John Doe
Family Lawyer

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Q.

I am currently going through a divorce and my Daughters Father was ordered at court to carry out indirect contact in the form of letter or card every fortnight. He has not adhered to this and in the space of 24 weeks we have only had 3 letters. In this time he has moved in with his girlfriend, got engaged and they are now expecting a baby. He has had enough time to do all of that, yet, not write a letter. The content of said letters are misleading which I feel is inappropriate. I am also due
to visit the contact centre before their supported contact takes place within the next few weeks. Am I able to take him back to court for breach of the court order and postpone access until the indirect contact has been carried out as the order stated? My point being that he has not proved  himself indirectly in the first instance, therefore is not committed to physical contact.

A.

The short answer is yes you can. The indirect contact was ordered to allow a relationship to be built up to move towards contact at a contact centre. The fact that it hasn't taken place and when it has the letters have not been appropriate is relevant to the commitment shown by your former partner. You need to make your application asap to ensure you get a hearing date as soon as possible because of the planned move to supported contact"

Kind regards

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart

Q.

What do I do if mother refuses to hand over child even though I have a court order.

A.

If you have a court order and the mother refuses to hand over the child, you need to point out that she is breaking a court order and if she still refuses, you need to consider applying to the court for enforcement of the order. The court has the power to enforce the order by ordering her to do unpaid work or even fining her. Alternatively you could apply for a penal notice to be attached to the order which will state that if she does not comply with the order she could be sent to prison.

I would suggest that it is important to find out the reason why she may not comply with the order and see if you can resolve the problem before applying to the court. Before taking court action I would strongly recommend that you seek legal advice.

Good luck!

Lucy Cohen - Partner

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

Hi. I am a 31 year old. My parents were divorced in 1994. Their  property was not shared between them. My mother was only given a part of my fathers pension of which was 10 years.My parents had verbally agreed  that my father would be given the entire property provided that it will always be mine. Now my father remarried in 1998. I was never given a share of the property and it seems like my fathers new wife has no intention of giving me any part of it. I am the only biological child of both my parents. What are my rights now? Can I get my share?

A.

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately if the agreement was not recorded anywhere then there may be no record of it. In addition, unless the agreement was recorded in a deed or other contract then it is likely to be unenforceable. If your mother reached the agreement to leave the house with your father because it was intended that it would then come to you, if your father has not upheld that part of the agreement then it may be possible for her to put a claim in for a final order in relation to their divorce, but only if she has not remarried and no final order was made at the time.

However, due to the passage of time it is likely that the agreement will not be enforceable and the court would not look favourably on a new application by your mother. Sorry I can't give you more positive advice.

Lucy Cohen - Partner

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

To be brief I took my ex to court as she wanted to move my son froma specialist  school to a mainstream inclusion. I put in prohibitle steps - but a dialogue between my ex and the old school was produced to show she had ticked all the boxes. I have since discovered that this dialogue was fabricated to order and back dated to appear robust. She used an old email account I set up and still had access to (my email was the 2ndary backup accout) - I just need to know what I can do to redress this? And if I am at all culpable for reading and recording the dialogue.

A.

Thank you for your query. My first question must be what your son's statement of special educational needs states and what school the education authority believes is able to meet your son's needs.

I presume your son must have special educational needs as a result of attending a specialist school rather than mainstream. I would suggest that rather than raising this issue through the family courts, it needs to be dealt with through the education department dealing with special educational needs in your area. If your son has a statement then although you and the mother must be asked for the preference of school, it is the educational department that make the final decision based on the resources available and the needs of your child. I would suggest that you ask for a meeting with the educational officer to find out more about the process and how the current placement was chosen. You should also ask to see a copy of the statement of special educational needs. If you believe that his current school is not able to meet the child's needs than you may need to formally raise this by asking for a review of his statement. You may also want to seek the assistance of your local parent partnership organisation that will be able to give you more detailed advice. In relation to the mother producing false emails to the court, you are not culpable at all, even if you read the emails. There is obviously an issue of possible perjury if your wife gave this information under oath but in reality there is little that the court will do to rectify this matter, particularly as it sounds like this is actually a matter of education law rather than family law.

Lucy Cohen - Partner

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

I'm in the process of trying to re-negotiate our divorce agreement that was made over 5 years ago. I'm asking for half way  meets and a drop in the spousal as my ex has a part time job job now and had 5 years to re-train and the children are at school full time. She has agreed to spousal drop as I can't afford it based on my realistic earnings and she's fit to work and children are at school now. I do every other weekend with the children and 15 days holiday a year. I work 50 hours a week. She keeps trying to change the half ways meets. I've ended up agreeing to half way meets on the Friday only and now she wants this to be capped to allow her 5 meets on the Friday where I pick up from hers. The Sundays is me dropping off all the time and it's a 2 hour journey there and  back. I Will a court get her to meet me half way for both pick up and drop offs off's. I've tried negotiating but she's just pushing for more and mediation  hasn't helped either.

A.

I'm afraid there is no easy answer to this.  The court will look into the journey by taking into account the impact on the children such as an early start or late travelling, the costs to both of you, the interruption in quality contact time and the overall impact on each of you.  Your ex needs to make the children available for contact and that includes a certain amount of facilitating.  In my view, a relevant factor would also be whether one of you is responsible for the distance.  If your ex moved away in order to make contact difficult, that would be a major factor in ordering her to do at least half of the journey.  Equally, if you chose to move away without a good reason, the court may not sympathise with you.  I hope that helps.  That would be my approach in any event.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

I split with my ex 6 years ago and we have a 7year old son together, i have ben in contac with my son for the last 2 tears on the condition from my ex that my wife has no involvment in the arragments, my wife and i have 4 boys together and my ex is ok for them to all  meet. i am sick of the situation and my sons are asking why mummy cant go on days out with all of them. i have started court procedings and my ex stopped contact as soon as she recieved the solicitors letter, she will not agree to mediation nore dose she respond to any letter from my solicitor. could you give me a little advice and will i be granted  reasonable contact in court.

A.

Thank you for your question.  The court will look in to what is best for your son.  You say that you have been having contact with him for the past two years presumably with no issues.  Providing that there are no risks of harm to him, I don't see why your application would be refused.   That said, the most important thing is how your son feel about this.  Do you think that he wants to meet his step brothers and step mom or, would he prefer to be with you alone.  You have to look at this from his point of view and indeed the court will do the same thing.  If you are satisfied that it is also what he wants, the merits are high. 

Good luck

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

I've got a court order to see my daughter every 2 weeks an she stops overnight once a month an now my ex partner is wanting to move to Scotland with my child an i live in leeds can she move that far away when there is a court order for me to have my daughter every 2 weeks or is there a limit on how far she can go

A.

If you have parental responsibility for your child then you have a right to be consulted on all major decisions concerning your child's upbringing and the mother should not unilaterally decide to relocate your child outside England and Wales without your agreement.

The first question is therefore whether you agree to your child moving to Scotland and if not, you need to consider applying for a prohibited steps order to prevent it. Your contact order is capable of enforcement in Scotland although you would need to register in Scotland. This means that even if the mother moves with your child, she is still bound by the contact order. I would suggest that you speak to the mother and find out why she is going and what her plans are in relation to your contact. I would strongly recommend that you try mediation to discuss these matters. You need to look practically at how you can retain a close relationship with your daughter if she does move to Scotland. If you don't reach an agreement then your only option is to apply to the court for a prohibited steps order to prevent her going and/or a residence order so if the mother still intends to go, your daughter comes to live with you. However, you need to be aware that if the mother has made reasonable and practical plans for how the move to Scotland will work and has good reason for the move, the court are likely to agree for them to go.

If you would like more information about parental responsibility or the law about children you can find it by following this link:

 Lucy Cohen - Partner

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

I have recently split with my wife and staying at my brothers house, my x wife is insting i have to leagally pay half the mortgage and pay maintance, can you please give me some advice

A.

In respect of the mortgage, if you are named on the mortgage (ie it is in the joint names of you and your wife) then legally each of you are jointly and severally liable for the mortgage.  What this means is that you are each liable for 100% of the mortgage payments each month, and this does not change just because you do not live there.  You therefore need to reach an agreement with your wife as to who is going to pay the mortgage.  If your wife does not, then the mortgage company would expect you to do.

Turning to maintenance, if you have children, then you are required to pay child maintenance, unless you have 4 or more, the current rates for maintenance are 15% of your net income for 1 child, 20% of your net income for 2 children or 25% of your net income for 3 children.  Net income is your gross pay less your tax and national insurance and pension payments.  This can also be reduced by 1/7th by each night a week on average your children spend with you.

Although both of you are obliged to support each other upon marriage there is no automatic obligation to pay spousal maintenance unless an agreement has been reached for you to so, or a court order has been made. The issue is that when assessing your child maintenance, no allowance is made for the mortgage that you may be paying on a property which you have a legal interest is as a joint owner of the property. 

I would therefore suggest you calculate the child maintenance you should pay, and your wife can use this however she wants, including payment of the mortgage.  If you can afford to give her a little bit extra as a token to the mortgage that would be helpful.  It is in your interests for the mortgage to be paid, as any missed payments will effect your credit rating, and also you will want to receive your interest in the home, whatever that may be, as part of the financial settlement.

I would suggest you seek legal advice about the financial settlement both your short term and long term options as it is important that you appreciate what the possible settlement might be for you, and how you can financially move on.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

I was divorced last year. My solicitor was awful, promised much but delivered very little. Despite my many communications I cannot get an explanation for his terrible service. My now ex wife took everything of value and inherited a large sum of money whilst we were seperated, yet still married. My solicitor promised that there would be a settlement,and that we'd get a charge put on the property she spent the money on. Neither of these things materialised. Do I have any chance of getting either of those things done, and if so, how?

A.

It is difficult to give a specific response to your question as I would need more information to do so.  In general however, if you are unhappy with your solicitor, you should complain to the firm for whom your solicitor works and go through the complaints process. Each firm is required to have a named person to deal with complaints and you should have been notified about the complaints process at the outset of the matter. If that does not answer your questions, you can refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.  This can only deal with your complaint as to your level of service and will not look at perhaps the next steps you still might need to take.

