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specific issue order

(17 Posts)
jod82 Mon 26-Aug-13 15:51:10

I moved 40 miles away from home with ds' dad when he was a baby and we split up a few months later leaving me struggling as a single parent miles away from any help and support. This was 5 years ago now and I managed to afford to move back home two years ago and now live with my new partner and we are getting married in a few weeks. my ex has also since married and we all get on well apart from one issue, my ex refuses to let me move ds to a school where we now live so he has to travel for an hour to get to and from school/.
My ex did agree to change his days to three days during the week to cut down on the travelling time for ds but now wants to change them back because he (ds) will be playing football on saturdays. I agreed that if he had three days during the week I wouldn't change the school purely because it would involve going to court as legally I can't do anything without his permission and there simply isn't enough money to pay for a solicitor.
Changing his days back puts us right back where we started and it's just too much to get up and leave the house at 6.30 am to travel for an hour to get to school plus now he's getting older ds is asking to go to school where we live, he can't undersand why he has to travel so far when his friends don't plus he also wants to make more friends where we live as he only knows a couple of other children and we have been here two years now.
Am I being unreasonable by wanting to move his school? I personally feel that it would be in ds' best interests to be at school here but his dad disagrees and I want to see if other people think I am acting for myself or for my son

titchy Mon 26-Aug-13 16:17:16

Entirely agree with you - ridiculous for a small child to travel that far to school, plus I assume his friendships are inhibited as play dates are impossible so far away.

jod82 Mon 26-Aug-13 16:24:43

He can't see his school friends on the weekends as he is here with me.
I told his dad that if he moves school I will bring him over on a weds for football training and after school on the friday but he refuses to entertain the idea, he keeps telling me I am only thinking about myself and when you hear that often enough you start to doubt your reasons eventually.
The only problem is I can't afford a solicitor so I am terrified that the courts will rule that it is in his best interests to stay at the present school as he has been for the last two years since we moved and that they will decide he should live with his dad in the week while he is at school to avoid the travelling

mumtobealloveragain Mon 26-Aug-13 18:13:04

I'm not a solicitor, so can't help you from a legally trained point of view but can give my opinion based on my experiences as a parent..

So your son was already at school when you moved 40 miles away from where his dad lives? Did his dad originally agree that he could change schools and then said no? I'm just wondering why you would move without sorting a new school out for your son before moving?

Am I right in thinking current he has your son 3 nights a week and you have him 4 nights a week? He wants to change it to 2 nights a week and one weekend day and you don't want that as your son would have to travel 40 miles to school each day with you and that would go from 2 weekdays a week to 3 weekdays a week if you agree the change?

As you share residency (informally I assume) is there any reason why your son should go to school near you rather than near his dad? If you move your sons to a school near you then surely that means on the days he is at his dads he still has the long journey to do?

Can't you and your partner move nearer to your son's school? It means your son can have his parents and his 2 homes near each other and means he doesn't have to change school, leave his friends etc.

jod82 Mon 26-Aug-13 18:53:49

The only reason he started at the school was because we moved in the October so he couldn't start at a local school because we didn't have a local address at the start of the school year. I initially agreed to see how it went for the first year and it soon became clear it was too much.
The reason I moved is because I was living so far away from my family and didn't know anyone in the area so was struggling as I felt so isolated and that meant my son was suffering. Even though I am now with someone moving back there isn't an option, neither of us work near the area and apart from there being two of us there there would be no other family nearby and this would also mean that my son would no longer be able to see my side of the family as much as he does.
I proposed that his father had different days if the school moved so there would be no early morning travelling for my son, I also said I would take him over for football training and after school on a friday as at the moment his dad rarely if ever brings him home on the weekends in the holidays

jod82 Mon 26-Aug-13 18:56:09

I should also add that my son has been asking to go to school where we live, he doesn't understand why he can't go to school where he lives like other children do and he wants to make more friends in our local area.
On the one occasion he told his dad that this was what he wanted he was told that he could move schools if he wanted but he wouldnt' be able to see his dad anymore. Hardly appropriate.
Also a load of rubbish considering I offered to take him over there so he could see him

mumtobealloveragain Mon 26-Aug-13 20:38:08

I'm not sure (from what you've posted and if I have understood correct) that I agree that he should moves schools or if a Court would agree he should either. For the following reasons;

1. You chose to move 40 miles away from your son's school knowing that he couldn't immediately get into the local school. When you said you initially agreed to "see how it went for the 1st year2 I assume your ex didn't agree to him moving schools after that 1st year?

