Advice on Child Custody Battle...(29 Posts)
My friend recently left her XP for a man she had met on the internet, taking their DS (4 yrs old) with her. She moved from their family home in Bucks to Manchester (where net man has a one bed flat). When she got back in contact with XP, he asked to have their DS for a few nights. However, when his time was up he refused to allow DS to return to Manchester and the following day she was issued with court proceedings, fighting for sole custody of DS.
She provided a sick note for the first hearing and temporary residential custody was granted to XP. That was 6 weeks ago and since the hearing is next week.
It is 8 weeks since XP refused to return DS to her and she has made no effort to contact, see or gain any access to DS. She hasnt even made a phone call to XP.
XP, however, has enrolled DS back into the specialist playschool she took him out of without informing them when she left for Manchester. He has also arranged speech therapy sessions and such for him on weekly basis. He has ensured he stays in contact with his friends and also with her family, i.e. DSS Grandma and Grandad on her side.
XP works and friend doesnt, her net BF isnt working either. Theyre using the money she gets from benefits and child disability benefits to live off for the time being.
I would say in the interest of the child, he absolutely should stay with XP. However, with her being his mother, does this have any dominance anymore?
Family courts are heavily in favour of what they view as the best interests of the child, and the parents then have to manage contact and residency based on the judgment. (Regardless of how difficult or unfair it may seem.)
Your friend has done herself no favours by non attendance at the first hearing and having no contact with the child since. My feeling is, that XP has ensured contact with the child's friends and relatives, provided continuity of care with the same playschool, arranged speech therapy, and presumably a familiar home and financial provision. It would be a very great shame if he were not awarded full residency, especially as he has temporary residency now. The mother will have to provide evidence that she can provide, and that newP is not a danger, home environment is satisfactory, special needs catered for etc.
If XP gets full residency, he will be the claimant for the childs benefits. If the child is resident with him for more than a certain amount of time, the mother may have to pay back the benefits she claimed over what she was entitled to. But as the child is so young the court will make a contact order if contact cannot be agreed between the parents. Long distance contact is a real PITA, as it involves a lot of travel and overnight stays, and the risk of abduction. Of course, this is a two - way street; the mother will have to travel to see the child as well as the XP taking the child there. But frankly, court orders are open to abuse, unless one or other parent makes a formal complaint to the court about the others non attendance at an agreed contact, there isn't much they can do.
Thank you for the advice, it's really helpful. Have read it to her. She needs to wake up and realise exactly what is happening.
Of course your friend should have legal representation, i.e. a solicitor. Agreements can be made between herself and XP at the hearing before they go before the judge, and the solicitors can present them. The solicitors are the intermediaries between the parties. If there is agreement a contact order may not be formally made. This will mean greater flexibility in type and duration of contact, and when it takes place; not tied to particular arrangements. Frankly, this would be better for the XP if he is awarded residency, and the child.
It really could go either way in court, unless something is known about the new bloke, such as previous convictions, drug or alcohol abuse, violence, etc, anything that may pose a risk to the child.
Am I right in thinking the childs parents are not married, as you used the term ex partner? I don't know whether this makes a difference to a court. I get the impression from your post you're not happy with the decisions your friend has made so far.
I am not a big fan of family courts, having seen my friend lose thousands of pounds fighting her EXH for residency of their DS2, who actually wanted to stay with his mum. Lots of heartache, stress, and loss of money that would have been better spent on the child.
As this is their first hearing, will any decision be made at this time or is simply to allow both parents to attempt to come to some agreement first before it actually goes to court - or is this where the custody decision will be made?
Thanks btw, you've been a big help.
From exp the solicitors will talk to each other, compare what each side wants etc, then talk to their own clients and see if an agreement can be made.The solicitors will tell the judge if all parties agree and he will make the order. If not it will go before the judge who can make a temporary or permanent order after hearing the solicitors. HTH
It is possible that another hearing may be called for if the parents cannot agree about where the child should live and with whom. The child will remain where he is unless an order is made to the contrary. The judge may wish for more detailed information/ home visits before a pronouncement is formally made, which boils down to where the child is best off living, and where all their needs are met. Some very searching and personal questions will be asked.
Do let us know the outcome. I hope the little one is ok.
