12 year old DD wants to move in with her dad(12 Posts)
12 year old wants to live with her dad (after an argument between me and her over boundaries and consequences)
we have joint parental responsibility but she has lived with me for the last 8 years (since I left him)
No court order but there is an undertaking in place (for him to return her after contact and me to let her go)
Situation acrimonious for years he has blocked my email and phone numbers and refuses to speak to me in person.
But lifted his email block this week to send a short message saying I must give him written consent for her to live with him or he will take me to court for residency.
School/children's centre etc have informally advised me to put nothing in writing,but they have no legal knowledge on this.
I am not going to fight her going (I did when she was younger and won) as she is old enough now that if we went to court they would listen to her and I feel she needs to be in control of her own decisions, plus she'll resent me more if I try and stop her and no doubt be more determined to go.
My worry is:
If I DO put into writing that she can live with him and she changes her mind after a few weeks there (highly likely, she doesn't get on with stepmum and came home last summer after only 1 week of her 3 weeks contact time),then will I have problems because I have given him permission to have her live with him? He is likely to make it as difficult as possible for her to come back to me.
If I DON'T put it into writing, and we end up in court, will I have done the wrong thing by not co-operating, therefore making the situation worse for myself and possibly having residency legally granted to him rather than just informally if I email my consent to him?
Any one know? Can't find a thing out about this online and can't afford legal advice.
Plus... I will not be able to pick her up for contact with me as it's over 100 miles away and I am not up to that journey, being inexperienced driver and exhausted with baby, so she will not get contact with me every other weekend like she does with him. Not sure how she will get any contact with me at all.
I responded to his email saying that she is under the impression that he will be bringing her back to me every 2 weeks for contact (he currently does the drive for his own contact with her) and he didn't respond to me but texted her to say he hadn't had any emails from me. I re-sent it (yes, the address is correct!) but still nothing,so I suspect he is playing games as doesn't want to admit to her/me that he won't bring her back here. There's no way he would, as took me to court a couple of years ago to try and make me do the driving (he lost).
I was wondering if I could say I give my permission for her to stay with him for one school term and then review the situation, to try and cover myself in some way, but have no idea what that would be worth?
If I don't give my permission we will definitely end up in court.
What would your DD do if you told her that you will need to go to court to get it all sorted?
Do you know why she wants to live with him now? New baby, maybe?
Ignore him for the moment, are you sure she wants to go and isn't just throwing a bit of a tanty because she is feeling pissed off about the boundaries issue?
Can she get some support from the school counsellor, or similar? Someone who will listen to her that she can trust is only there for her?
My understanding is that he doesn't need anything in writing in order for her to live with him if there's no court order and he has PR - he could simply keep her after contact and let you know that that's what's happening. You'd then need to apply to court to get her back. At 12 they'd listen to her views, but I'm not sure they'd be overriding, especially if she's just had a fall out over boundaries. Her dad would need to show he could look after her on a practical level (eg not too late back from work, or away overnight for work, or can sort out childcare if he is), or a court may well order some kind of split residency.
Otherwise, what you suggest of a trial period could be good for all of you. Could you offer to share the driving? As you both want her living with you I'd suggest you offer to collect her for contact, and he picks her up to take her back.
Thanks. It started out as a kick-off response, and she told him how "mean" etc I am (ie normal parent!), which he jumped on and has been bigging up living down there.
Although she has calmed down now, she still thinks she's like to go.
Her tutor at school and school nurse have talked to her and she hasn't revealed anything other than she'd like to go.
Baby (well, he's 16 months now, but still a baby to me!) definitely put her nose out of joint for a while (around a year!) but recently she is much better with him, looks after him while I cook dinner, plays with him, and he absolutely adores her and is upset when she goes away for the weekend, so will be such a loss for him if she leaves and rarely comes back.
She'd be furious at me if I said we have to go to court (especially as her dad will tell her it's because of me not agreeing). She already has a visit booked at potential new school in just over a week and wants to move at Feb half term and will be really annoyed (again, at me!) if it gets delayed.
She's not old bough to make the decision IMO and especially not over a silly argument
She's testing your boundaries
Tell her you love her and that going to live with her father wouldn't be the right to do
Let him go to court
I honestly wouldn't give her the choice
And he sounds horrible - why would you let her go there?
I bet she's terrified really
To be honest, if I hadn't gone to live with my dad at a similar age, I would have found somewhere else (no doubt far less safe) to go.
There doesn't sound like any major reason why she shouldn't live with her dad, he wants her there, she wants to be there.. there's nothing in your post that suggest she'll be worse off with her other parent and she may be happier
As she did not want to stay for the whole of her three weeks contact why the heck does she think that she will want to live there, other than the grass is greener? perhaps aks her what she thinks has changed?