To do that, you would need to see a new solicitor, ask them to look at your paperwork and advise you as to your next possible steps that you need to take.  They would look at the action taken and what you could do next, but that would depend on the stage reached and how an agreement was reached, if it was. I hope that answers your question.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

I am a grandparent with residency of 5 year ol who has lived with me for two and half years.before that she stayed at least one night a week sometimes more since she was 3 months old. Mother had not sen her since nov 2011 and made contact again in feb 2013.now she wants me to go to mediation as she wants her back. Do I have to go and if so who pays? If she goes to court who pays?

A.

Thank you for your question.  Yes do go to mediation.  You need to hear what the mother has to say and if possible work with her to deal with any past or present issues.  It may be that she wants to have more contact with her daughter and if so, mediation is a good environment for you to discuss any concerns that you may have.  Do allow her to give you reassurances and try to work together to reach an agreement that is for the benefit of your granddaughter.  If mediation is unsuccessful, she may apply to the court for a contact Order and you will pay your own costs.

Good luck

Harjit Sarang 

Best Soilictors

Q.

I am a single dad with custody for 2 boys, 14 & 16, the 16 yr old is of special needs and I am also his appointed carer, My daughter age 18 studies & works part time and lives in 2 bed flat social housing with her mum (mum has Bi-polar but does voluntary work) while i remain in the matrimonial home which is also adapted for disability. I also have 2 BTL properties, total equity in all 3 properties is £100K, my solicitor rekons if this goes to court it is more likely to be split 50/50 including any pensions and I may hold and also I may have to pay spousal  maintenance? is this possible?

A.

Both you and your wife have a duty of financial disclosure.  The Court cannot approve any agreement you might reach without having basic information regarding your capital, liabilities, pensions and income.

If you and your wife already have an agreement that there is to be a clean break in respect of both capital and income then there is no need to look at what both your outgoings are.  If however your wife is requesting maintenance from you then both your incomes and both of your outgoings will have to be looked at carefully to decide what the correct level of maintenance should be if any.  This is normally done by way of a list of outgoings.

You have not said in your email whether you and your wife have any agreement and if you do not then I would suggest that you try and reach an agreement by way of mediation.  Any agreement reached in mediation can then be drawn up into a legally binding document and approved by the Court.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart

 

 

Q.

I have been separated from my spouse for 3 and half yrs and my divorce is at Nisi now, do I still have to declare all my salary and what I spend my half on, after I pay all her bills and give spouse half what's left in bank, do I have to say how I spend my half?

A.

It is very hard to say what decision a Court would make at a Final Hearing.  Your solicitor, who will have all the necessary information, is best placed to be able to advise you as to what a Court may do, however the outcome of litigation is never certain.  The Court's primary concern will be that of the children and their housing. Ultimately the Court can make any decision that it thinks is fair in your particular circumstances.

Wherever possible it is best for the parties to reach an agreement rather than leaving the decision in the hands of a Judge.  Perhaps you could propose to your wife that you try and go to mediation to reach an agreement, or perhaps have a roundtable meeting.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart

Q.

Hi I have been paying too much to the CSA. They have informed me that they will back date the money owed until 1st Sept 2012, equating to £900. As I pay directly to the CSA are they liable to pay me back in full?

A.

Thank you for your question. If the CSA have taken more from you than you were assessed to pay, they should deduct it from you future payments. You may want to confirm that they agree that you have paid too much and the amount and then stop your payments until this has been accounted for.

Regard

Lucy Cohen

Williscroft & Co

 

Q.

Can my ex husband apply for and be granted a reduction to the child support he has been ordered to pay by the court, without me being contacted?

A.

Thank you for your question.  Your ex may apply for a variation of child maintenance if the Court Order is less than a year old and there is nothing in the order preventing him from doing so.  Can he do it without you being contacted?  No.  You will be sent a copy of the application by the court and a notice of the Hearing date. You need to make sure that he has an up to date postal address for you.  You will be given an opportunity to respond to his application.  If the order is over a year old, it will be dealt with by the CSA unless the child support provision in the court order was a 'top up' because your ex earns more than the maximum income stated by the child support regulations.  If that is the case, the court will deal with variation. 

I hope that helps.

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

I am representing myself for my divorce. I am now at the stage where the first hearing has bern set. I have to complete the financial statement e. My ex's solicitor is bullying me to do this. I have asked for a copy of my ex's statement too but her solicitor says that I dont need it. What should I do?

A.

The order made by court that sets the first hearing should give a date when you and your wife are due to exchange the Form E's with each other and file at court. I would advise you to get your Form E ready by that date and then call the solicitors to tell them that you are ready to exchange. If they refuse to provide you with a copy of her Form E, I would file yours at court and write a letter to the Judge confirming that this has not been exchanged with the other party because they refuse to provide you with a copy of theirs. You should also send a copy of this letter to your wife's solicitors.

Regards,

Lucy Cohen - Partner

Williscroft & Co

Q.

this year i successfully took out a prohibitive steps order to stop my ex from moving abroad with my daughter, since then we have compromised and I'm allowing my daughter to go. I now want to take mydaughter on holiday and I have her mothers consent in writing, is  there anything else i need to do?

A.

I am assuming that both you and your former partner have parental responsibility for you daughter, and therefore unless there is a residence order in force, you both have to provide your consent to your daughter going abroad on holiday or going to live (as you have done). If there is a residence order in force, then person with the residence order can take their child abroad for a holiday for up to 4 weeks a year without the other's parent's consent. As you have written consent from your daughter's mother, you have permission to take her on holiday and there is nothing further that you need to do.  I would however suggest that you do take the written permission with you on holiday should there be any issues about whether you have the mother's consent.

I hope that answers your query.

Kind regards,

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

I am separated due to domestic violence and have a son of 10 years and a daughter of 7 months I was not on benifits when I was with my husband, I didn't get maternity grant as well coz I didnt know about it but now I dont have baby cot or seat , no pram and even I cant afford the food, I just get 20£ loan every week till I get my income support as they have applied for me.they have applied for housing benefit as well but I dont know what kind of house am I entitled for and how will I find it. Can I claim anything from my husband during divorce? 

I want to know what benifits I can apply for and how? I am receiving 13.40 £ for my daughter only as she was my husband's 5th child but mine first so can I increase her benifit? My son is not receiving anything so can I apply for him as I was not allowed from my husband to apply for my 10 years boy as he is not the father of him. ...

A.

Thank you for your question.  I am sorry to read about what you have been through.  I hope that you have found some support.  Yes you can apply for child support from the father of each child.  Please take a look at this link here.  Also, please take a look at the following site for details about the benefits that you may be entitled to here.

In terms of further financial support, please note that your husband has a duty to maintain you financially if e has the disposable income to do so.  When you instruct a solicitor to deal with your divorce, you may ask for further information about this.  They should get some basic details about your needs and his income then, advise you whether it is worth making an application to the court.  Do also remember to get advice on how to protect yourself from the risk of further harm from him.

Good luck

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

My Son is 11 and has won a place with support from both parents at one of the best Grammar schools in the country "Bishop Wordsworth" Salisbury. He was going till April, when my ex wife decided that she would bring her plans forward to live with her partner in the IoW. She organised to take my son and daughter (9) to see local schools. Because my son won his place at Grammar he can have an exceptional education without  the unaffordable expense of independent school. I vehemently want Tom to get the best education, whereas she wants him to go to an  independent school with his sister on the IoW at cost of £24,000 a year. She has agreed to pay these fees if I give my consent, but applied conditions. i.e. I cannot live on the IoW. With this condition in place I simply wont give my consent. Not sure where I stand legally? She has told the Grammar  school that she does not give consent for him to go to the Grammar school! Is there a way forward?

A.

Thank you for your question.  Congratulations you clearly have a very bright son ;) You may try mediation services to agree on the schools but I suspect that there is no time for this.  You have the option of applying to the court for either a prohibited steps order to prevent her removing your son or, a specific issues order stating which school he should attend.  The court will consider many factors all of which centre around what is in the best interests of your son.  Of relevance would be where his main carer resides, your relationship with him and the logistics of getting him to school.  If his mother and sister live in the IoW is it really a possibility for him to attend this school?  Is there a chance that he will reside with you?  The condition that you do not live close to your son is unusual and I'm not sure why that request has been made.  You need to weigh up which school is best for him taking all factors into consideration.  If you still conclude that it is "Bishop Wordsworth" consider an application to the court.  I hope you can work this out between you.

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

My husband got divorced from his wife nearly 5 years ago and he has two children now aged 11 and 13. My husband and I got married about two and a half years ago. My husband lost his corporate job in 2006 and after that has been self employed and as a result his earnings had a significant step down since then. However, apparently during the divorce, calculations seem to have been made on when he used to have a corporate job and his earning potential rather than actuals from when he had become self employed. Shortly after we got married, my husband had to have an emergency heart surgery at the age of 43 and now has been diagnosed to be a diabetic as well and is also suffering from some unavoidable side effects of all of the medication he is having to take. Due to these circumstances, his ability to earn has been limited considerably. He and I (I am working too) are struggling to cope with the settlement terms where he was to pay for half of the school fees for both children, which now works out to about £20,000 a year. When the maintenance to the mother is added, this works out to about £26,000 of direct costs other than of courses costs when they are with us which is for 1/3rd of the time. In the scheme of principal of fairness, something doesn't seem right because while this may have been something my husband could afford previously, with his health problems, it is no longer feasible. In the last six months, I've had to sell all of my jewellery and so many things around the house to make ends meet. How would it be viewed by the courts if we were to attempt to try and revisit this commitment about school fees payment? Since my husband's ex-wife has high earnings and has the capacity (and did previously) of hiring the best legal team out there, my husband is anxious that this will cause us more grief. But the situation right now is getting close to untenable since we are finding it hard to even have regular bills covered with this situation. Thanks,

A.

