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Autism and Child Arrangement Disputes

Extremely informative article by Louise Desrosiers about the issues to be considered in child arrangement disputes involving children on the autistic spectrum. These include:

  • considering psychological, medical and/or educational reports
  • ask for a Cafcass officer with experience of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)
  • the child may benefit from an independent non-parental advocate such as a guardian
  • consider the child's developmental age (rather than actual age) in any arrangements
  • Parental education (SPIPs or DVA courses) may be invaluable
  • flexibility built into the order to allow for ASD related events which may impede one party complying with agreements reached.
  • hygiene and safety

Estimates suggest there are 700,000 people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) living in the UK. Anecdotal reports have placed the divorce rates of couples with autistic children as high as 80%. Therefore it is no surprise that family law professionals are increasingly involved in child arrangement disputes between parents of autistic children. In this article I shall focus on the issues which need to be considered in such cases. Since I hope that it will be useful not only to practitioners but also to parents, I have explained some legal processes and principles with which practitioners, of course, will already be familiar.Since guidance can be found for criminal practitioners dealing with ASD, it is perhaps surprising that there has been no published guidance for court professionals managing family cases. ”