family cases in the lower tier of the courts will not have the Judge’s decision and reasons behind that decision reported, those that provide or emphasise important legal principles often do. This particular case has been picked up by the national media and reported in various newspapers as well as being discussed on the radio. The media attention has come about due to the letter that the Judge addressed to the two children in the case explaining the basis for his decision in clear and child-appropriate language.

What was the case about?

Craig Yeung-Williams acted for the father in this case, which involved an application made by the mother to relocate with the children. The children were living in London at the time, and spent, more or less, equal time with each parent. The mother was seeking permission to relocate to Somerset with the children, which the father opposed. The father argued that the mother should not be allowed to take the children to Somerset, as that would result in the children only being able to spend time with him every other weekend and for part of the school holidays. It was strenuously argued on behalf of the father that this would have a negative impact on his relationship with the children, and would cause significant disruption to the children’s lives.

A report was prepared by CAFCASS which provided an analysis of the situation, and a recommendation as to what outcome would be most suitable. The report acknowledged that the decision that the Court had to make was a difficult one, but ultimately recommended that the mother should be permitted to relocate with the two children. As the father opposed the relocation, the matter proceeded to a contested final hearing.

What was the outcome?

The Judge ultimately sided with the submissions put forward on behalf of the father that the Cafcass report was flawed and that it was in the children’s best interests not to move to Somerset. Accordingly, the Judge ordered that the children should remain living in London and that the shared care arrangement should continue.

What was unusual about this reported case of note?

The Judge decided to take the step of writing a letter addressed to the two children in order to explain the decision he had made. This was intended to ensure that the children felt that their wishes had been heard, knew that the decision had been made by the Judge rather than either of their parents, and understood the reasoning behind the decision. The decision to write to the children and the tone of the letter has been widely praised given that it is often reported that children feel disconnected from such proceedings and feel that their wishes and feelings go unheard.

This judgement re-emphasised the fact that, irrespective of factors such as the stated wishes of the parties and the children or the recommendations of CAFCASS, the only test that the Court applies in cases of proposed relocation is the welfare of the child. Essentially the Court has to balance all of the relevant factors in order to determine what is in the child or children’s best interests. There is therefore wide degree of judicial discretion with each particular case being assessed based on its own facts and merits.

Anyone involved in a family dispute regarding their children’s living arrangements and any proposed relocation would be advised to consult with a family solicitor at an early stage in order to discuss the position and the options available in terms of trying to resolve matters.

A copy of the full judgement in this reported case of note, along with the letter from the judge, can be found at: https://www.bailii.org

The father was represented at the final hearing in the proceedings by barrister Miss Laura Bayley of 1 Crown Office Row on the instructions of Rix & Kay Solicitors.

We are here to help

We understand that it is often at a difficult time in a person’s life when they need a family solicitor. If you would like further information regarding family matters including divorce, financial matters, cohabitation disputes, children matters and injunction proceedings  or if you require general advice and assistance, please contact Rebecca Jones, Family Law Partner in Rix & Kay’s Family & Divorce team, via e. rebeccajones@rixandkay.co.uk or t. 01732 440856.