In year transfers are not so good, try for the three weeks contact in the summer holidays and if she still wants to go she can move for september.
It may need to go to court so that her dad has to bring her back for contact. otherwise you just need to practise driving.
She is definitely not old enough to make the final decision. she is old enough to have input though.
Ask her to think of what it will be like at dads. where will she do homework? who will supervise homework, how much time will she be spending with step mum and not dad?
ask her to write a list of the things she will miss in both places and the things she will will gain in both places.
has she started periods? how is she going to manage that with dad. (he might be the type that does not buy stuff, so she may have to ask step mum)
what classes activities will she have to give up on? extra curricular stuff, after school clubs?
friends? how will she keep in contact given that she will also need to spend time with you and her sibling at your house.
mobile phone contracts? electronic use?
what are the things she does not like about your house? bed times, time limits on electronics. ask her why she thinks you have those things in place. why do you have a curfew? what are the limits you have on things and how do you see those changing in the future. (eg do you expect that as she gets older she gets more fredom, and can you outline that so she has an idea of what things may turn out like, eg increased allowances for clothes etc)
what are her plans for the future career/univeristy/college? are the things you have in place things that will help her achieve those things? (ds is 7 and is beginning to get an understanding that he needs to work hard if he is going to get a job that gives him the money he wants so a 12 year old should be able to make those connections)
how is she going to learn to live as an adult? who will teach her to cook and budget? who will teach her how to work hard to get what she wants?
either she is grown up enough to consider all these things about moving or she is not yet and you will revisit in a years time, or for september etc.
has she considered she may lose her school place and not be able to fit back in with her friends if it all goes pear shaped?
Thanks for all the replies:
I'm not going to let it go to court. It seems pointless because firstly, she's at an age where the courts listen to children's wishes, and she is set on going, secondly, putting up resistance to it will make her more determined to go and worsen our relationship. At least if she goes now she has time to either settle in there or change her mind and settle in back home before the GCSE years start.
Usually, she doesn't think it's all that great there, apart from seeing her dad and being allowed to have the cats sleep on her bed all night (which results in flea bites!) and having no limits on screen time (she is allowed to stay in her room and play on her kindle/phone all day), so not sure what the appeal is, but it's clearly been sold to her. I think she's at an age where she needs to realise for herself that the grass isn't greener, which she doesn't see right now as she's only there for weekends and holidays, so no chores/school/routines etc.
When I try and discuss it with her and say I'd like to know what the reasons are, I get "you don't understand". When I explain that I can't understand if she doesn't talk to me about it, this is taken as further proof that I clearly don't understand (!).
The questions mentioned above are all valid, but she doesn't want to discuss them.
I would have thought periods would be a factor that put her off, as she won't want to talk to step-mum about it if they're not getting on and her dad humiliated her a couple of years ago by walking her up and down the supermarket aisle and discussing products and flow rates with her, then sending me an arsey email about how I'd neglected talking to her about it and he'd had to do it (which is rubbish, I've always been open about it, answered questions as they've come up and given a good book which we've looked at together when she was ready), then bought her a packet in front of her brother (a toddler, but still embarrassed her).
One of my rules here is limiting screen time and I'm not even that strict on it, but she wants to be on computer or phone all day, and is allowed to there.
Homework, I leave up to her, as she has consequences at school (ie detention) if she doesn't do it and this has proved more effective than me battling her over it, and is never a problem. She does well academically.
I do also expect her to help with one small housework chore a day (eg empty dishwasher) for which she earns her pocket money. But she seems to feel that being asked to do anything is a major injustice. She doesn't have to do anything at his.
Clothes allowance is a tricky topic, she has sensory issues so it's very hard to find anything she's comfortable in, but on the plus side that means she's not interested in keeping up with fashions etc and has a small wardrobe.
I'm doing my best to try and prepare her for being an adult - encouraging her to take small responsibilites a bit at a time, but she would rather have everything done for her, so it is an issue here, but not there, where she is left to her own devices. This may well change and come as a shock to her if she lives there full time!
The thing is, that having holiday contact and being there all the time is vastly different. Does the stepmum even know about this? I expect she will be left dealing with most of your dds needs and no doubt your dd will kick off there at some point. Because she's 12. And if your ex starts doing the Disney dad crap it's going to cause huge issues with his partner and any other dc in the house.
I'd let her go but put it in writing that you want contact every two weeks with him doing the travel.
Thanks for all the comments, I had some advice from CORAM legal helpline today which helped me plan how to handle this and clarified my legal position.
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