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Moving Abroad During Contact Proceedings?

(22 Posts)
Spowall Sat 22-Sep-12 22:53:39

I am an unemployed single mum living in central London. I have a 3 year old child. My housing benefit has reduced and rent increased, and along with other financial issues I am struggling more and more. It looks like I'll have to move to the outskirts of London just to afford to live, but I know no one there. I have been applying for work but got nowhere.

I was born in Italy and I am still an Italian national, but I haven't lived there since I was a child. I still have family there, including mum, and they tell me to come home and live with them. Now I have been offered a job there too!

The problem is that I am in the middle of contact proceedings. I was only with my ex boyfriend (father) for a short time, but he is very controlling and has made the contact proceedings very unpleasant. Contact is progressing despite his lack of involvement and I resisted it to start with so the court seems to think I may be hostile.

My solicitor tells me I have a good case for returning to my home country but I am worried that my ex will not agree so I want to make sure I get everything right. My solicitor says I just need the offer of job letter and some details about where I will live, what schools etc, and how contact will continue - has anyone got any experience of this? What are my chances of moving home? What is the best way of approaching this to ensure I have the best chance of persuading the court it is in my and my child's best interests (which I sincerely believe it is).

Collaborate Sat 22-Sep-12 23:30:45

From the limited information in your post I'd say your solicitor is right. Trust in their advice.

Spowall Sun 23-Sep-12 11:56:52

My solicitor has consistently let me down, his bad advice and lack of engagement is partly why the court has less sympathy with my position. That's why I'm trawling for advice and guidance elsewhere.

CremeEggThief Sun 23-Sep-12 14:16:55

Could you change solicitor? If you are paying out, you deserve the best for your money. What you find out online shouldn't be as important as what your solicitor tells you.

Maybe you could get a list of local solicitors who offer a free or discounted advice session from your local C.A.B.?

Spowall Sun 23-Sep-12 14:31:24

I'm on legal aid. The solicitor refuses to cooperate with changing representation and now I have a job offer I don't have the time to wait for a long complaints process or legal aid delays. So I'm stuck with someone who rarely answers his phone or my emails, does anything atall. I get a different barrister every hearing and the last one wasn't even briefed.

So I'm here asking 1. if anyone here has direct experience of doing this themselves which they could tell me about, and 2. any solicitors/lawyer-types who might be able to offer some advice.

balia Sun 23-Sep-12 16:51:55

(warning - not a solicitor)

As I understand it, your best chance is to do what your solicitor has suggested - to be prepared to show the court how you are going to ensure that the child has a realistic chance of a relationship with his/her father. I think your ex can apply to stop you taking the child out of the country (he can't stop you, obviously). Is it likely that your ex would try to get residence to keep the child with him? I'm not sure what you mean by contact progressing despite your ex's lack of involvement?

balia Sun 23-Sep-12 16:54:45

Sorry - also meant to stay that if your ex does apply to prevent the move, you would then have to stay until it was sorted out - not a quick process. If the new job has to be taken up in a particualr time period, would it be a good idea to propose something workable to your ex? Eg generous holiday time with DC, maintenance waived in view of the huge costs involved, wekly Skype etc?

Spowall Sun 23-Sep-12 17:13:37

Thanks for your reply Balia.

To answer your question, regarding lack of involvement, ex wasn't involved with my child (financially or otherwise) until he saw me with someone else, that's when he applied for contact accusing me of obstruction and abuse (he never supplied any evidence for anything).

Could I ask what your experience is based on? Because my solicitor hasn't said anything like that atall and seems to make it sound very easy - I apply, give details of job, accommodation, contact options, etc, and the court will grant it! Which is why I feel a bit suspicious that it isn't as simple or easy as he says.

It is almost certain, if not certain, that the ex will try to stop this. He is a solicitor himself and represents himself, so that is a problem for me too. Although it seems extremely unlikely that he would get residence, he does keep applying for shared residence.

Yes, I was thinking weekly skype and looking at places he could stay to visit Italy for contact. Any other suggestions? Child is only 3 and contact is only 2 hours a week at the mo, so contact would have to be in Italy for now.

suburbophobe Sun 23-Sep-12 17:26:59

I'm so sorry you are going through this OP.

I have a DC from an "international relationship" and know what a mine-field it is while negotiating a split.

I came across this website during my search years ago and there are some lawyers listed who may have more specialised knowledge in regard to your situation.

www.reunite.org/lawyers.asp

I really hope you are successful with the move and the new job!

STIDW Sun 23-Sep-12 18:32:46

Consent is required from all those with Parental Responsibility or permission from the courts to remove a child permanently from the UK. If consent isn't forthcoming you would need to apply to court for a Specific Issue Order for leave to remove. Alternatively if the father thinks you might abduct the child without the appropriate consent or permission he could apply to court for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent you leaving the country.

Either way you would need to demonstrate concrete and well thought out plans for accommodation, education, finances, work, child care, contact and travel. Moving for economic reasons and family support are good grounds. The court would consider the contact history and whether the motivation for the move is to frustrate contact. Also under consideration would be the father's motivation for opposing the move and whether that is more to do with controlling behaviour than the interests of the child. Unfortunately the proceedings can take 6 months to reach a final hearing if no agreement is reached during the proceedings.

