(Family Division, MacDonald J, 19 May 2017)
Private law children – Child arrangements order – 14-year-old suffering from anorexia and depression – Whether she should live with the mother or father
The 14-year-old girl suffered from anorexia and a severe depressive illness. She was detained for treatment under s 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983. Her father applied for a child arrangements order providing for the girl to live with him and spend time with the mother once the girl was discharged from hospital. A consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist reported that an order was needed to provide the girl with the level of certainty she needed to overcome her illness and that the mother was not capable of meeting her needs. The application was supported by the guardian but the girl clearly expressed her wish to live with the mother.
The application was allowed. It was in the girl’s best interests to make the order.The girl’s wish to live with her mother had to be balanced against the fact that she felt a significant amount of responsibility for the mother’s health and well-being. Although in the short term an order that did not accord with her wishes might have a detrimental impact on her, she needed to have the burden of feeling responsible for her mother removed.