Our client is the father of a three-year old girl and two boys aged six and eight. He is living apart from the children’s mother. The parents have joint custody and guardianship of the children and both are actively involved in parenting. The children live primarily with their mother but also spend two or three nights each week with their father. They also spend regular holiday periods with their father and have stayed with him for longer periods while their mother was incapacitated by depression. The father is a tenant of the local authority and lives in a one-bedroom flat. The flat which has one double bed and one double sofa bed is unsuitable to accommodate the children.
Our client had applied to the council for transfer to a larger unit which would accommodate his children but his application was declined because the children did not live permanently with him. Mercy Law took instructions from the client and made submissions to the council, citing the rights of the children to have full access to both parents and the unsuitability of the father’s accommodation in this context. An amended transfer application was then submitted to include the children and the council subsequently responded by accepting the amended application. The father’s points allocation was increased to the level required for accommodation with two bedrooms.
This issue has arisen in a number of cases Mercy Law has dealt with. Separated parents who are actively co-parenting their children can have difficulty securing suitable accommodation for regular overnight stays by the children. In this case, the council was prepared to consider the particular circumstances of the family and to recognize that the father was genuinely involved and committed to full participation in rearing his children. The council took all the evidence presented to it into consideration and revised its assessment of housing need in light of all the facts.
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