Maintenance is always variable as circumstances may change.  Your husband could approach his ex-partner and explain his new circumstances and ask for her agreement to reduce the maintenance to an affordable level.  If she doesn't agree then your husband will have to make an application to Court to vary the maintenance.  The procedure for this application is exactly the same as the procedure for the original financial proceedings being financial disclosure using a Form E, a First Appointment, a Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment and if necessary a final hearing.

Whilst your husband's former wife might be able to afford extremely good lawyers if a Court makes a decision it will be based on the fairness of the situation and if you are able to demonstrate to a Court that your husband simply doesn't have the income to support that level of maintenance payments then the Court will vary the Order downwards. If you do not believe you are able to afford legal advice then your husband could represent himself at Court.  With the removal of legal aid the courts will be becoming more and more used to litigants in person.

Alternatively you can consider hiring a direct access barrister for a final hearing if you wish to do so and represent yourself until that point.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart

Q.

I split from my wife when my son was two. We were married when he was born in 2002. He is now 11 and about to attend secondary school in September. The school will not give me information on my son and details of events etc. My ex has not given my details to the school. Can she do this to me. I thought I had parental responsibility. Can I complain to the school as I have noticed this information is in department of education documents that they should give me information and information of me trips and get my permission.

A.

As you were married to the child's mother you will automatically have parental responsibility for your son.  I am very surprised the school will not give you information regarding your son's events.  I think you should complain to the school and ask to see their policy in respect of non-resident parents.  You should inform the school that you do have parental responsibility by virtue of being married to the mother and that if they do not keep you fully informed of all relevant matters then you will need to take your complaint to the school governors and if necessary to the Education Ombudsman. I hope that helps.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart

Q.

Since my girls were toddlers I have had to fight my ex wife and her partner to try and stay a part of the lives. I have had many court battles in the Brisbane family law courts. Both my wife and her partner practice parent alienation. I have court orders in place and although my girls had to pretend they did not like me. When they visited me they showed lots of love and affection and we had a good relationship despite  the pressure they were under from their mother and partner. The girls and now 15 and 13 and 4 years ago I had to return to England as my father was dying with cancer and I explained that they could visit and I would pay and that I loved them and if they wanted to come with me I would try to get permission from the courts. I told them I would call 3 times a week. A few weeks after I returned to England my eldest girl told me she did not want to talk to me any more. I tried on numerous occasions after but the phone number just rang out or it was put down. I tried social network sites but was unsuccessful. Since returning to Australia. I contacted their mother and requested to see them. I told her I don't want to go back to court I just want to see the girls and find out how they feel about contact with me. I then received a phone call from my eldest girl telling me she does not want to see me and stay out of her and everyones life was unable to say anything I could not speak with my youngest daughter and then she put the phone down. The phone was a private number and the only way I was able to contact my ex wife was with the telephone number of the business she runs. I know my wife and her partner would do anything to stop me seeing them. I just wondered if there is anywhere I can go from  here?

A.

Unfortunately I cannot advice you on your options because you would have to deal with this matter through the legal system in Australia. I would suggest you see a lawyer in Australia to discuss what you can do.

 Lucy Cohen

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

I separated from my wife oct 2012. At the time we were in a rented property and had tenants in the house we owned. At her request I served notice on our tenants and returned to the marital home. It was agreed that I would seek to take on the mortgage and buy her out or put the house on the market and split what little equity remained 50/50. As we have children I need the equity in the house to enable me to place a deposit on a new house to enable me to have my children. After various meetings with multiple lenders it was discovered that I don't earn enough on my own and there isn't enough equity in the house for a lender to allow me to mortgage the house and pay her off. So as agreed the house was placed for sale. There have been offers made however the offers do not cover the mortgage. Fees and give either of us any money afterwards, this means if I accept I am homeless. She has told me she won't let me have my children if I house share until I can raise a deposit, or at a bed sit or hostel, I'm struggling financially as it is as I have been left with debts she obtained during our marriage, car finance and credit cards taken in my name as my credit score was stronger than hers, but only affordable between us with our joint wage. She is now threatening to take me to court and force the house to be sold at auction because she feels I'm delaying the sale. She has already secured a home thanks to her family I have no such support and reliant on any proceeds from the sale of our house to be able to provide a secure home for our children.

I can't afford legal fees so would need to represent myself, how likely is it she would successfully force the house to be sold, potentially at a loss if this made me homeless and unable to see my children?

A.

Hi

 

Thank you for your question.  The court would need to look at your financial resources and needs and those of your ex.  It is not clear from your e-mail what those needs and resources are.  Renting a property rather than owning one should not make a difference to the amount of contact you have unless you are renting in a shared house where overnight stays are not a possibility.  Whether or not the house should be sold depends on many factors including how much equity is available, how much she requires the equity, your ability to maintain the property etc.  It may be possible for you to secure a fixed fee session with a solicitor to go through your financial details and give an indication of settlement options.  You could also try mediation services.  You would both attend and disclose financial needs and resources.  the mediator will then work with you to try and get a settlement agreed.

Good luck

Harjit Sarang 

Best Solicitors

Q.

how to go on about seeing my child I cant get legal aid as i have been for advise from a solicitor and they said i could get it if  domestic violence was involved and cant afford to pay for a solicitor she is having me go to meet her but she doesn't turn up she has arranged me to see her on every Monday and every Wednesday and have her alternative Fridays but she fails to show up unless I got money.

A.

You can make an application to the court for a contact order using a form C100 which is available from the court office or the court service website.  There is a fee to be paid of £215 to make the application (this is the new fee as from the 1st July 2013) and if you do not think you should pay court fees you can apply for fee remission and the court will assess, based on the evidence of your income, whether you should pay the fee, and if so how much. As Legal Aid has changed it will become much more common for parents to make an application themselves and the court will help you with the application and process as much as it is able to.

At the first hearing, the court will try and assist both of you to reach an agreement, and if you cannot, will give directions as to what must happen or about the information needed before the court can decide what should happen by making an order as to when you should be seeing your child.

You can pay for a solicitors to give you specific pieces of advice.  For example, you could agree a fee for a solicitor to prepare the application and to be available by telephone on the date of the first hearing to answer any of your queries. Before you go to court, you should consider attending mediation to see if you and your former partner can resolve the issues.  Legal aid is still available for mediation and the mediator will assess you to see if you are financially eligible.  For this to work, both you and your former partner need to be willing to attend mediation as it is voluntary.

Contact with a child is not dependent on child maintenance payments.  It would seem that in your case these two issues are becoming mixed up which is not unusual.  I would suggest that perhaps you set up a payment of child maintenance through your bank accounts so that this does not need to be dealt with when you picking up or collecting your child? 

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

My partner has 2 children, aged 5 and 9, he is on the birth certificate of both children, however they were never married so due to the eldest being born in August rather than December he only has parental responsibility for the youngest child. His ex for the past 2 years has constantly changed the goal posts as to what he is expected, constantly denies access for silly reasons until he gives in to her demands so that he can see his children. They used to be with us every weekend and the odd occasion during the week when she couldn't find a babysitter and wanted to go out. She has stopped us taking them on holiday after she said they could go, and we had booked it. Basically uses the children as weapons. Last time she stopped contact for 3 months after an argument where she accused me of child abuse as I had apparently locked the youngest in her bedroom she accused me of all sorts a d even threatened to slice me up via texts. During that time she involved csa, so her payments doubled. This  since got resolved, and they came every weekend again. My partner didn't want to mention money/csa because she would stop contact. She had said she wanted a weekend with them, which he understood so asked that on the weekends he did have them could he have them til Monday morning and he would take them to school. She agreed but just asked he returned them to her before school. This happened for 1 weekend, but then she has sincedenied access saying he can't see them again until he agrees to 4 nights a month and to sign residency to her. Where do we stand, the children love coming and want to spend more time with their dad? It seems to me she is using the children as a weapon and the children seem scared of her. Can she legally make him sign residency and stop contact til he does? Any help is much appreciated, she won't even try to sort this and says legally even in court he will only get every other weekend and no overnights during the week he doesn't see them. All he wants is to see his children more. We have moved so were closer to them, and so that we're in walking distance of the secondary school they will attend. It just seems nothing we did is good enough and throws everything back at you she can. He doesn't want the children to be out through court, but surely 4 nights a month is not in best interests of children? Thanks

A.

It is important for the children to have a routine and not to be in the middle of any disputes between the parents. In your partner's case it appears that this is happening and the children must be upset when the contact stops and when they do not know when they are going to see their father again.

If you partner has done everything possible to try and resolve this issue amicably, then there may be no option but to apply to the court for a contact order. The Court will look at what is in the best interest of the children and this usually means regular and frequent contact with the non resident parent. There is no set formula to calculate how many days/nights contact should take place and it is often determined by the practicalities of getting the children to school and making sure that they spend quality time with both parents. I would suggest that 4 nights a month is probably too little if the children love spending time with their dad and there is no issue about his parenting skills.

In relation to the mother asking him to "sign residency", it is only possible for this to happen by her applying for a residence order. However, the law states that the court should make no order unless necessary in the interests of the children. In this case, from the information you have given me, I would say a residence order in the mother's name is not only unnecessary but would also not be in the interest of the children.

Your partner may also want to consider applying for a shared residence order which will recognise that he is the father, with equal rights to the mother and that the parents must work together to ensure the children's needs are met. The information you have provided suggests that the mother sees herself as having greater rights and is using them to the detriment of the children. Therefore, it may benefit the children to redress the balance between the parents.

It is important for your partner to ensure that he has parental responsibility for both children to recognise his legal responsibilities to the children. He can get parental responsibility by the mother signing a parental responsibility agreement or by court order. I would suggest that he raises this issue with the mother in conjunction with negotiating the contact arrangements.

If you would like further information about the law you may find this link useful.

 Lucy Cohen

Williscroft Solicitors

 

Q.

Owing to debts resulting from a divorce settlement, I hae no spare cash and cannot afford to go to court to secure contact arrangements to see my 14 yo daughter. I moved to England following my divorve and  travel monthly to see my daughter in Belfast. She has never stayed with me overnight in more than 5 years and refuses to recognise my new partner. Is there any form of support or advice I can get to secure reasonable contact, including overnight stays when I am in Belfast without going to court? I have no resources to enable me to afford this course. Thanks.