2. You say you want your son to go to school near "home". From what you've said his father has him there 3 nights each week, so surely that is his home too.

3. What 3 different days a week could your son go to his dad's house if he move schools so there was no long journey? Even if he stayed with his dad every Friday and Saturday night that's still only 2 nights compared to the current 3 nights per week.

4. If going to school near his dad means he can't see your side of the family so much then surely the same goes the other way - if he does to school near you then he can't see his dad's side of the family as much. Having said that, you currently have every weekend with your son to see your side of the family, your ex only gets 3 school nights with him.

Basically, I don't think your son should move schools. Given residency is almost equal between both parents and that you chose to move away I don't see why you as the mum have more right to have the child go to school near you than his dad.

You'd need to prove to a Court that him moving schools is in his best interests and unless there a lot you haven't mentioned I don't think what you have said does, at all. You would need to prove the disruption to his life of moving schools and leaving his old friends behind, and the disruption to his contact with his dad is outweighed by the benefits of him moving school..

How old is your son? Of course if he is in his teens he may well have a say in the matter and have his wishes and feelings heard by the Court.

I think a Judge is likely to side with his dad and suggest your son stays at his current school and stays more weekdays with his dad and has more weekends and holiday days with you. I understand your ex is asking to change one of his weekdays with him for a Saturday to do football, can;t you suggest his has him the 3 weekdays and the Saturday as you have been doing? In fact, if I were your ex I wouldn't want my son travelling 40 miles to school 2 mornings a week and I would be the one applying to Court to have a residency order made that stated my son resides with me weekdays.

jod82 Wed 28-Aug-13 18:37:08

Does the fact that my son regularly asks why he can't go to school here not show that it is something he want to do as well?
I don't see how staying with his dad all week and being with me at the weekends could be in his best interests at all? He has already said that he wouldn't want that and I fail to see how removing a child from their mother can be in their best interests if it would upset them?

jod82 Wed 28-Aug-13 18:38:46

Also, if he went over for football training one night a week and stayed fri and sat nights with his dad that would be more 'awake' hours to actually do things together than he does now, rather than just the hours between his dad getting home from work and him going to bed

evertonmint Wed 28-Aug-13 21:45:29

So it's too far from your family for you to move back there, but your son still commutes there 2-3 days per week? How often do you need to see your family? I'd wager it's less than the number of times your son has to do the commute. I think you're being a teeny bit selfish here - you moved away without sorting the schooling issue, and are effectively the cause of your son's long commute because you prefer to be closer to your family. I'd be seriously considering moving back there. If he can do it 3 times a week it's really not that isolated from your family!!!

jod82 Thu 29-Aug-13 07:22:57

I moved to be nearer my family because as a single mum knowing literally no one over there I was really struggling, I was suffering from depression and had no support.
Moving back there would cost us around an extra £200 a month in rent as the area is much more expensive and my son doesn't want to live there, it is something that has come up in conversation and he has told me he likes living here and being able to see my side of the family as well as his dads.
How old does a child have to be before what they think about a situation is taken into consideration?

mumtobealloveragain Thu 29-Aug-13 18:11:20

How old would he have to be to have his opinions listened to? Well it varies, 10/11 maybe. BUT children don't always know what is best for them, they may think they do but they don't. Even a child of that age or older doesn't have the "choice" if the parents don't agree then a Judge will take all the facts and decide what is best for the child. Judges also know that a young child can easily be convinced they want something even if they don't and have their feelings and emotions manipulated by one or the other parent, so this is taken into account to (not saying that's what is happening in your case but it does happen). Also remember he may be trying to please you both and keep you both happy, he may say to you he wants to go to school near your house and say the exact same to his dad.