Sometimes when both parents have been significantly involved and there is a substantial amount of care a court might decide that it's less disruptive to schooling and existing relationships with friends and extended family for the child to stay in the UK and live with the parent who isn't moving. That doesn't seem to apply here because there isn't a substantial amount of contact.

As long as there is no history of contact being frustrated and you have as much evidence as possible about the arrangements and they are practical and well thought out I would have thought your solicitor is correct too.

babybarrister Sun 23-Sep-12 18:39:57

Have a read of the case of Payne v Payne- I do a lot of these cases - it is not easy.... In my professional experience the key issue is future contact.

babyhammock Sun 23-Sep-12 20:15:56

Does your ex have parental responsibility?

Spowall Sun 23-Sep-12 20:34:35

Does your ex have parental responsibility? - yes.

balia Sun 23-Sep-12 21:16:44

I got involved in family law through the experience of a family member; then found out more due to the experiences of DH. So I am in no way as informed as the lovely ladies here who offer advice.

It is important, though, to consider a non-legal perspective; you are going to make a 'normal' father and child relationship impossible if you move. I would suggest that it is morally incumbent on you to promote a relationship and facilitate contact by whatever means possible and find it difficult to reconcile that with the current state of play, ie 2 hours a week. I think you are going to have to do better than finding 'places he could stay' as a forward plan. Are you prepared for your DC to spend extended holiday periods with Dad?

Spowall Mon 24-Sep-12 05:37:28

"Have a read of the case of Payne v Payne- I do a lot of these cases - it is not easy.... In my professional experience the key issue is future contact."

Thank you, that was an extremely helpful post. The Payne v Payne case also refers to other cases which are also helpful reading. Interestingly, none of them seem (as I read them) to make the key issue as contact but, rather, the interests of the child and primary carer. Although, if you are experienced in this field as you say then I take your word for it.

Just to add, here, contact is not an issue. What I am concerned with is that I would be able to take up this job offer (the first in a long time) and build a future for myself and my child. The difficulty is that I am certain the father will oppose. Therefore my question to this board was really to make sure I made the best presentation that I could (contact arrangements included).

babybarrister Mon 24-Sep-12 10:02:13

in contested proceedings the length of litigation will be about a year so make sure they are happy to keep your job open ....

yes you are right , welfare is the primary consideration but in practice it tends to point to contact ....

Spowall Mon 24-Sep-12 12:03:29

"in contested proceedings the length of litigation will be about a year so make sure they are happy to keep your job open ...."

That is most certainly NOT what my solicitor is saying. Is this really standard? I may as well kiss that job offer goodbye then and resign myself to living the rest of my life somewhere in the south of London, where I know no one, on the dole, rather than living a healthy happy life among family and friends in my native country.

My solicitor won't talk with me in any detail about anything and so I am left unclear about everything. What you have said here is a huge suprise!

babybarrister Mon 24-Sep-12 13:20:07

you need good advice - it all depends if he contests it or not.

Spowall Mon 24-Sep-12 13:45:36

"you need good advice - it all depends if he contests it or not." He WILL contest it. He still refuses to move contact venue because it's close to him (5 min walk), so my child and I now have to travel 5 hours every week for a 2 hour session. He refused to allow us to go to Italy for a holiday this year too, and claimed I would abduct, although he knows we have gone 2-3 times per year since my child was born. He will contest.

balia Mon 24-Sep-12 22:38:43

OK, so if he will contest, then no, you won't be able to take up this job offer. Perhaps you need to examine the issue of contact more fully and explore the options then, putting together an ongoing realistic plan that acknowledges the importance of the relationship?

kittycat68 Tue 25-Sep-12 08:53:33

some NR parents will opose everything you do, despite the best interests of the child, and sometimes this goes on for the whole of your childs life. Although it may take a while i belive you and your child would be better off with your family around you where they can give you support. if this job offer falls through get another one!!. You can only change legal aid solicitors once a final order has been made.( i belive as this is what i was told and this is what i ended up doing after a S**T solictitor). Take a step back and really think not just about now but for the future years ahead, do you reaaly want to be hear in this situation until your child reaches 16. Do whats in the best interests of the child and not what is in your or your ex bext interests your child will thank you for this later in life.

Collaborate Tue 25-Sep-12 09:37:42

FWIW you can actually change a LA solicitor. It's just that the funding rules make it deeply unattractive for a solicitor to take on a case that is part way through.

Looking at some of the recent LA my firm has been doing the hourly rate we are ending up with is close to £30. There are now fixed fees. If the value of work you actually do is 3x the fixed fee you get paid for the work that you do. If below that you get the actual fixed fee.

Most of our LA cases see us do work to the value of 2x the fixed fee. That is unsustainable even in the short term. Either solicitors will have to stop offering the service, go out of business, or do the work spending half the time on each case. That means more complaints unfortunately from clients who can't get hold of you, and think you're not spending enough time on their case.

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