Hello and thanks for your question.
The scenario as I understand is that your neighbour has a 7 year old child and she has just separated from the father of the child. There is an allegation of violence by her against the father, but no independent evidence of that, and no report by the police, so no investigation by the police.Your neighbour wants to stop any further contact between the father and the child, and you ask what criteria will the court take into account. He already has parental reposnsibility as he is named on the birth certificate.
If your neighbour wants to get a formal court order for "no contact" she will have to apply to the family court. If the father wants to see the child but the mother is stopping him, he will have to apply to court for a a defined contact contact.
It makes no difference which of them applies to court first -the court will consider carefully both their positions.
However, the court starts from the position that it is government policy that children should have contact with the parent that they do not live with - unless there are VERY good reasons why not. So your client will be on the back foot from the start - because she will have to justfiy why she wants to stop contact. Within the court papers, she can of course repeat her allegations that her ex has been violent to her - but the court will be suspicious of the fact that she has not reported this violence to the police.
It is highly unlikely that the court will order an immediate stop to all contact between the child and their father - especially as it sounds as if the child has a good relationship with the father who ended his relationship with the mother only a week or so ago. At most, while the court investigates exactly what happened, the court may order that the contact between the child and father should be supervised only eg at a local contact centre.
The criteria that the court will take into account is whether the child is safe, happy and properly looked after when in the father's care. See the welfare checklist in section 1 of the Children Act 1989 for more details.
Once Cafcass has prepared a detailed report on the welfare issues, the court will consider its recommendations, about how often, where, whether supervision is necessary, arrangements for handover etc. The fact that he has parental responsibilty does not affect the decison of the court in relation to contact.
Women's aid can give your neighbour valuable moral support with a 24 hour helpline if she wants to talk through what has happened, and they will go with her to the police station and/or to court. Their telehone number is 0808 2000 247, and their website is http://www.womensaid.org.uk/.
Unfortunately, she will not qualify for legal aid unless she can provide the very specific evidence of domestic violence that the Legal Aid Agency now requires eg overnight is a women's refuge within the last 2 years, a non-molestation order within the last 2 years, a police caution or conviction within the last 2 years, and I believe also a current and ongong police investigation. For more details see:-
Her ex-partner will not qualify for legal aid.
I would advise her to seek face-to-face legal advice as soon as possible. Here's where to find a specialist family law solicitor:-
I hope this helps and I wish you and your neighbour the best of luck.
Thanks and best wishes...