What is a Part 25 Expert?
A part 25 expert is a specialist who becomes involved in Child Arrangements cases.
Sometimes this expert is required for the Children. Other times they are required for one or other of the parents, for example, where there are complex mental health issues such as Borderline Personality Disorder or Bi-Polar.
In Family proceedings, this comes under s13(8) of the Children and Families Act 2014 (Link Here).
A Judge is not a competent authority on specialist medical or psychological matters. For this reason, where necessary, the assistance of a relevant expert can significantly inform the Court. This enables them to make the right decision and to, insofar as is possible, avoid the potential for introducing more forms of harm to the Children of the family.
More info about Part 25 Experts here.
In cases where there is hostility to contact, and this can be from either the resident parent or the Child (or both) it can be necessary to engage a Child Psychologist to analyse the circumstances and the individuals and assist the Court in understanding the wider dynamics of what lays behind the issues.
Hostility to contact, implacable hostility and intractable hostility are all variant terms to describe what is better known as ‘Parental Alienation’. Parental Alienation is a concept understood by Cafcass, but it is not contained within primary (laws) or secondary (practice directions/rules) legislation.
Sometimes it can be necessary for a Guardian-ad-litem to be appointed so that the Children are separately represented. In these circumstances, a Part 25 Expert will be agreed by the Court and appointed by the Guardian.
However, where an independent Guardian has not been appointed (perhaps because the Court does not think this is needed), you will have to make any application you want to the Court.
Best practice is to consider what experts you need when filing an application at the initial stages.
However, sometimes it becomes evident that an expert is needed within proceedings. In this case, the best way to do this is to submit a C2 (within proceedings) application with your Part 25 Expert submission.
The important factors to address when making a submission are —
- The name of the Expert
- Expert’s Curriculum Vitae (CV) and professional credentials
- Proposed joint letter of instruction (draft)
- How the cost of the Expert will be funded
- Reasonable estimate of the time needed to compile a report
- A detailed explanation of how the Expert will benefit the process
The joint letter of instruction must set out the questions which the Expert shall attempt to address. These questions must be objective and not be used as a way of weaponising the report against one or other parent.
The Court will go through this draft letter in detail and amend any questions which the Court feels are unreasonable or unnecessary.
Most Part 25 requests fail because it has not been made clear to the Court how the expert is to be funded. Experts are expensive. Incredibly expensive. So the Court will want to be sure that it is necessary to incur the cost by weighing up a cost to benefits analysis.
In cases where the requesting party is legal aid funded, then Legal Aid will pay at least a part of the cost. Where there is a Guardian involved with the Children, the Guardian will be funded by the Legal Aid Authority. So the cost of any expert will be shared equally between the parties and the number of Children (eg. two children will receive 50% funding and each parent must bear the remaining 50% equally between them).
Make sure that the funding element is clearly shown to the Court.
It goes without saying, but the proposed Expert must be qualified to produce a report. And they must not be connected to the family in any way.
If you need a Part 25 Expert, ask us to assist you in putting the application together.