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Mother wins appeal over where her son should live

A mother has won her appeal against a court order that her son should continue living with his father instead of returning to live with her.

The couple had separated when their son was two years old. The boy then lived with his mother until he was nine. She was then diagnosed as suffering from exhaustion and she agreed that her son should live with his father until she recovered.

The father applied for a residence order so his son could live with him permanently. The mother opposed this and was supported by a welfare officer. The court hearing took place seven months after the boy had started living with his father.

The officer said the boy had indicated that he would prefer to live with his mother. He was aware that his mother was pregnant and he wanted to be back with her at the time of the birth.

The officer felt this was a sub-conscious desire to reassure himself of his position within the family.

The judge heard from both parents but not the welfare officer or the boy. He decided that the boy was settled with the father and granted the residence order.

The Court of Appeal has now overturned that decision. It held that the judge was wrong to reject the welfare officer’s recommendation without hearing evidence from her. He had also been wrong in not giving sufficient weight to the fact that the boy wanted to return to his mother.

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