I did ask before, as I feel it's relevant to the advice and information you are offered.. How old is your son?

jod82 Thu 29-Aug-13 20:02:25

He is 6 1/2. I have spoken to cafcass and they said they probably wouldn't even speak to him which is fine. Like you just said, I do worry that he is trying to keep me happy.
I have offered that he just has different days with his dad and so doesn't lose out on the time they spend together,the only difference would be his school would be where he lives and he wouldn't be travelling so far early in the morning. I really want to stress that I have no intention of trying to reduce the amount of time my son spends with his dad, just to change the days. His dad's reason for not having him both friday and saturday night was because he and his wife need time to do things just the two of them.
I find this hard to understand, they have the other four nights of the week just the two of them and at the moment my son is with me all weekend which I love, weekends are family time. Surely not wanting him to move school because he would have to give up weekends to have his son isn't putting his son's interests first?

mumtobealloveragain Fri 30-Aug-13 14:54:28

Jod82, none of us can predict what outcome you will have if you make an application to Court, as there are so many variables that affect that outcome, not least the specific Judge on the day and what agreements you and your ex may make before you even get in front of the Judge.

However, I think you are being unreasonable from a parent's point of view and in my experience I don't think you'll get a Judge to order he move schools.

If my ex moved away then said he thought our children should move schools because he has moved I would be livid and fight it all the way. Offering the same amount of contact time isn't enough, you'd have to prove there was a very good reason for him to move schools, that the advantages of moving schools outweigh the disadvantages AND that it wouldn't negatively affect the quality of relationship he has with his dad. You don't seem to have a good reason from what you've said.

At 6.5 he is very unlikely to be spoken to by Cafcass, especially as this isn't a residency "battle" and it is about where he goes to school. A 6.5 yr old cannot understand or make that decision.

His dad may have all sorts of reasons for not wanting to change his pattern of contact, probably mainly that he knows you want to change it so you can move his school. If he agree to the change then you have more chance of convincing a Judge to order that he can change school, so you can't blame him for not wanting that.

What him and his new wife get up to isn't really of concern, if you do make an application to Court for this issue I really wouldn't raise that argument, without being too harsh, it looks jealous and petty.

Ultimately, the is no good reason for him to move school, there doesn't seem to be any real benefit to him moving school and I think you are very unlikely to win this one.

If your really only concern is your son's traveling time to school then you either need to negotiate with your ex so your son spends weekdays with him or you need to move back to where your son's school is. I know it's £200 a month more to rent there, but you'll be saving a fortune in petrol costs surely, and there will have to be other things sacrificed to ensure you can meet your child's educational needs. It seems as though moving was necessary at the time but moving back seems necessary now.

jod82 Fri 30-Aug-13 21:06:34

Living with his dad during the week wouldn't really be practical, they live in a one bedroom flat and he sleeps on a mattress on the floor which they have put in the cupboard under the stairs. I can't see how this would be a suitable sleeping arrangement for 4-5 nights a week, I'm not happy about it as it is.
The school I would like to move him to has a much better ofsted report and I would be able to drop him off and pick him up most days whereas on the days his dad has him he is picked up by either a childminder or his stepmothers mum. He doesn't see his schoolfriends as he isn't there at the weekends and he isn't home from the childminders until after his dad finishes work whereas if he was at school over here he would be able to see his friends both after school and on sundays.
What would you actually consider to be a 'good' reason?

mumtobealloveragain Fri 30-Aug-13 21:38:50

Hmm, well that's a little more than you posted again. Do bear in mind though I am not a legal professional or legally trained but I have experience of this (similar situation) as a mum with an ex who I share residency with and as a step mum who's partner shares residency with his ex. Plus I have done a fair bit of my own research (and lurking on threads on here for far too long of course).

The Ofsted report won't be taken into consideration, any school that is open is deemed satisfactory or at least under special measures to improve. So a better Ofsted report isn't a good enough reason to move him.

