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When can they choose?

(12 Posts)
Lala1980 Mon 10-Aug-15 21:01:05

Lots of back story but at what age (if at all) can an unhappy child choose to change which parent they live with? How does this work legally? DSD (11) wants to move in with us and now would be ideal (before she starts secondary school). Geographic distance makes shared access an impossibility. We'd love to have her (but don't want to influence) but we fear her mother would want to retain her for financial reasons as opposed to what is best for the child. Could really use some advice on legalities and how to go about things properly.

ArmfulOfRoses Mon 10-Aug-15 21:43:04

I would imagine at around 11 she would have some say, but I have no idea where you would start the process.
An application at court?

Does your dh have concerns for her safety?
Is she not being cared for appropriately?

fedupbutfine Mon 10-Aug-15 21:59:14

why does she want to move?

slkk Mon 10-Aug-15 22:15:40

I guess a court application which would involve caffcass who could talk to dsd. I don't think this would happen quickly unless you felt she was in danger and made an emergency application. Has dsd talked to mum?

mummyneedinganswers Mon 10-Aug-15 22:28:52

When my mum took my dad to court to get custody of us when we were younger they took my sisters opinion into account (she was 13 and spoke to judge in private) but I was 8 and had no say as was too young to comprehend the decision. X

Lala1980 Tue 11-Aug-15 07:55:18

The children all seem to have an extreme dislike of their new stepdad and the way he treats them. It would seem he would rather it was just him, , DH's ex and their new baby, and her existing kids are an imposition. Eldest DSS has already come to live with us - they said they couldn't cope with his special needs, however, DSS says it was a personality clash between him and his new step dad. It seemed "one in one out" with the new baby. We'd happily have them all live with us as (although home life is probably not bad enough to have them removed, and all we have is the kids stories rather than hard evidence) unfortunately (and she has openly said to us) the kids are her income and she would not make ends meet without them. I think eldest DSS was in the "3 or more" category so it didn't hurt her in the pocket particularly. I don't know enough about it to say without purely passing opinion not fact but all I would say is surely it should be about the children's best interests?

fedupbutfine Tue 11-Aug-15 10:16:35

I think eldest DSS was in the "3 or more" category so it didn't hurt her in the pocket particularly

assuming this is a reference to the new welfare policy, it isn't Law yet and hasn't kicked in. At the current time, it is still possible to claim for as many children you have living with you.

What is in the child's best interests isn't necessarily what the child wants.

For what it's worth, I strongly believe by far the majority of parents want what is best for their children. For low income households at the current time, children do represent a significant income for them. I personally don't know how I would manage financially without my children but that doesn't mean I don't want the best for them, does it? Understanding that your children bring in benefits doesn't mean that you don't love them, care for them, do your best for them, just as any non-benefit claiming parent would. Or is it only non-benefit claiming people who truly love their children?

You may have some success in court if the child concerned is able to clearly express what is going on in mum's house with the step dad and explain how it is impacting her without it sounding like she has been coached. However, you would need to be clear about what is actually happening, and that it's not some kind of spin you've put on it by reading between the lines and coming up with an interpretation that is slightly 'off'. You need to drop the money stuff - it's crass and obscures what really might be going on for this child.

ProbablyMe Tue 11-Aug-15 10:22:11

Gosh we're just going through nearly the same thing. DSD1 who is 11 has decided she wants to live with her dad, she's been thinking about this for over a year and made her final decision during a recent visit to us. As she was not subject to a Residence or Child Arrangements Order her wishes have been taken into account and she is now with us. Her mum did argue that the divorce paperwork stated that she lived with her but we pointed out that this was simply a statement of material fact at that time and not an order of the court.

It's all been stressful and upsetting for everyone but hopefully we will all move forward now.

ProbablyMe Tue 11-Aug-15 10:26:40

Just to add that we've been acutely aware that we didn't want to influence her decision - we had to leave it to her to decide. We've answered her questions about what would happen, schools etc but we also made sure we discussed negative aspects too - moving away from friends etc. I don't think either party should try and influence a child's decision - something we are aware of as DSD will be going to stay with her mum for a few days next week and had stated her intention to change her daughter's mind. Currently worried she will spirit her away! If she does this however her DD will never trust her again so I hope she thinks hard!

ArmfulOfRoses Tue 11-Aug-15 13:01:04

Does your eldest dss go for contact with his DM?
How does dd feel about having contact when presumably she would be with her sf for more time if it's in holidays?
What does the 'personality clash' look like in reality?
Is it more him being strict on bedtimes/homework/screentime when these things aren't an everyday reality at yours if they're with you during school holidays, or is it more than that?

tribpot Tue 11-Aug-15 13:13:11

On a practical note, would you be able to get her a place at a local school before term starts in 3 or 4 weeks? Have you made inquiries?

K888 Tue 11-Aug-15 17:22:19

At least she feels that she does have a choice, and two homes where she can live. I'd have a note of caution however, if a child moves because of minor (not major) difficulties, especially if it is 'against' a new step parent, it may set up unhealthy dynamics.

I've lived with two DSDs who moved into ours because of unresolved issues with their mum, and I would say it wasn't the best move at all in the long run. It was just 'easier' in the short term. And now both DSDs have moved to their mums, and one because she was cross with me for bringing up her rude behaviour - she too cited 'personality differences' between me and her - which isn't the case. Time to really consider what is going on - difficult decision! Maybe even if she wants to be with you she should be encouraged with mum / step dad to at least attempt some kind of resolving of their issues - they will not go away because she moves... certainly not in my experience!

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