mother's right to move away...(5 Posts)
Been separated since 2005 - DD is 12, DS1 is 8. Remarried & have 2 DS's with DH, aged 2 and 10 months. XP had equal parenting time until September 2010 when DD started secondary school. However during that whole period, I/DH/my mum did all the school runs, bar one, which his dad did, and every day there was a problem with uniform and equipment being left at his, them going to school in dirty uniform & homework, reading and practise not done. When DD was moving up to secondary & DS1 to junior, DH and I decided that the midweek stayover's were not an option any more, because of all those reasons, so we changed it so that they still go over there for dinner, but come back home again for DS1's bedtime. Despite the fact that he bends those times, has signed DS1 up for an extra activity that uses up extra time, we've tried to stay amicable and reasonable wherever possible.
We've also stayed in the vicinity although we would have liked to have moved away a long time ago. However, it's looking increasingly likely that we may have to move soon - DH's work may be moving to the other side of London or further away, making his commute practically impossible.
From what I've read, it seems that courts are unlikely to grant him full residential rights, as long as we make up any term time he loses in the holidays. So, if we brought the kids back every other weekend and then added 10 days to his half of the holidays, then the courts would think we were being reasonable right? And if we agreed to bring them one weekend, would he be obliged to pick them up for the other? Does anyone know of how these relocation things go?
I must admit I'm not up on the meanings of all the abbreviations (DS1, DD etc), but I think I get the gist of what you're problem is. I speak as a family law solicitor who specialises in children issues (ie. contact and residence), and I hope that my general thoughts on your situation might be of some help.
First of all, the fact that you've already agreed and adjusted with your ex some of the arrangements for the kids to spend time with him bodes well for the changes ahead. The simple fact is that whatever arrangements are made concerning how much time kids spend with their separated parents, they can never be set in stone; kids grow, what they do changes, and each of the parents lives change and move one as well. This is inevitable and often tough decisions have to be made at some point.
As it appears that your kids spend the a majority of time with you, there would need to be some very unusual circumstances in your case for your ex to be awarded residence for your kids. Don't worry about this.
What will need to be resolved is the change in arrangements for your kids to spend time with your ex/their dad. A good attempt at constructive and non-confrontational dialogue is key, and there are a number of ways to do this including direct between yourselves (the cheapest way, but not necessarily the easiest), or perhaps professional help via mediation or the collaborative family law process (for whihc costs are involved but a lot cheaper in terms of £ and stress than going to court). more info is available from Resolution via http://www.resolution.org.uk/alternatives_to_court/
What you suggest is sensible; ie. making up time the kids miss with their dad because when they live further away. Also, sharing arrangements for transport reflects the "give and take" approach which is favoured by family judges I work with, andall going well you won't need to go anywhere near a court to resolve these issues. However, if you have a problem which cannot be resolved by agreement (even with professional help) then use of the Children Act 1989 will hold the kids welfare as the "paramount consideration" together with a number of other factors know as the "welfare checklist". This means that there is no "one fits all" solution, but resolvng matters amicably and away from court with the ideas you suggest will allow you to tailor the solution to your unique family needs.
Good luck and I hope this is of some help.
PooleFamilyLaw (also on Twitter)
Thanks PFL - I'll look you up on twitter - since posting the other day, I've done some research, and it turns out that my DH's home town, where his parents live, has at least 2 secondary school's and a couple of primaries that have an outstanding Ofsted - while DS1's school here has the same rating, DD's doesn't - and so, now even she is completely stoked with the idea of moving. Seriously, the one we would be closest to has a record of being in the top 10% of GCSE results nationally. DH, DD and I all now think that we'd be mad not to go, but will stick to our word of not going unless we have to.
ILT - we mentioned a while back about moving 1/2 hour down the road and he went bonkers, saying we couldn't do it because the schools were shit. While this is NOT about reducing his time with the kids, but really about making my DH's life easier and getting them (and the other 2 DS's) as good an education as possible, he will make it all about how it's going to be stupidly difficult for him to see them. In 6 years, he's not made the effort to learn to drive, still lives with his parents, and obviously just wants to be 'fun time' dad - he's quite happy to take them to the cinema twice in one day or buy a second copy of a game that was left behind at a relative's, even though DS was going to be retrieving said game within 3 days, but can't put a little bit away for their education, or buy them clothes. Still, I don't presume to tell him how to spend his money, but he seems to have very squewiff priorities.
I've written him a very courteous and straightforward letter, saying that us moving may happen if we can't find something locally, or if DH's work has to move North of London. We'll be doing everything we can to promote his contact with him and have even offered him to stay with us for one weekend a month and bring them to him for the other, so I don't really think we could offer more than that, other than to not move.
It is all very difficult though. I want to do what's best for the kids, for them to have a lovely, stable, supportive environment, a fantastic school, etc, but I know I have to respect his wishes as well.
I do think you are showing consideration and are being reasonable so even if it went to court a judge would be highly unlikely to prevent you from moving.
In some cases the resident parent moves and makes absolutely no allowance for the dad to have reasonable contact so courts do get involved in these situations and impose conditions so that contact can be maintained.
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