(Court of Appeal, Thorpe, Lloyd, Black LJJ, 7 November 2012)
The two women had two children together via IVF. When the relationship broke down the children remained with one of them and had contact with the other. The relationship was turbulent, contact was not always facilitated and the children were reluctant to engage with contact.
The children's guardian recommended the shared residence order be replaced by a sole residence order, thereby removing parental responsibility from the non-resident parent, and that no specific order for contact should be made. The judge accepted those recommendations and ordered accordingly.
The non-resident parent appealed. The sole residence order would be set aside for procedural unfairness in circumstances where no application for variation had been made, the suggestion was only made 3 days before trial and as an unrepresented litigant the non-resident parent's need for advice and protection was not considered. The order had been premature and further consideration should have been given to the re-introduction of therapeutic intervention. The case was remitted for retrial.