Status Quo (the present, existing state of affairs) is an important factor in any case concerning a child because it takes into account the family situation at the time the case comes before the court.
For example, the court is always reluctant to remove a child from its present home unless there is a strong reason for doing so. It follows that the person looking after the child at the time of a dispute is at an advantage. The longer that situation continues the greater the advantage.
When faced with a case concerning a child, the existing circumstances are an important factor for the court to take into account. It is essential to continue to spend time with your children during the separation process; if not, you may be creating a new “status quo” that could have an effect on your wish for the child to live with you (i.e. by way of a Residence Order) or for the child to spend his/her time equally with you and the other parent (by way of a Shared Parenting). The courts place great weight on the current status quo.
When making decisions concerning a child’s future the court uses ‘The Welfare Checklist‘. This sets out various mattes that the courts much take into account when making such decisions. One of those factors refers to the effect of a change in circumstances on the child. When faced with two parents of equal merit, one of whom has been caring for the child for a considerable time already, particularly if the child is thriving, the court will almost inevitably grant a Residence Order to that parent.
All other factors being equal, courts are unlikely to disrupt a child’s schooling and are likely to maintain an existing ‘status quo’ if a child appears to be thriving. If a change in status quo would disrupt the child’s routines, activities, or other events, the courts are going to need clear reasons and cause for change.
Moving Out of the Family Home
It is important to stop and consider what effect your moving out of the marital home will have. In the same way as spending time with your children, by moving out you may effectively be creating a new status quo and again you may struggle to obtain a Residence order or shared Residence Order based upon the status quo established when you moved out.
Changing an Existing Status Quo
If you are proposing to change an existing status quo, the court will want to hear convincing reasons for doing so. You should think about, and provide, details of how you will minimize the disruption to your child’s life.