A.

Thank you for your e-mail.  I am sorry to hear about your situation.  You could try contacting a family law solicitor who is local to your ex and child for details of local mediators.   Mediation is where an independent third party will assist you and your ex reach an agreement as to what contact your daughter should be having with you in order to maintain her relationship with you.  There are several services available to assist apply to the court yourself you if mediation is not successful (Onlydads site is one of them).  In terms of the contact, you need to be led by your daughter in terms of her needs, wishes and feelings.  If you have not had contact for a while, it may be that you need to rebuild trust over several shorter contact periods.  If this goes well, the contact may be increased and some day include overnight.  As your daughter gets older, she will start making her own decisions.

I wish you all the best and hope that your daughter gets the contact she needs. 

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

I have parental responsibility as my daughter has just turned 5 and was born in may 2008 and I am named father on birth certificate.  it was agreed the other day as her mum had a hospital appointment early tomorrow I would collect her from school today and take her back  to school in morning then to receive a text on sunday saying Thursday is ok. then received a text with this response even though they were not at the school to collect her (Thanks for letting me know you was picking Abigail up from school. You are not allowed to pick her up without my permission first. If you do it again school will not allow you to take her without me knowing about it first. They only let you take her today because I told them that you may be collecting her from school today. Told them I would let them know for definite when you let me know Wednesday or Thursday which you did not do) just to clarify if they had wanted could this have been classed as abduction I need to be aware of what I could be facing as they will stop at nothing to damage the relationship with me and my daughter

A.

Thank you for your e-mail.   Collecting your child from school following a misunderstanding would not be classed as child abduction.  

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

My ex wife and i have been separated for 4 years, and have been divorced for 2, we have a private arrangement for contact regarding our children and maintenance money, not long after we separated she changed jobs which meant she would have to start at 8:30am a couple of mornings a week on various days, so i agreed to take the children to school for her on those mornings to help out, my circumstances have changed and i am not able to take them as much, she has now threatened me with a bill for child care if i can't take them would i have to pay ? CIRCUMSTANCES i have a daughter to my new partner and i have to rely on my partners mum to watch her every morning, my partner works 6-9am so she can be home for our daughter and her own children. i moved 25 miles away from my kids so when i take them to school i have to leave at 7am to get to their house for 8:15am to get them to school for 8:50am and then myself to work for 9am, i work in the same town as where my kids live.

A.

It is usual for arrangements to change as the circumstances of parents and children change over time. It is important that both parents recognise this and are willing to negotiate any changes so they are practical and meet the needs of the children.

The explanation of why you can no longer do the school run on those days seem reasonable. However, alternative arrangements do need to be made and both parents are responsible for the welfare of the children. If the only option is to use child care then you need to negotiate who is going to pay it. Usually, if the children live with one parent then they are responsible for the child care costs and the other non resident parent will pay child maintenance. Therefore, you could argue that the mother should pay the costs as the children are with her overnight. However, it is unlikely that the child maintenance money you pay will cover half of the usual costs of the children let alone contribute to the additional child care costs. It may therefore be reasonable if you offered to contribute half to the payments. However, the mother can only deal with the issue of maintenance through the CSA and they do not make provision for child care. It is worth looking at whether the mother is entitled to the child care allowance of working tax credit which may resolve this matter. I hope this has been of assistance. As always I would fully recommend attend mediation to assist you to resolve this dispute. Further information in relation to mediation can be found here.

Lucy Cohen

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

I lost my case my son was taken for adoption im heartbroken we struggled to meet the needs of our four children one was mentally disabled and development delay my other too had behaviour probkems we found hard to deal with stuggling with this the local authority filed for intrim care orders in respect of my children in October last year my older boys stayed with my peratnts and my daughter into fost care and the Oxford magistrates found my little four year old was ok at home and receive a supervision order our final hearing was in april and after an intense medical and the doctor philip murphy was very intimidating and his report was so damming we can't fight and cant get any more legal aid I sinse had another medical on nhs as a following to his and wasnt as bad justca cluster c personality wich can be worked on easily and social fobia wich is greatly improved due to faceing it as before this I didn't no what was wrong my son was doing well ive hundreds of photos of us doing activities and him looking happy clean and well looked after even his pre school had no concerns and his school said he was flurashing and they was very pleased with his progress but socal services lied and said we was struggling even though the socail worker in question said what she saw in my home was very encouraging I looked after my son and he was my whole life I was represented but a official solicitor because I didnt have capsity to give oral evidence I would of panic I was also acused of haveing low memory function wich is stupid It was cleared up in court hat was simly because when questioned I get confused but as I said I didnt foget to love my son nor cloth feef him nor take to school we enjoyed each other and was veru close sadly my partner was diagnosed with the problems in her report but I wasnt and now left devisted and with out my children to take him for adoption is totally cruel if any one can help please let me no thank you.

A.

This is clearly a very distressing and difficult time for you and it would not be appropriate for me to advice on such a complex problem without more detailed information. I would strongly suggest that you go back to your solicitor and ask her to advice you about whether it is possible to appeal the order. I am sorry that I cannot be of further assistance.

Regards,

Lucy Cohen - Partner

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

My partner and his ex wife split up 2.5 years ago and finally divorced November last year. At the time of their split their daughter was1 year old. Due to his shit at work (4 on 4 off) they both agreed at the time of separation they he would have his daughter on his 4 days off as they only lived 20 mins apart. This arrangement was agreed to during mediation last year when they divorced, now however his ex wife has lost her job and her and her new partner can no longer afford to live in their rented property and want to move 2 hours away so she can be closer to her parents. Their plan is to live with her parents rent free in their spare room until they can both fine work there. His ex has now said that he can no longer have his daughter on his 4 days off due to the amount of travelling the child would be doing, and we have been told by her that we can only have her every other weekend, which is completely impractical due to my partners shift, he will only get to see her 1 weekend every month. She announced all of this on Monday and said they will be moving in 2 weeks time and has said that if we want to see his daughter we have to come and get her and drop her off as she will not have enough money for fuel to pick her up off us. This will mean a 4 hour round trip for us. Is this allowed? She is taking her away from everything she knows, the routines she has, her friends, pre school and most importantly half of her family. My partner and his ex still own a property together which they rent out, this property is only half an hour away, surly she should be made to live there? Please help.

A.

Your partner has parental responsibility for the child and therefore major changes regarding the child's life should not be made without your partner's agreement.   Your partner will have to make an application to Court for what is known as a Prohibited Steps Order. This Order, if made by the Judge, will prohibit the child's mother from relocating with the child until the Court have had an opportunity to consider the matter further.  Your partner should also apply for a shared Residence Order at the same time.  The application to prohibit your partner's ex wife moving away can be made without notice to her.   That means your partner can go straight to Court and ask them to make an emergency order prohibiting her from moving without giving her notice.   The Court will then set down a timetable for the future progress of this case which will involve there being further Court hearings and the opportunity for there to be a report completed by a CAFCASS officer who would interview both you and your partner and the child's mother and would make recommendations to the Court. 

Your partner should seek specialist advice from the family solicitor as soon as possible as if the move goes ahead and he does not obtain the Prohibited Steps Order, then the mother would already have established that the child now lives with her and her new partner with her parents and that might well be detrimental to your partner's application to Court.

Caroline Bourne

Dawson Hart

Q.

hello I met a lady on-line, we got on happily until she fell pregnant. I never discussed having a child with her and it occurred not 3 months after we first met. The relationship deteriorated subsequently, but I remain in touch and support her and the child financially. Recently, she asked for my P60 in order to claim tax credits. Am I obliged to give it to her? My name is on the child's birth certificate as the father and I do not want the relationship to worsen - for the sake of the child.

A.

Thank you for your question.This really depends on whether you are in a subsisting relationship / living together and from what you say, you are not.  You could try calling the tax credit office and confirming your position to them.  You could reassure her that if they say that the information is needed, you will provide it to them directly?  Please bear in mind that if she approached the child maintenance agency, you may need to provide this information.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

My partner and I separated recently, she reported me as I damaged her property (mobile phone) and claimed that I hit her (which I did not). As a result I am currently awaiting a court date later in the month on a charge of common assault. At the preliminary date I was given bail conditions which state that I am allowed to contact my children through a third party at a time agreed to by my ex and when the third party has my ex's permission. My ex arranged for me to see my children, but shortly after she cancelled and has since cut off all contact with the third parties who she agreed to allow access through.

> I am currently in a difficult situation financially and cannot afford

> the £3000 I am told it will cost to pay a solicitor. What are my

> rights and how do I fight for them?

A.

The children have a right to maintain a relationship with you providing that doing so does not put them at risk of any harm.  As allegations have been made against you they will need to be investigated unless your ex withdraws them.   Mediation is an arena within which you could try to reach an agreement but I suspect that your ex may refuse to attend.  You may make an application to the court for a contact Order.  You don't have to instruct a solicitor to do this.  You could speak to Bob at Onlydads for some guidance on how to act in person.  Once your application is in court, the allegations will be investigated and a decision will be made as to contact.  It may be that the contact starts off being supervised whilst investigations take place.  The court system has delays therefore, it may take time.  In the meantime, try not to put yourself in a situation where you are alone with your ex.  It is best to try to avoid confrontation particularly in the presence of the children.  I hope that helps. 

best regards

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

I have just submitted my E financial disclosure form to my solicitor, along with my bank statements and other documents. I  wondered if you could please tell me if my partner will be shown all of my bank statements and personal documents or will their solicitor keep them and just summerise? Many Thanks

A.

All your documents which are required by Form E along with your Form E will be sent to your former partner or their solicitors and they in turn will send everything to your former partner.  Solicitors do not keep documents from their clients unless (usually) ordered to do so by a court. 

