Advice on separating, custody and costs(6 Posts)
I think I'm just about to have a trial separation from my husband. We've only been married about 20 months and have a 3yr old and an 18m old. My first pregnancy wasn't planned and in order for us to be a family I moved 120miles away from the place that I'd lived in for 30 years. I do like where we live now, but I have hardly any friends and no family nearby. I'm fortunate to have a good movable job, so don't need to rely on him financially (actually don't wAnt any of his money) so long as I move back to where I'm from (currently 1/2 my salary goes on childcare and I could never afford a house if I was continuing to pay this - my mum will do childcare for free). He's told me he can get a court order to prevent me moving away with the children. Is this true? Also, one of the reasons for leaving is that he is a useless father. Since the eldest was born the longest he has ever looked after them is 8 hours, and that is under duress and he phoned me frequently to ask all sorts of questions which any vaguely engaged father would know thd answer to (like what to give them for lunch). Basically he couldn't look after them for a weekend, and worse than that he might get his mum to 'help' and she is dangerous around them (gives them plastic bags to play with). Ideally I'd like to go for sole custody, but I know he would never agree to this, what rights do I have? Also how much does a basic divorce cost? Neither of us had been unfaithful, we are just 2 very different people who have tried very hard to make a family and it hasn't worked.
Don't underestimate the importance attached to contact. "Custody" was replaced with Parental Responsibility in 1989. Parental Responsibility means both parents have equal responsibility and rights to carry out those responsibilities. That means important decisions such as where children live, when they have contact, changing their names and changing schools need to be agreed. If no agreement can be reached it is open to either parent to apply to court for an order to regulate Parental Responsibility. Then the the rights and needs of the child to maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents and the child's welfare that are the main considerations. An alternative to resolving disputes is mediation.
A Child Arrangement Order determines where a child lives and when they have contact. A Specific Issue Order resolves a specific issue such as which school a child should attend and a Prohibited Steps Order prevents something from happening or changes something back to what it was before. Your husband could apply for for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent your child from being relocated, at least until the court can investigate and come to a decision.
When couples separate children's routines have to change and sometimes a father who hasn't been very involved with a child becomes more involved after parental separation. However children need many routines to stay the same and if you have provided most of the care before separation then that's unlikely to change after separation. What you are probably looking at is your children having shortish frequent spells of contact with your husband so that their bond is maintained and developed. As children get older they tend to be more settled with longer less frequent periods of contact. It's hard work, but if you can keep communication positive problems such as that lack of parenting skills can be resolved constructively. As far as the court is concerned parents don't need to be brilliant, just "good enough."
If you want to move away with the children and your husband won't agree you need to be prepared to demonstrate well though out practical plans for accommodation, finances, work, education child care, contact and travel arrangements. As you are moving away you may be expected to do a lot of the travelling and pay for it. Other considerations are your motivation for moving and whether it is just to frustrate contact, you husband's motivation for opposing the move and whether it is more to do with issues between adults than about the children, and if the place you proposing to move to is accessible.
A high street solicitor would charge about £1k to manage a divorce. The finances are dealt with separately and depending on the work involved could cost another £1.5k-£2k. IT's cheaper using online services but like most things in life you get what you pay for. If agreement can't be reached it can cost tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands in legal fees fighting through the courts.
When you say trial separation, you should understand all the trouble your children would go through in this process. Consult your friends and family before taking this step. As for your husband getting a court order, you need to discuss this with know divorce lawyers London who could guide you right legally. I would suggest you get in touch with divorce solicitors at www.opencounsel.co.uk , i am sure you would get good advice.
Your last sentence seems to be an assessment that the relationship cannot be made to work, so why are you only going for a trail separation, and how is this trial going to help if you move so far away from your husband?
Either you are separating for good, and moving back home (a large but single disruption for your children) OR you are moving out and seeing if there is a away of co-parenting alone for a bit with the final objective of getting back together/reaching a workable solution that shares residence and responsibility.
Given your ex would struggle to cope with the kids for long periods without you there (like mine!) it may not be the best idea to move so far away forcing him to see them less (when I presume you want him to step up more so you actually get a bit of a break sometimes?).
I have been sorely tempted to upsticks and go back to my parents last year, but in the end I have been thankful that I didn't. Instead I stuck it out, found a great childminder and am back at work leading a relatively independent life. Now all I need is to get the divorce through and I can reclaim my financial independence as well
Thanks for the advice. I wouldn't move during the trial separation, my husband would move out to a flat locally and see the children on the evenings that I work and at the weekend. He isn't going to step up, he just isn't capable (and I don't mean that nastily, he just can't manage 2 small children, and no amount of me stepping back is going to change that), so I don't see that I would get any independence. He will always need supervised contact. I work shifts so getting a childminder just isn't an option, we are going to need a nanny for close on 10 years, which costs about £2K a month. If I move closer to my mum she will do it for free, the children adore her, she will also help out any other time I need it and all my friends are back there. Obviously I wouldn't move my children away for a trial.
What do you mean "he will always need supervised contact"? Is he a danger to the children? Alcohol abuse, history of drugs, violence etc? If he isn't or you can't prove that he is then you've not got a chance at Court of insisting that his contact is supervised even in the short term definitely not the long term.
Moving away will mean he sees the kids less and so it's likely to be for longer periods, alternate weekends instead of a few hours a few times a week perhaps.
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