OK, warning...this is a really long post!!! I'm hoping there is someone out there who has some experience of this sort of situation and could answer my questions at the bottom!
I am a single mum separated (not yet divorced) from my child's father. My son is 8 months old and has not met his father as he lives in (and is from) the Dominican Republic). I have not visited because I am not in the financial situation to do so and also I have a slight fear that his father will not let him return back to the UK with me.
I told my husband that when I am better off I will help him with his sponsorship for a visitor's visa so he can come and meet his son at our home in the UK. He does not like this idea and says I am being unfair and that I should send our son to stay with him for a year in the Dominican Republic,which terrifies me as I believe this is not in our son's best interests.
I feel this because he already has two children who he has parental responsibility for (due to their mother living abroad) yet the children actually live with his step-aunt. He sees them once every few months and when he does see them he spends limited time with them, preferring to spend time with his friends, he also threatened to beat his son with a belt on several occasions that I was there (I did not know how bad his relationship with his children was until I was pregnant). I don't believe the children see their grandmother or other family members regularly either.
My husband stays with his aunt on the other side of the country from his children, he first went there to live because it is dangerous for him to spend a lot of time in his home town as he is an ex gang member and there is a real risk that he maybe shot at (due to bad blood). The children do not live with him in the current city that he lives because there is no one to look after them.
He is working as in a workshop where he makes very little, he doesn't have a permanent contract as several times he has been laid off and gone for months without work (he didn't actively look for work either). Consequentially, he struggles to fund his two children alone and he has never once given anything to our child (not even a toy, piece of clothing or welcome to the world card when he was born), in fact when I was pregnant he was asking me to send him money to help him buy food for himself even though I'm currently on IS (he
actually bought protein for body building with this money!).
I am seriously looking into getting a Residence Order for our son because I fear that if he does eventually visit, he may try to take our son back there and I will have trouble getting him back. I also had a health scare a few months back and the fear that our son would go to live there permanently scares me to death- I would like to assign my cousin (we a like sisters) as a Guardian in case the worst happens as I know he would have a good life with her, her husband and son.
I wondered if you think it is realistic that a Residence Order would be granted regarding this unusual situation (I think I will be representing myself because I can't afford a solicitor at present)? Also, would my husband need to attend court here in the UK? I think he will have problems entering the country, will this mean I cannot go through with the application for the Order? What other options are available?
I am sorry this is so long winded but I felt I needed to explain this unusual situation! Thank you for reading this even if you can't suggest anything
What do you hope to achieve with a Residence Order?
Parental Responsibility means a parent has the responsibilities and rights to determine where a child shall live, which school they attend, whether a child's name is changed and consent for medial treatment. However it is a criminal offence for someone to take the child abroad without consent from all those with PR or permission from the court. If you do not consent your husband would need to apply for permission from the court.
The Dominican Republic is a signatory of the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction which means the courts in the country where a child habitually has jurisdiction to determine issues related to PR such as where a child shall live when parents cannot agree. When there is evidence of a risk of international child abduction you can apply for Prohibited Steps Order to prevent a child being taken abroad. See the Reunite website for measures to take to prevent abduction.
As the father hasn't got a visa at present he wouldn't be able to attend a Contact or Residence hearing and there is no imminent flight risk.
By getting a Residence Order I hope to achieve allocation of a guardian in the UK in case I die.Ii spoke to a really useful charity called Children's legal Centre because i was asking about allocating a guardian in my will and they told me it would only be recognized with a RO. It means that my husband wouldn't automatically be allowed to take my son to DR if I did die as the person who I appoint would basically take over from me. And be able to request his return as I would if he was 'snatched'. It means that if the worst happened, I would know that there is a great chance he would be able to stay in the UK and have a good childhood as opposed to a rotten one.
You can still nominate a guardian in your will. If the de facto situation is child has not and won't see father ...
At that point that person could apply to court for guardianship. adoption or whatever . Ss courts would look at best interest of the child. That might be staying with familiar people in uk rather than being taken abroad with father he has never met...it also will depend on age of child and child.s wishes at that time.
I think you should work o. Getting your divorce sorted put right now and get some thing recorded about no contact at present due to geography....