If you do not wish your address to be disclosed to your previous partner then in certain circumstances documents can be "redacted" which means certain details omitted but otherwise your former partner will see all the documentation. I hope that answers your question.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

My pregnant girl friend and her three year old son are moving in  to my house I owne. Is there any truth that if things don't work out she will be entitled to part of my property etc?and should I get her to sign a agreement saying what's mine is mine if we split

A.

It is a good idea to have a document drawn up that sets out who owns the property and whether it is intended that she will acquire any share in the property. The document required is a declaration of trust and most solicitors can prepare one for you and should charge you a fixed fee.

You should both sign the document so it records an agreement reached between you. If you do not have this document prepared, and you later separate, if she has made any financial contribution to the property then there is a risk that she may claim an interest in that property. 

Further information can be found about this area of law here: I hope that this assists you.

Lucy Cohen

Williscroft & Co

Q.

Could you please explain why the law does count only 'the staying over night' factor when calculating child maintenance? What if the children stay throughout the day and have all day-care provided by the none-residential parent but just sleep at the residential home. Shouldn't the law consider that the actual cost of care in this case are bared by the day-care parent not the one they spend the night with? Many thanks for your advice!

A.

Thank you for your question. Overnight is still 12 hours. That said, i do understand your frustration. I'm afraid that I cannot assist with the regulations that are already set.

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

I've been receiving child support for 9yrs and I'm due to Marry  in a few months. Will my ex still be liable for child support after I marry?  Or does this stop.

A.

Your marriage will not effect your entitlement to child maintenance.  Child maintenance, when assessed by the Child Support Agency, is not based on the person with care's circumstances, it is calculated based one the net income of the non resident parent and the number of children with deductions for the amount of overnight contact they have with the children and if they have any other children living with them.  If you go on the Child Support Agency website they have a maintenance calculator which you can use to calculate the correct level of child maintenance.

Of course, you and your ex can reach any agreement you wish to about the level of child maintenance, however if there is a dispute, the CSA alone have jurisdiction to deal with this and make an assessment. The Court cannot get involved unless your ex is a very high earner or in other relatively rare circumstances.

If you were married to your ex and your maintenance is made up of part child maintenance and part spousal maintenance then the spousal maintenance element will  end automatically on your remarriage.  If the child maintenance element is then less than the CSA would assess, then you should ask you ex to agree to increase the child maintenance in line with what the CSA would assess and if he does not agree, you will need to apply to the CSA for an assessment.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart

Q.

Hi I'm a dad who was battling to see the kids threw legal aid but now that has stopped due to the new laws I feel dads now have no rights who have kids most dads will need legal aid help so what actions can my self and many more can take to take women court to get to see there kids?

A.

With legal aid changing there will be many parents in your position. The law has not changed however and therefore if contact has been stopped between a parent and their child(ren) then an application to the court needs to be considered.

The first step before an application has been made if for both parents to have attempted mediation to resolve the issues.  It is important to note that legal aid is still available for mediation, and you will therefore be able to have the assistance of a solicitor through mediation.  Either the solicitor can make a referral, or you can refer yourself.

If mediation is unsuccessful, for whatever reason, then an application must be issued at the court.  Many solicitors like ourselves are offering a fixed fee packages, akin to a pay as you go system.  You can therefore pay for specific bits of help, like the drafting of the initial application on the form C100. 

Alternatively you can do this yourself and just ask a solicitor to guide you through the proceedings by them answering questions you may have at each stage of the proceedings. Ultimately if you cannot afford any help from a solicitor, then the court will assist you as much as they are able to.  The court cannot give you advice, but the Judges will be used to helping people who cannot afford representation under this new system. Most solicitors offer a free initial meeting, so your best option is to start there, and then talk to them about the fee structure they offer.

I hope that answers your query.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

I moved out after my ex sent a letter from solicitor asking me to reside at my mums untill house is sold and we will go 50/50 0n everything ,she has changed her mind now saying she is not selling can i force her to sell?

A.

The answer is however not straight forward, it will depend on a number of factors - whether you are married or not and if you are married, whether there are children in the house; and if you are not married, legally how you own the house.

If you are married, the court will look at the needs of the children above all other factors.  Therefore if the needs of the children require the house to be kept (and this is financially affordable) then a sale would not be ordered now, but rather you would wait to receive your share when the youngest child reaches 18, or if your former spouse remarries or cohabits.  This is known as a deferred sale.

If you are married, and there are no children, the court will look at the finances of you both, and unless one party can afford to buy out the other, it is likely that the house would be ordered to be sold. The court will also look at all the circumstances, and will then decide what shares each of you should have, whether that is equal shares or not.

If you are not married and you own the property jointly, then you can apply to the court to force a sale of the property under Section 14 of the Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (known as TLATA). If you own the property, it would be for your former partner to prove to the court why you should not receive 50% of the net proceeds of sale. If you are not married and you do not own the property but have an interest in it, then things are more complicated, in that you would have to prove that you had a legal interest in the property and then the court would decide what that interest was.  If your former partner could not afford to buy out your interest, then the court again would order a sale.

I would suggest that you book an appointment to see a solicitor so they can advise you as to which option applies to you, and the next steps that you need to take.

Kind regards,

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

My ex wife has said no to my taking my children on holiday with me, my finance and our 6 month old baby, my children are 15 and 13 and really want to come away with us, do we have a right to take  them or is her word final?

A.

Unless you have a Residence Order, you do need her permission to remove the children from the jurisdiction. To remove them without permission is a criminal offence (child abduction). If she will not change her mind you may apply to the court for a Specific Issues Order giving you permission to take them. You can try to do this yourself and get the forms from your local County Court. If there are no risks of harm, the merits for you are good.

Good luck.

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

According to the original court order my ex wife was responsible  for my child's medical aid (court order dated 2007). I offered to pay for  the medical aid and my daughter was on medical aid since 2010 to 10 May 2013. My child was booked for a procedure to take place on the 3rd. I was upset for not being informed, obviously worried of what was wrong, but luckily received notification from the medical aid. My ex wife has a history of hiding important information and wishes to continue with this. She contacted discovery, emailed the original court order, accessed my  information, had the child removed from my medical aid, without my permission by referring back to the original court order. My understandingis that if she wants to access my personal information she would need a  court order allowing her to do so. She requested to transfer my daughter back to her medical aid a month ago, I declined this request and she was informed by her lawyer she would not be able to remove her from my medical aid without my permission. The child act does not allow this in any event. What can I do in this regard? I would like to act against the medical service provider, and my ex who illegally accessed my information.

A.

Unfortunately there is very limited advice I can give you on this matter because any possible action you may be able to take about the disclosure of personal information is not a matter of family law.

However, if you have parental responsibility for your daughter you have a right to be consulted on all major events including medical care. I would suggest that this needs to be pointed out to the mother. It may also be appropriate for you to request a written summary of any relevant welfare issues concerning your daughter every quarter so you can ensure that you are updated in the event that she has not told you something at the time.

I am sorry that I cannot be of any further assistance.

Lucy Cohen

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

My partner separated from his wife just over 3 years ago when he found out she was having an affair. They have 2 children together- a girl aged 11 and a boy aged 5. He left the marital rented home so that she could move her new partner in. The children have their own bedrooms and there is a playroom with a sofa bed which accommodates the wife's partner's 2 sons when they come to stay. I have a 7 year old child from a previous relationship and we have an 18 month old together. We live in a 2 bedroom cottage, in the same town as his ex. When we first got together 2.5 years ago there was no structure in place for his access visits with the children. He was being used frequently as a free babysitting service whenever his wife and new partner wanted a night out. Our new relationship could not support such an arrangement and it was agreed we would have the children to stay at our's on a Friday and Saturday night every other weekend. They sleep on blow-up mattresses on my son's bedroom floor. His wife continued to ask him to have the children over night on the intervening weekends (when she should have been enjoying time with them), in order for her to go out. He was put under intense pressure to agree and made to feel guilty that he doesn't see his kids enough. Over the past year, the Sunday evening hand-overs have become more and more fraught. He  normally has to deliver the children to her in the pub at 6pm or retrieve her from the pub in order to hand the children over. She is now insisting that he has the children on Sunday nights and take them to school on Monday morning. We feel this is totally impractical,he cannot commit to  the school run as the nature of his job means that he is often on the road by 7am on a Monday morning. Also, I do not think it is in any of the children's (both his and mine) best interest to be camped on the floor on a school night. She maintains it is for the children's 'welfare' whereas we believe otherwise. She is threatening to take him to court to make him have the children more often and overnight on a Sunday. Does she have a legal right to do this? Can a judge order the non-resident parent to have the children more often? Neither of them have started any divorce  proceedings yet. Please help- we are completely at a loss what to do....

A.

Thank you for your enquiry. There are a number of issues that arise from your email. The first is whether the mother is coping with the children and whether she is providing them with an adequate level of care. If not, then dad needs to consider whether it is in their interests to stay more frequently and whether your housing could be sorted out to accommodate this.

However, if he does not believe that it is in the children's best interests to stay the additional night, then it is extremely unlikely the court would make an order forcing him to do so. The fact that the children sleep on an airbed and the fact that dad cannot commit to the school run is good reason for saying no. The court has to consider the 'Welfare Checklist' when making any orders relating to children. Further details can be found at Children Law.

I would suggest that dad considers what he believes is best for the children; bearing in mind the fact that the mother does not want them at home on Sunday nights and this may affect her level of care. He then needs to clearly tell the mother his reasons. I would suggest that this is not discussed at a contact handover were the children are present and instead they meet in a neutral place to discuss it. He may want to consider mediation to try and resolve these disputes with the mother.

Regards,

Lucy Cohen

Williscroft Solicitors

Q.

Myself and my ex wife have an order from court in place for contact with our two children. Outside her contact hours my ex is visiting school and seeing the children (at the end of the school day). I see my children outside of contact time because I take my 2 step children to the same school in the morning. Please advise thanks

A.

Thank you for contacting us. I'm not sure what your question is?  Does it cause a problem if she sees the children at school every day?  Contact Orders are often in place to ensure the minimum amount of contact takes place.  Anything over and above is fine providing that the children are not at risk of suffering harm.  Do the children enjoying seeing Mommy at the school gates? Do they enjoy seeing you when they don't expect to? Be led by their wishes and feelings..