Sleeping on a mattress on the floor isn't ideal, but hardly a huge problem. Plenty of people live in a 1 bed place with a child or two. (I did years ago) I don't think this would win you an argument at Court as his dad will just offer to give him the bedroom and they have the living room as their bedroom (he will be advised to offer this by his solicitor of course). Plus you have been happy with him living there 3 days a week for the past year AND you propose for his dad to still have him there 3 days a week even if you move his school, so you can't say you're dead against it, 3 nights or 4 nights a week isn't a huge difference and sort of dampens your argument.

The fact his dad has a childminder collect him from school every day you you are available everyday may be useful, but not the be all and end all. His childminder 3 days a week is a routine for him and he will likely have friends there and get to play with school friends there too. His stepmother's mum collecting him will be seen as him spending time with his extended family, so not an issue really. Remember your ex could counter argue this and say IF he had him school days he could apply for flexi-working or cut his hours down and be available for most school pick ups too, or his new wife may offer to pitch in (I would do that if it were me at least) Don't forget if he has him school days he would be the "main" carer, he will be able to claim the Child Benefit and therefore claim maintenance from you, with that he may be able to afford to work a bit less and be there a bit more. Not that I know what he's like, just possible things that he may say in Court.

A "good" reason for changing schools?

The current school isn't meeting his specific needs ie he has special needs that can be better catered for at another school. This would be a very valid argument.

You seem really sure you want this to happen though so why not just make the application and try? You need to fill out a C100, you can print this form online if you Google it, take 3 copies (and the fee of £200) to the Court and they will book a hearing for you for the near future. You will need to state all your reasons for wanting him to move schools on the application, all the benefits to you son as arguments for moving and also how you propose the relationship between him and his dad is not damaged / contact limited.

I do think you need to serious consider that if you and your ex disagree the Judge may make an order that nether of you are happy with. The Judge may decide it is better for your son to stay at his current school and or your ex to have weekdays as the journey (you've said yourself) is too long for him in the mornings. It's a roll of the dice if you decide to make the application really, it's up to you if it's worth the risk. Personally, I'd just move back.

Without wishing to Judge or insult you i think you made a huge mistake moving away before you had this issue sorted & you'd have stood a greater chance of winning at Court if you had made an application to move his school before you moved house. (Plus then you wouldn't be stuck 40miles from your son's school).

jod82 Fri 30-Aug-13 23:42:01

I know I should have done it when we moved but my ex was always very controlling and put me down a lot when we were together and I guess when he critisises my abilities as a mum it still gets to me.
He currently pays no maintenance, he originally stopped as I was spending the money on things like paying the bills and buying food which he didn't think it should be spent on, as he now has our son three days a week he won't pay anything as he doesn't feel he has to which I understand but as I understand the csa would still expect him to pay around 20-30 a week.
He claims to have no money to buy school shoes but he has told me he is getting a new passport for our son (they have no holiday booked that I know of) which I am not allowed to have unless I need it to go away or to register our son for sports and he expects it back straight away -his exact words "I paid for it, it's mine"
I wouldn't mind if I thought he was doing this because he thought it was best for our son but I know full well he just wants him there so he doesn't have to make the effort, our son did once tell him that he would like to go to school here (not encouraged by me) and he told him that if he wanted to move schools he could but he wouldn't see him any more. I then had a very upset child to deal with who couldn't understand that if we can drive over there for school his dad wouldn't come and see him.
I didn't mention these things in my original post because I wanted people's opinions on our situation purely based on what is best for our son and I know that a lot of these things may affect how I feel about his dad but that doesn't necessarily effect what is best for our son regarding his school.
The only reason I mention it is because I want you to understand that I really don't think he is actually thinking about this from our son's point, I have tried to get him to attend mediation twice and he refused to even consider it or discuss different arrangements, the only reason he changed to three nights during the week in the first place wasn't to reduce the travelling time our son did but because he got him a place at a football club that trained on the tuesday night.
I did speak to someone at the school but when she went to speak to him he told her a load of c**p that wasn't even true, I know absolutely none of this would make any difference in a court but it may help you to understand a bit more about what he is like

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