A skeleton argument is a document which identifies, for both the parties and the court, the relevant matters for the court to consider which the parties disagree upon, and also those matters upon which the parties have reached agreement.
A skeleton argument is, as the name suggests, an outline of the case before the court and matters to be considered. The detail of the arguments will be made orally, in person, before the court.
Skeleton arguments are prepared for contested or final hearings and for appeal hearings. If you are legally represented, your solicitor or barrister will prepare this document.
A skeleton argument should include the following information (and we suggest you use these headings e.g. the text in bold and underlined). Our suggested headings are simply that, our suggestion, but will help give some structure to your skeleton argument:
As an example: The parents separated on 10.06.2010. At a hearing before Mr Justice Blenkinsopp on 21.01.2011, interim contact was agreed. The matter of the father´s application for shared residence and the mother´s counter application for sole residence is not agreed.
What you write should be concise and brief e.g. Father wants this, mother wants that.
This section should ideally be no more than a couple of paragraphs.
As an example, if your child was refusing to see you, the child was young, and it was believed that the parent with whom the child lives was influencing them, you may wish to cite the case TE v SH and S  EWHC 192 and the trial judge´s observation:
"It would be ... inappropriate ..to proceed on the basis that expressed wishes and feelings should necessarily be taken at face value. They need to be assessed in the light of [S´s] age and understanding. The impact of alienation upon the reliability of those wishes and feelings and the signs (albeit modest) that they may not in fact reflect his true feelings, are matters to be taken into account when assessing the weight to be attached to them"
Within our family law app, you will find a menu of case law which you can refer to when writing this section. We have included a brief summary of points of law contained in those cases and the full text of judgments in both on screen and printable formats.
As an example: The mother told CAFCASS that the children are nervous of their father [D146]. CAFCASS have observed the children in the father´s care, and comment on the close bond between them (then give a reference to the CAFCASS Report, including its page and paragraph number within the court bundle... e.g. [D147 para 3]
In the above example, the reference D would be the section of the court bundle, and the page numbers mentioned (e.g. 146 and 147) would be parts of the CAFCASS section 7 report and the page number from the court bundle.
This pack includes our guide to preparing a skeleton argument and a template for a skeleton argument including suggested headings.£5.00
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Family law information for parents whose children are resident in England and Wales
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