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

Hi, I am seeking information on maintenance as part of separation and divorce process. Am I maintaining my wife? My children? A combination? Is it blame related and although I am the main wage earner is it expected my wife may have to make sacrifices or increase her work? If there is equity built up can I sacrifice equity in favour of smaller payments? We will be seeing a mediator but I would appreciate some background help.

A.

You have a duty to maintain your wife and children.  Please review the amount child maintenance at https://www.gov.uk/child-maintenance.

Once you have established how much this is, you can add it to your ex's other income resources.  At the same time you will try to agree what her earning capacity is.  If she can work without compromising the children, she should do so to try and become self sufficient.  Once you take into consideration her income, benefits and child support you then need to agree what her reasonable needs are.  If she can meet the needs on her income, benefits and child support, she will not require spouse maintenance.  If this is the case, you may want to agree that she receive a nominal maintenance figure of £1 per annum.  The purpose of this clause is to keep her maintenance claim against you 'live' until her remarriage or until the youngest child completes full time education.  She will need to keep the claim live because her income position may change and she may need to increase that £1 upwards in order to make ends meet. 

If you want to sacrifice capital in favour of no spouse maintenance payments, you may be able to do so but make sure you get legal advice to ensure that this is made clear in the court order.

I hope that helps, good luck ;)

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

Hi there do you no of any support in the liverpool area? Me and my ex partner are going through a really bad split, hes in jail and has been since the baby was born, but is due out in november and i just wondered where i stand in terms of  aranging visits as he is on the birth certificate and just expecting to be able to take the baby for weeks at a time when he gets out. As legal aid has now been cut on these cases i cant afford a solicitor and am really worried.

A.

Unfortunately you are correct that Legal Aid is now only available in limited circumstances. If you have been the victim of domestic abuse from the father then you may be able to apply for legal aid. If so, I would strongly advise you to contact a solicitor for further information about eligibility. If you are not able to get legal aid for advice then you may want to consider mediation. We have more information about mediation on our website:  http://www.williscroft.co.uk/williscroft-mediation-service.

You need to make sure that any arrangements that you make for contact are in the best interests of your child. You will need to consider whether the father has the required parenting skills to care for your baby and if not, how can you give him the opportunity to build those skills without putting your child at risk. You also should consider whether there are any risks to your baby in having contact with their father. It is generally accepted that children have an emotional need to have contact with both parents as long as it is safe. However, it would be extremely unusual for a father to take a baby for long periods, usually short periods of a couple of hours at a time, on a frequent basis, is more appropriate.

Contact can also take various forms, to include:

- Indirect contact by letters, cards and gifts;

-Supervised contact - where there is always someone supervising it

- Supported contact - where a 3rd party is keeping an eye on what is happening   but is supporting the contact rather than supervising it;

- Unsupervised contact.

In your area there will be at least one contact centre and you may wish to contact them for information about how they can help.  There is also lots of useful information on the Resolution website which you may wish to look at.

Good luck!

Lucy Cohen - Partner

Williscroft & Co

Q.

My husband claimed our two children on his taxes for the tax year 2011. He was living with his parents for approximately two years prior. He had no stated vistation with the children and had not seen them in three months prior to filing his taxes. He was paying the mortgage utilities, and car payment. Our temporary hearing occured about a month after he filed taxes. Since I was and am the custodial parent can he do that?

 

A.

Thank you for your question.  However this is a question for an accountant/tax advisor, not a solicitor, as we cannot advise you on this particular point.  I would suggest that you speak to an accountant about this. Please contact info@onlymums.org and they will help you find some advice.

Emma Benyon Taylor

WBW Solicitors

Q.

I have booked a one week UK holiday for my wife, daughter, and granddaughter. The estranged partner of my daughter is claiming we need his permission for this to happen and he is threatening furthe action. Does he have any rights short of a court order to prevent us going on holiday as grandparents/mother and granddaughter?

A.

Holidays are often a difficult issue for parents who have separated. The answer to your question will depend on several points which are not mentioned - does the Father have parental responsibility for your grandchild,  does your daughter have a residence order for her daughter and if you live in England and Wales, where the holiday is to take place?

In general parents should try to agree holidays and other matters here both have equal parental responsibility for the children.  This includes agreeing holiday dates and notifying the other if they will be taking the child away, and confirming dates and emergency contact numbers. 

If it is within the jurisdiction of England and Wales, the consent of the other parent is not a legal requirement.  However it is always a good idea to reach an agreement because obviously if Father then wants to take a holiday, he will use your actions as a precedent to not reach an agreement when it is his turn for a holiday.  If the holiday is outside the jurisdiction of England and Wales, then if your daughter has has a residence order, she can remove her child from the jurisdiction for a period of up to 4 weeks a year, again without Father requiring to give legal consent.

If she does not have a residence order, then consent will be required from Father if the holiday is outside the jurisdiction. Irrespective of whether formal consent is required, it is always better to reach an agreement.  It may well be that the holiday you have booked falls within the time that the Father was due to have contact with his daughter.  This may be the source of tension and alternative contact should be offered to him, to make up for any missed time. Ultimately, if court proceedings are taken, the court will usually allow a child to go away on holiday, unless there are good reasons not to allow it. Such as a child being removed from school, or where there is a risk of the parent not returning but they will often expect missed time to be offered.

Mediation might be the next step for your daughter to take, so she and her former partner can discuss the holiday and reach an agreement not only over this holiday, but future holidays. If you live in Scotland, then different laws apply and you must speak to a Scottish solicitor.

Emma Benyon Taylor

WBW Solicitors

Q.

Hi I have moved my new partner and her 3 yr old child into mine and my ex wives house. can my ex force the sale of the house.

 

A.

The answer to your question depends on whether there is a court order or not? 

If, when you divorced your former wife, you entered into an order by agreement (usually called a consent order) or an order was made by a Judge, that will have determined what should happen to the house.

Usually such an order would say that the person remaining in occupation of the house would need to buy out the other owner's interests and release them from the mortgage on the commencement of cohabitation.  If that person could not afford to buy out the other or release them from the mortgage, then provision is usually made for the property to be sold.  If there is an order, then you must follow what it states.

If there was no order made, and you simply got divorced without sorting out the financial issues between the two of you, then your former wife could make an application to the court asking for the property to be sold and the proceeds divided between the two of you.  It would depend on whether your former wife had remarried to what sort of application she could make to the court.

It would however be best to negotiate a settlement with your former wife before any application is made to the court. I would suggest that you consider mediation as a way to resolve the issues between the two of you which would then hopefully avoid any court application, which could be expensive and lengthy. I would suggest that you go and see either the solicitor who dealt with your divorce or if you did not have one, arrange to see a specialist family solicitor who will be able to answer your question in more detail.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

Hi I have moved my new partner and her 3 yr old child into mine and my ex wives house. can my ex force the sale of the house.

 

A.

The answer to your question depends on whether there is a court order or not? 

If, when you divorced your former wife, you entered into an order by agreement (usually called a consent order) or an order was made by a Judge, that will have determined what should happen to the house.

Usually such an order would say that the person remaining in occupation of the house would need to buy out the other owner's interests and release them from the mortgage on the commencement of cohabitation.  If that person could not afford to buy out the other or release them from the mortgage, then provision is usually made for the property to be sold.  If there is an order, then you must follow what it states.

If there was no order made, and you simply got divorced without sorting out the financial issues between the two of you, then your former wife could make an application to the court asking for the property to be sold and the proceeds divided between the two of you.  It would depend on whether your former wife had remarried to what sort of application she could make to the court.

It would however be best to negotiate a settlement with your former wife before any application is made to the court. I would suggest that you consider mediation as a way to resolve the issues between the two of you which would then hopefully avoid any court application, which could be expensive and lengthy. I would suggest that you go and see either the solicitor who dealt with your divorce or if you did not have one, arrange to see a specialist family solicitor who will be able to answer your question in more detail.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

My partner has not been able to see his daughter in over 6 months, there is no reason behind this, he has tried to make contact with his daughters mother but without sucess, it was suggested through a third party that he may be able to see her but this as yet has not happened. there has been mediation in the past however that soon stopped, he would now like to take it straight to court due to financecs what would you recommned please.

A.

Unfortunately Legal Aid is no longer available for contact cases unless the applicant has some prescribed evidence of domestic abuse or child abuse.

To go to court for contact, an application must be submitted to the court on the form C100. This can be accessed on the Ministry of Justice website. The form needs to be submitted with 3 copies to the court with the court fee of £200. If your income is below a certain level then you can apply for a fee exemption from the court.

Once you have made the application, an appointment will be made for the parents to attend court. At that first appointment the Judge should identify the issues of the case and decide what needs to be investigated and by whom. Cafcass should also be present and should have undertaken checks with Social Care and the Police in advance of the hearing.

You need to bear in mind that a contact case can take many months through the court and it may even take several months before the first appointment. The court will also expect the applicant to have a form completed by a mediator to say that the parties have tried mediation. Without this form then the court may refuse to issue the application.

I hope this helps and good luck!

Lucy Cohen - Partner

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

my ex keeps stopping his contact with his son even though he has a court order to see him we have been going to court for 3 years my son is now 4 we have recieved a letter from her lawyer saying they have withdrawn fron acting on her behalf she has been served with a interlocutor together with a form G10 can you tell me what this means please with thanks

A.

Thank you for your question.

Your question however relates to Scottish Law, and I am Solicitor who is qualified in England and Wales.  Scotland has a slightly different legal system, and you therefore need to speak to a Scottish Solicitor to seek advice about your query.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

Please can you help....My nearly ten year old sons father and I have been divorced for 3 years. In that 3 years my ex has seen his son once a week at my parents home which is a meeting he often cuts short or cancels due to other things he would rather be doing, he doesnt show any interest in what my son does in school and never interacts with him which is one of the reasons we seperated. My ex now has a girlfriend and she has decided she wants to meet his son, and he is demanding this happen and stating I cant stop it ( thats obviously her words not his as he wouldnt think to say such a thing).Where do we stand on this? My son states he dosent want this to happen, can the choice be his?

