My friend has a 14 year old daughter with her ex. The residence order is for shared residence, alternate weeks with each parent, the switchover point is at midday on a Monday.
There is also a condition requiring the father to keep the child's passport in his possession, but not to withhold it unreasonably (the child has a German granny and family living in Spain, all of whom are on the mother's side of the family). The passport condition was ordered because when my friend fled the abusive ex, she took her daughter and went to live in Spain.
Father is very controlling and has an alcohol problem. Daughter is afraid of challenging him directly. I was concerned, and a few months ago helped her to contact children's services where she had a few months input from the "emotional wellbeing team".
Daughter, who is very mature and level-headed, now wants the residence order varied so that Christmas is spent with alternate parents. She has spent the last 6 Christmases with her father and his new partner, because it is always in "his" week. She also wants to keep her passport herself, because he has withheld it, preventing her from spending half-term in France with her friend and their family. Their flight was at 10.00 on a Monday, and therefore technically in "his" time.
Mum is disabled following a cerebral bleed and has some memory issues, and is consequently on benefits. She has been told she cannot get legal aid to vary the order. She has already asked the ex to agree a variation, which he refused, and then asked him to go to mediation about it, but he refused (this was done by email, so can be substantiated). Father went ballistic and said that the child's wish was down to nothing more than "brainwashing" by her mother and mother's family.
Is there any way that the child can make the application via a "next friend" or similar arrangement, and qualify for legal aid that way?
If not, how complex is the paperwork? Might I be able to do it (I was a legal exec back in the 80s, but legal experience since has been limited to benefit tribunals and doing my own Form E for my divorce)?
She's such a lovely girl, I'd really like to help her in any way I can.
She can apply to the court for leave to being her own application, through a litigation friend, but at 14 she is very young to do this. Leave will only be granted if she has sufficient understanding.
This is her mum's job though, not hers. Don't encourage this child to take on her father. Mum needs to apply. Yes you can support her. C100 is pretty straightforward. Download for Mon website, court fee is £215. Mum should get an exemption as on benefits. Get on with it if you hope for a change for this Xmas.
I’d be surprised if this even needs to go to court. The dd can say to her dad (with support) actually dad I would like to do x and y this year. Dad will huff and puff and ring his solicitor who will laugh in his face I imagine. She’s 14!!!