If there is a dispute over Residence of a child and it is left to the Courts to make a decision, they have to make considerations along the same lines as in Contact applications (as set out in Section 1 of the Children Act 1989), such as:
- The wishes and feelings of the child as far as can be determined (considered in the light of the child’s age and understanding).
There is no strict rule as to the age when a child’s wishes and feelings should be taken into account. The older the child, the more likely it is that the Court will take account of that they think.
- The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs.
For instance, if transferring residence meant uprooting a child from a school that they were settled at and enjoyed attending then this may not be considered in the child’s best interests.
- The likely effect on them of any change of Circumstances.
For instance, the Courts consider stability important for a child and therefore believe that changing a child’s circumstances should only be done as a last resort.
- “Any other person” who is likely to affect the child if residence is transferred is also taken into account.
For example, the applicant’s new partner. Their history therefore becomes relevant and if there is a negative history, such as a conviction for sex offences, violence or drug abuse this will undoubtedly affect the Application for residence and could mean that it will be rejected.
Above all the court has to consider the child’s welfare first and foremost over any of the other parties welfare or point of view (although these are taken into account also) and therefore any decision is made upon what is considered to be in the best interests of the child.