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Residence order(9 Posts)
DP and his exw have been divorced for 7 years. They have pretty much shared access of their two DSs (12 & 9) since then. Up until September he always had them 2 nights during the week, and every other Friday - Sunday.
He moved further from their school a year ago and this arrangement continued to be in place until exw decided during the summer that this was too tiring for them and he would not be having them for the 2 school nights anymore, just collecting them from school, taking them to their activities and dropping them off around 9pm. Gradually they have stopped spending as many weekends here due to arrangements exw has made.
She has now applied for a residency order stating that he took the DSs away for the night during the Christmas holidays against her wishes and since the birth of our son he barely sees them anymore. DP isn't sure what its all about and is very much of the 'I've got nothing to worry about as its all untrue' mindset. I'm a bit concerned however about what a residence order actually means for him. I doubt she will reduce access, arrangements are already in place for the to stay with us this week and for half of the school holidays. So without using a residency order to reduce access, what can she be doing it for? She is in complete control of when DP has them as it is, although if there are times that they want to stay here a bit later then he lets them.
Since relations have become strained I'm just a bit dubious as to what she's actually trying to gain from this.
Control - or even more than she has already? Only you and your DP know his ex - maybe some one has been whispering in her ear but it does seem strange if arrangements have been working until now why sh would want to involve the courts. They tend to go with the status quo so as long as you can document the times the kids have been with you, could be something simple as a diary(which maybe you should start keeping just in case). It really wouldnt make sense for to go the court route. The only concern you should have is if she's trying to manipulate the kids...
Yes, we thought it was another way of asserting her control over the situation. It just seems an odd way to go.
Trying to second guess someone else's motivation is a recipe for disaster and it is more constructive to focus on the child related issues raised in court proceedings. The courts shouldn't make an order unless it makes things better for children and the outcome of a fair number of residence applications is shared residence. Even with a residence/contact order both parents have equal Parental Responsibility and the time she must make the children available for contact will be defined.
Would it be better for DP to have a solicitor?
It can certainly help your partner having advice where he stands and what options there are in his circumstances. A solicitor can also negotiate and litigate on his behalf. However if he can't afford legal fees for representation and is prepared to do some research and preparation of documents he can then at least represent himself from an informed position.
I would strongly advise you look at the Custody Minefield site, particularly the section relating to Residence:
From what you have said she doesn't have grounds for such an order. The main difference is that someone holding one will be able to take a child out of the country for up to a month without your DP's permission - while he (as the non-residence parent) would need hers.
Very often however when one parent (usually a mother) makes an application for this it is an attempt to assert their authority (and granted on the courts that it makes `Mum feel more secure).
As STIDW it has no bearing on contact or most decisions in a child's life (which are conferred by Parental Responsibility and not a Residence Order).
I suggest that your DP contact Families Need Fathers - a parenting organisation that works to enable both parents stay in their childrens' lives following separation. If it does end up in court he should consider contacting a McKenzie Friend (they are not part of any organisation but he'll be able to speak to such people if he meets others in the same situation). Although a McKenzie Friend cannot conduct litigation and doesn't have automatic rights of audience the good ones can help you with most of the business involved in running your own case (I have personal experience of this - having been advised by legal professionals that there was nothing to be done if my son's mother was determined to stop contact I went on to run my own case. My son is now with me 40% of the time. Without a McKenzie Friend this would have never have been possible and now it is something I do too for people who can't afford or don't want to use a lawyer).
To sum up however I would ignore her threats about a Residence Order. They're meaningless and have no bearing on contact.
She sounds like a controlling ex though!
Thanks for your replies. It went to court today and no order was granted. The judge refused to grant one 'just for the applicant's own peace of mind'.
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