 

A.

Thank you for your question. It is often difficult when new partners become involved in contact and contact arrangements.  Both you and your former husband share parental responsibility for your son. Along with agreeing on where your son should go to school, and when he should be with each of you etc.  It also means that when your son is with either of you, you each can make decisions about what should happen, who he should be left with and introduced to. Therefore your former husband can introduce his friends and his new partner to your son.  The only reason for objecting to this happening, would be if there are child welfare concerns which would mean it would be inappropriate for a person to be introduced to your son an example of this would be that the new partner had had her own children removed from her care.  It would not be simply because you did not wish your former husband to introduce his new partner to your son.

Your son at 10 is at an age where he can start to say what he feels about contact and what he wants to happen.  He can express to his dad that he doesn't yet want to meet his new partner. As he gets older he can start to say when he wants to and does not want to see his Dad and for how long.  Ultimately if his Dad forces something on him now, it may affect their future relationship. However you also have to bear in mind that the Court, if they were involved are likely to take the view that children need to get used to change and to accept, to a certain extent what both parents consider is best, even when they don't always like it.

They may also wonder whether this is your son's or your objection. However, the new partner may be a positive thing, it may encourage your former husband to have a better relationship with your son, and she, potentially, may be someone who you can trust to ensure your son is ok when he is with his Dad. There is no easy way for a new partner to be introduced, it must be done sensitively, and at a pace which is suitable for your son - not you or your former partner.

You need to consider what you would want to happen if it were the other way round, and you were introducing your new partner to your children and your former husband was upset, you may not wish him to object and encourage your son to do so.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

I am divorced (Absolute Jan 2010) and have three daughters (16, 14 and 11). The two eldest daughters have expressed a wish to spend additional nights with me but are fearful of upsetting their mother. No children are subject to any contact order and visits are by consent of the mother. Please can you provide information on the weight that their wishes carry.  I would like them to be free to move between households whilst respecting the feelings of all concerned. Many thanks in advance of any assistance that you are able to offer. I have tried the Citizens Advice but thet just gave me a list of solicitors, none of which I can afford.

 

A.

Thank you for your question. 

Simple - the court will place a lot of weight on their wishes and feelings at age 16 and 14 because if they wanted to, they could vote with their feet! I hope that helps.  Really, I suspect you need to find a way of communicating their wishes to your ex wife.

Good luck ;)

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

I have been separated from my wife for 7 years. We recently filed for divorce. My wife has just been awarded British nationality and has decided to return to her country of origin with my daughter (Colombia). My daughter has recently been diagnosed with epilepsy and has been in emergency care in hospital on three occasions, the last being two weeks ago. My ex wife is planning to relocate early next month. She is currently on benefits, but I do pay her child support each month. I work part time. Colombia is not the safest of countries etc. Is there anyway that I can stop her. What can you suggest.? Thank you.

A.

Dear Colin

As you are married you automatically have parental responsibility for your child, as does your wife.   Therefore your wife is not allowed to remove the child from this country without your consent or an Order from the Court allowing  her to do so. The correct procedure, if you do not agree to the child to be relocated, is for her to make an application for what is known as "leave to remove".   You would be given notice of the application and there would be an initial Court date set.

The Court would then give directions as to what further information the court require, i.e statements from you and your wife and a CAFCASS report which would provide the Court with the recommendations of the CAFCASS officer. This is not an application that can be heard quickly and the normal timescale is between 9 months to a year before the Court could make a decision.  The court's decision would be based on what they consider to be in the child's best interests. 

If you fear that your wife will take the child without your consent, then you will need to apply to the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order. 

This is an Order where the Court can stop your wife from doing a certain act, i.e. taking the child out of the jurisdiction.  They could order that the child's Passport be surrendered to avoid any possibility of her taking the child in breach of the Court Order.  The Court make this order on an emergency basis, if you believe that your wife is to take the child away in a short period of time.

You should take independent legal advice about the making of an application to Court as your wife does not have the right to take the child without your consent.  

 Mahie Abbey

Dawson Hart Solicitors

Q.

I am due a final hearing for contact. The cafcass report has been made and includes an inspection of the applicants home to see if it is suitable for overnight stays. I have just found out he is withholding the fact his partner is 5 months pregnant from myself and our children. Does this affect the case? Thank you

A.

Thank you for your email.   I think the best thing to do is for you to contact the CAFCASS officer and explain that you have now found out that the father's partner is now 5 months pregnant and this information was withheld by the father.    The CAFCASS officer can therefore make further investigations if they believe it necessary and prepare an addendum to their report. .  It could be that the final hearing will have to be adjourned so that further thought can be given by the CAFCASS officer as to the impact on the child of there being a new baby in the house.  

If for any reason the CAFCASS officer cannot assist, then you should write to the Court directly to the Judge that will be hearing your final hearing explaining that you have now found out this information and ask the Court to make any directions that it thinks necessary to be able to deal with this issue before the final hearing.

Mahie Abbey

Dawson Hart Solicitors

Q.

I am in love with a single dad of two girls who has had problems with drinking in the past and is now suffering from depression. The reason being that his mother, whom he lives with, loathes me and has threatened to get a court order out to take the children from him if he has any contact with me. Can she do this? does she have the right to do this? He is a good dad apart from the depression and that is because of her, and the situation she has put him in, of choosing between his kids and me!

A.

Thank you for your question.

A grandparent has no automatic legal rights in relation to their grandchildren, and therefore your boyfriend's mother does not have any legal rights over the children; unless she has an order in her favour for them, whether in her sole name, or jointly with your boyfriend.

If there is no joint order in force, your boyfriend can move out with the children, but this does not prevent his mother making an application to the court to have the children live with her.  The court would have to decide whether it is in the children's best interests to live with their Father or Grandmother? You, as a significant person, may well have to undergo safety checks to ensure that there are no issues with you being around your boyfriend's children.  Without having far more information, I cannot advise you what might happen should the court become involved.

Your boyfriend needs to seek legal advice as to his situation.  Legal aid is being withdrawn for these types of disputes at the end of the month, and therefore your boyfriend should seek advice as soon as possible.

I hope that helps.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

HI, I found your contact through Internet and wondered if you can give an advice. I have just recently divorced with my ex-wife. We had a social services involved with whom i signed an agreement to have my son living with me. In the divorce petition i stated that i will move out to live with my son and look after him. My ex-wife didn't make an appointment or anything else against this. Do I need to go for a custody or what need to be done?I really don't know to do right now. Could you pleasp help me?

A.

Thank you for your question.

Both you and your wife have parental responsibility for your son, and both need to agree where your son should live.  If your wife agrees that your son should live with you, then you do not need to take any further steps.  A court only becomes involved in making an order in respect of where a child should live if the parents cannot reach an agreement.

Otherwise the court and the law believes that you as parents are the best people to make a decision about your child.

If your wife is now saying that she does not agree with your son living with you, then you will need to make an application to the court for a residence order (formerly called custody).  However given social services have previously indicated that your son should live with you, it would be sensible to speak to them first about this, as they may well speak with your wife to confirm the reasons why your son should live with you.

However legal aid for these types of applications is being withdrawn at the end of the month, and therefore is you think you would be eligible for legal aid, you would need to see a solicitor as a matter of urgency.

I hope that answers your query.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

I have been separated from my wife for 7 years. We recently filed for divorce. My wife has just been awarded British nationality and has decided to return to her country of origin with my daughter (Colombia). My daughter has recently been diagnosed with epilepsy and has been inemergency care in hospital on three occasions, the last being two weeks ago. My ex wife is planning to relocate early next month. She is currently on benefits, but I do pay her child support each month. I work part time. Colombia is not the safest of countries etc. Is there anyway that Ican stop her. What can you suggest.? Thank you.

A.

Thank you for your question.

You should seek advice urgently about this.  You may apply to the court for a prohibited steps order preventing the removal of your child until the court has decided whether it is in her best interests to be relocated there.  This decision is based on many factors including the reason for relocation, the support system available to your ex and child here and abroad, the child's relationship with you, education and other needs.

Do see your solicitor for a full advice on whether permission to relocate is likely to be granted based on the particular circumstances of your case.  If you fear that your child may be removed quickly without your permission, you may apply to the court at short notice.  You may also alert the police who may stop your ex and daughter leaving any major port in the country.

Depending on the age of your daughter, you may have parental responsibility for her.  If you do, it is a criminal offence for your ex to remove her from the country without your permission unless she has a residence order in which case she may remove her for a month.  However, if you feel she will not return, do think about an order. 

Good luck. 

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

My 14 year old son lives with me in the u.k his mum lives in Spain We just started divorce proceedings. She says I have to pay her spousal maintenance, I say no because I'm bringing up our son. Who is right ?

A.

Hi

Thank you for your question.

Spouse maintenance is payable if there is a financial need and if you have disposable income to pay it.  You both have a duty to maintain one another until death, remarriage or a court order dismissing the obligation.  The fact that you are the main carer for your son will probably increase your financial needs and probably reduce the amount of disposable income that you have to pay maintenance.  It is relevant whether she is permanently resident in Spain or just there temporarily.

I hope that helps.

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

My partner & I have lived together for 6 years. He has a 9 yr old & his ex wife will not let him take the child on holiday if I am present. His ex wife is happy to leave the child with us for a week at a time when she is out the country but with not allow us to go anywhere together even for a weekend in the UK. My partner doesn't want to go to court in case she makes things more difficult. Can she do this?

A.

Thank you for your question.

It seems to be very unfair that your partner's contact is limited in this way if he already has staying contact with his child. It is important to consider what is in the best interests of the child and so it is important to know the reason why the mother restricts the contact stopping you going on holiday together. If the mother's reason is not valid in terms of what is best for the child, then it appears appropriate to try and challenge her view either through mediation, or by instructing a solicitor to negotiate on his behalf. I understand that your partner may not want to make things worse, however, both parents need to work together to ensure that their child is happy and has opportunities that will enrich their life, and this includes being able to go on holiday with each parent. I would strongly advise he suggests to the mother that they go to mediation to try and resolve this issue.