Will do, the hearing is on Thurs so I'll update when I know more. Thanks for your help and advice. She's got her arse in gear a bit now but it's quite frustrating that she's having to be pushed into making an effort. Just feel like screaming at her "Do you understand what you're fighting for here?" Grr! Just feel if it was my child, I'd move heaven and earth to have him!
Anyway, will keep you posted.
On whatyou have said i would say it is highly unlikely that she will get full custody of the child unless she can prove that the father is somehow incapable of adequatly caring for their son.
I would also say that from the information you have given he should stay where he is until she wakes up and realises she is a mother and has a repsonsibility to her child!
DOes she actually want residential custody of the child? It certainly sounds like the child would be better off with the father. And obviously we don't know the full story here, but it doesn't sound as though she is particularly keen to fight for custody. Maybe she would be happier, too, if the child lived full time with her XP: if that's the case, then is there any need to fight about it? Are you sure you are not projecting your ideas of how a mother 'should' feel onto her?
Gotta agree with sgb. It doesn't sound to me like she wants residence.
Sometimes children are better with their fathers and the mothers know it but feel obliged to say what they think people want to hear.
BIG day today. Will let you know how it goes. I have to say though since spelling out the reality to her, she has FINALLY got her arse in gear - just hope it wasn't too little too late.
what's she doing with the child's benefits if the child isn't residing with her?
Does she want the child or does she want the money that comes with the child? Sometimes living with mum isn't the best thing for a child.
It just seems like you've pushed her into doing this because of your own feelings that a child should be with its mother - but is she REALLY the better parent? Will the child be better off with her? Really? Or would it have been better to stay quiet and let the father proceed? Is she fighting now because she realises the money will go away?
What a selfish cow.
Sorry but if this was a man who had left his dp for some woman he'd met on the internet and hadn't bothered to make contact with his child for 6 weeks then he would have been branded a bastard by now. So IMO the same applies to her.
If she can't be bothered to make contact with her own child then she doesn't deserve to be the one he lives with.
Clearly the child is better off with his father and I hope the courts give him custody.
Wannabe, I agree with you. It makes me so sad that someone wouldn't move heaven and earth to be with their child. If I was her, I'd be camped in XP's front garden if that meant I got to see my child.
From what I can understand, she does want him but she's in this world where she thinks we are the unreasonable ones for suggesting she won't get him. She genuinely believes the mother gets the child.
I think this case will be a great test to the system.
She got him.
What a load of bollocks this country is!
Oh dear, I was afraid that might happen. It truly is a lottery in family courts, whether the judge on the day is a man or woman, whether they prefer to make a point and stick up for the father, or whether they always choose the mother. Now you know why I don't like them. Some judges will always give residency to the mother of a young child, unless there has been actual cruelty. Has the father got a contact order? As he is working, I expect it will be down to him to do all the travelling to see his son because he can 'afford to'. The poor guy must be devastated.
Lets hope the new relationship isn't damaging to the little boy in any way. Maybe it won't last?
They have another hearing in 3 months to discuss how much involvement XP will have. Shocking!
Is this really your friend you are discussing? Or is it actually your partner's x or something? You seem to be judging her as though she were a stranger, and you don't mind if people call her a selfish cow.
She loves her son, she wants him with her. Maybe he is better off with his father, but the father didn't return him when he should have done so.
What an odd thread.
She's my colleagues daughter. I don't mind what people call her because I cannot believe a mother could be so careless when ti comes to their child.
A colleague, not a friend, that you're still in contact with, despite her having moved from bucks to manchester?
but she's a selfish cow.
She (according to op) ran off with a man she met over the internet.
If this had been a man there would be cries of bastard and "he should have been concentrating on his current relationship rather than shagging around" and "he obviously couldn't keep his dick in his pants" and and and and and.
Why should it be any different just because it's a woman.
She shagged around. She should have kept her knickers on but she didn't.
Maybe the father shouldn't have kept the child but maybe he didn't want the child to be confused by coming out of one house where mummy and daddy shared a bed into another where mummy and mr syber shag were sharing a bed, overnight.
I don't know of any woman in the world who would be happy for their children to immediately be staying with xp and new partner who they had ended the relationship for.
And given she made no effort to contact her child in six weeks she doesn't exactly come across the caring type.
Blatant double standard
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