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Any advice on a custody situation?

(5 Posts)
Devon2010 Tue 16-Nov-10 09:04:52


My boyfriend of 3 years has a 4 year old with his ex girlfriend. We have regular access, every other weekend plus one extra night a week. Unfortunately, things have turned sour over the past few weeks, namely as she is completely unreasonable and somewhat unstable. The accusations that have come from her side towards both me and my partner have been completely ridiculous and unfounded (this has been since we have been together - she has a tendency to make things up and convince herself that they are true). The latest problem comes from her announcing that she is buying a house several hundred miles away and therefore we will not have any contact in the future. This may just be a bluff from her side but we are not prepared to risk it! Whilst up until now, the agreements in place have been set out without outside help, we are now getting some legal advice. The worry is that she will make things incredibly difficult as 'punishment' for getting solicitors involved - ie stopping all contact whatsoever.

I was just wondering what you thought of 50% custody for us - whether it would be likely, or indeed beneficial for the child? Or if you had any advice?
Ideally, we'd prefer to have full custody as we would be able to give the child a more well rounded and stable upbringing than her current situation but we know this is highly unlikely. I must also point out that in no way am I attempting to take over the role of mother, but I love my partner very much and don't want him to have his heart broken by losing contact with the child.

Apologies for the long post, it seems I have a lot to get off my chest! I do hope that someone who has experienced a similar situation might be able to pass on some words of wisdom!

Thanks so much

STIDW Tue 16-Nov-10 10:01:14

Unless there is evidence such as school, police, medical or social work reports that a child isn't surviving satisfactorily the courts are extremely unlikely to change the status quo. Changing residence to sole or 50:50 would be disrupting the child's sense of security and established bonds. A shared residence order to underline the importance of both parents is more likely but that wouldn't necessarily prevent relocation.

In many cases it is more productive to accept the move is going to take place and negotiate workable arrangements for contact. When distance is a problem and it isn't possible for midweek contact or even every other weekend the parent with the minority of care may be compensated with a larger share of the quality time at half terms every six weeks or so and school holidays.

If your partner applied to court for a prohibited steps order the mother would need to show well thought out plans for living arrangements, education, work, finances and contact before the court would allow the children to move. A poor contact history is one factor taken into consideration along with the motivation of both parents for wanting/not wanting relocation.

Generally speaking the courts do not prevent a parent with the majority of care from moving unless it is to somewhere inaccessible or the move is to frustrate contact. However, a PSO application means that at least proper arrangements for contact and travel etc are in place before the move.

Devon2010 Tue 16-Nov-10 10:58:00

STIDW thanks for your response, it is much appreciated. I realise we are going to be unable to prevent relocation and of course we do not want to cause any distress for the child, though in all honesty the mother does very little parenting (leaving it to her mother instead).

Thank you for the information on the prohibited steps order, I have heard so many different things about it, it is definitely something we can discuss with the solicitor though I am sure it is very difficult to use it to prevent anything if the mother is determined enough. I do think though that it may be useful in trying to illustrate just how much of a support system exists within the current arrangement, in terms of childcare (grandparents and us) contact with the extended family and how little there would be were she to move (only her current partner up there).

Interestingly, recently a 50/50 split on care was discussed and agreed to theoretically by her, in order to help her out a bit financially however now she has gone in the opposite direction.

prh47bridge Tue 16-Nov-10 12:50:21

Don't give up on preventing relocation. Whilst the normal principle is that the parent with care can live wherever they choose, there are cases where the court has prevented the parent from moving when it is clear they are only doing so to make contact difficult or impossible. Even if she is allowed to move the courts will want appropriate arrangements in place for contact. The usual principle is that the parent who moves away has to meet the costs of contact, either directly (e.g. by making her do all the travelling) or by reduced maintenance.

She cannot simply withdraw contact on the grounds that she is moving away as she is threatening.

Devon2010 Tue 16-Nov-10 15:00:32

Hi prh47bridge,

Thanks for your message. That is encouraging to hear, I am sure she will do all that she can to make contact difficult, it seems to be in her nature. We only want to create a fair situation that gives the child the best possible upbringing, that works for all of us - she has no concept of compromise and expects us to change plans/drop everything according to her whims, yet will not do the same for us! It really can be infuriating!

I think it has unfortunately reached a point where the courts have to become involved, I see no chance of resolving this in an amicable manner between us and her, but perhaps she may realised that by taking this route, we are very committed to doing the right thing for the child.

Golly, sorry to ramble on again, thank you so much for your response, it has given me some comfort in a time of turmoil.

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