Lucy Cohen - Partner

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

I have a shared residence order of 4 children but my oldest wants to live wiv me full time how can i make this happen as his dad is not his biological dad.

A.

If you have a shared residence order but want to change the terms of it, you would need to apply to the court to vary that order. In making a decision the court has to consider what is in the best interest of the child by taking into account the Welfare Checklist, a copy of which can be found here. The court will look at the reasons why your eldest wants to live with you. Their wishes and feelings will be taken into account if they are of sufficient age and maturity. The impact on them of being treated differently from their siblings will also be considered.

I am not sure that I understand the reference to his dad not being his biological dad. If you mean that the person who you share a residence order with is not the biological dad, it is unlikely that this will affect the decision of the court bearing in mind they have already thought fit to make the shared residence order in his name.

I would strongly suggest that you seek independent legal advice about your prospects of success before taking further action because I could not advise you on the limited information that I have been provided with.

Lucy Cohen

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

In Scotland can I get my daughter christened without her fathers
consent? Could he do anything about it? She sees him at weekends but that's
it I look after her all the time. I have read up and there is mixed posts
aout this. Any info would be much appreciated.

A.

I am sorry but I cannot help with this question. I am not a Scottish lawyer and not qualified to advise on Scottish law

Mahie Abey

DawsonHart LLP

Q.

my husband pays csa to his ex and was wondering do they take in account his travel expenses he gets or should this not be included in the claim

A.

They should not be. According to the rules the assessment is made against net weekly income. This is net of tax and NI. Pension contributions are deductible in full. Any bonus, commission or overtime payment is included as are receipts from pension schemes, working families tax credits, employment credits and disabled persons tax credits. Income from savings, investments, benefits and student grants and loans is excluded. In reality expenses are just the reimbursement of money spent. If in doubt I would suggest you check directly with the CSA

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart LLP

Q.

Hi my ex has cam back on the scene wanting joint custody of out son ,after the first ten month of not wanting to know We had a court order in place for 12 week of 2 ev 4.15-6.1( an pd alternate sat and Sunday 10-2 I am scared that going back to court he will be going for custody. He has nev looked after him I'm the night and I won't allow it What ate my rights he's only 15 mths old I'm putting in for a residence order Wat do you think will happen next and what are my chance of stayin compact at this age?

A.

Thank you for your question.

The first point to mention is that public funding (Legal Aid) is being withdrawn for most types of family disputes at the end of March.  If you need to make an application to the court for a residence order, you need to ensure that if you are eligible for legal aid you get your funding in place as soon as possible.

If the court have to make a decision it will consider what is in the best interests of your son, and will then make an order accordingly.

Usually the court will want a child to have a relationship with both of their parents unless there are any welfare concerns.  Given that the court have already granted your former partner a contact order for your son, they must have considered that there are no welfare issues which would prevent contact.  The court generally wants contact to progress so that if it is all going well, children can stay overnight with the parent they do not live with, when the time is right.  However when that happens depends on the circumstances of the case, how a child reacts to staying away from home and there is no age at which a child must or must not have overnight contact.  It may well be that the court would wish for contact to be extended gradually before there can be consideration of overnight contact. The court will make the order it thinks is the right order for your son, just because your former partner applies for a residence order does not mean he will be granted one. 

The term custody no longer exists, it was replaced by Parental Responsibility some years ago - if your son's father is named on the birth certificate he may have parental responsibility. This does not mean that he will or will not have staying contact, it recognises that he is your son's father. This means that your son has a right to be involved with his father, and that means you cannot change your son's surname, or move out of England and Wales without his consent.   It means that you both need to agree on all the major issues in your son's life, such as which school he should go to, and the times he spends with each of you.

I can appreciate it is very worrying for you as your son is still so small, but I cannot advise you about what the court might do next without further information about the specifics of your case.

I would suggest that you talk to your solicitor if you have one, or make an appointment to see one as soon as possible, particularly bearing in mind the legal aid situation.

I hope that helps.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors LLP

Q.

What are the consequences if any of your partner remortgaging the house without your consent??

A.

 

Thank you for your question.

 

If you own the property jointly with your partner, then they should not be able to remortgage the property without your consent, as you would need to sign the remortgage papers.  Should they attempt to do so, they would have to forge your signature which would be fraud.  They can take out a secured loan against their share of the property, but again, you would usually be expected to sign to confirm your consent to this.

If you do not own the property jointly with your partner, then they can make financial decisions without asking for your consent.

If you own the property jointly with your partner, and you think they are remortgaging, then you should ring a solicitor for advice as soon as possible. 

I hope that helps

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

I am a single mum of two precious beautiful girls aged 10 & 11. Their father, my ex left us 6 years ago, during this time he NEVER once paid a penny in child support nor a penny off the mortgage despite his name still being on the deeds of the house. My sole income is my lone parents allowance and I have always paid 2oo per month off the mortgage and keep in regular contact with mortgage company who know the whole truth. My ex has never cooperated with them in returning forms they need signing etc. so the children and I are at risk of having our home repossessed. To cut the story short, my ex has never been in my girls lives since his abandonment apart from few times which suited him. He now has a baby nearly one along with a new girlfriend and new home. He took me to court in October last for access, which I was forced to agree to two hours every Saturday. My children hate it, to the extent my solicitor advised they keep diaries. I had to show my dr their diaries, she is concerned for their future mental health should this access continue. They go crying and tell him they hate it and just want to go home. He says 'that's tough'. You are staying etc. This is a man who is on his second drink driving offence, has a history of fraudulent behaviour which led him being arrested and spending 3 months in jail, he is a compulsive liar etc. I need to get this stopped. Can you help me ?

 

 

 

A.

Hi

Thank you for taking the time to e-mail. 

I sympathise with you. Contact is the right of the child but only if having contact is not putting them at risk of harm. I would ask your GP to put her report in writing. If you really believe that it is not in your childrens' best interests to see their father, you should alert him giving full reasons why and be prepared to have some evidence from the GP. 

The matter should return to court and the Cafcass officer will need to consider your evidence about contact together with the expert evidence to possibly make a different recommendation.

Sometimes people change. Encourage your children to see the best in their father to ensure that their decision is free from your influence. Children pick up on negative feelings. Occasionally children will resist contact because they  know it upsets you.  I know it's not easy when he has been so absent until now. 

Good luck and stay child focused. It sounds like you are

Best regards,

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

My partner & I have lived together for 6 years. He has a 9 yr old & his ex wife will not let him take the child on holiday if I am present.  His ex wife is happy to leave the child with us for a week at a time when she is out the country but with not allow us to go anywhere together even for a weekend in the UK. My partner doesn't want to go to court in case she makes things more difficult. Can she do this?

A.

Hi there

It doesn't seem fair at all. Write to her and invite her to consent in writing. If she does not, apply to the court for a 'specific issues' order for permission to take him abroad. As you have correctly said, if she trusts you with him whilst she is out of the country, she should trust his father and you to take him out of the country (unless she can show a real risk of harm including risk of not returning him).

Ask her to put in writing her reasons for objecting. If she does, give her adequate replies and reassurance. If she is still being obstructive, you can threaten to seek legal costs from her for forcing you to apply to the court.

It's not a difficult application to attempt yourselves.

Good luck!

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

 

Q.

Can my ex wife use the same solicitor ferm as i used for the divorce and for the arrangments for the children to try to gain more access to the children as they live with me and to get money out of my property??

A.

No. This is a clear conflict of interest and your previous solicitor will not act.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart Solicitors

Q.

Hi I was accused of sexually abusing my daughter 5 years ago and the allegations were investigated by the police and social services and I completely denied these as nothing happened. DNA test were completed and the final result was that there was not evidence that she had been physically abused as I clearly stated to the police at the time. The case was dismissed by the CPS and I was taken of bail. Now at the time I tried  to get contact with my daughter but social services blocked that as they felt I was still a risk to my daughter due to the allegations. They said even though they couldnt prove it they felt that something had happened. So I took my ex to court to try and gain contact with my daughter but after several attempts and a lot of money I was given only written contact. This I still find hard to accept if I was innocent then why cant I have any contact with my daughter. I ran out of funds to continue to fight in the courts so had to accept the written contact. This was difficult as my ex would not giver her address at the time so in the end
it was agreed I could write letters and send them to my ex's parents. This was absurd as they hated me and would never pass the letters on. Anyway long story short I managed to get some discussions going with my ex over email and finally she allowed me to send to her address and allowed my daughter to send me a card. She also asked me for money for swimming lessons and christmas which I did. I think all this came about as when I was with my ex I was a alcoholic and but have since then managed to get sober through a rehab centre and by going to AA. I am still sober today. I continued to send letters and emailed my ex to see how my daughter was andafter sometime we arranged to meet. (this was last year) We talked for a few hours and at the end she agreed to try and find out about getting me contact. A few weeks passed then she sent me an email verbally abusing me again and saying that she wouldnt allow me to see my daughter and if I wrote she wouldnt read the letters anymore. She also told me that she has met someone new and they are getting married. So I presume that the new man does not want me around at all and thats why she has changed her mind as at no time have I pressurised her or hassled her in anyway (my current girlfriend can confirm this) This is just a brief overview but I wanted to know what rights, if any, I have left. Am I entitled to see my daughter and have a say in her life. The law is very cruel for fathers who are wrongly accused of something and yes I admit I was a horrible person in addiction and at times dont blame her for not wanting me in her life but I did nothing wrong so surely I have paid for those mistakes and have been courageous enough to seek help so that I am a better person and can be a proper dad again. I have not seen or really heard from my daughter since she was 3.5 years old and this year she will be 9. I am desperate to see her again and tell her I love her and miss her everyday. I not sure what the way forward is from a legal point of view do I need to go back to court and fight her again ? Do I have any rights what so ever to see my daughter even if its in a contact centre ? Do I have any rights on how she is brought up and with her schooling ? Any advice would be so gratefully received as I am at a dead end of what to do legally.

A.

I am afraid that the short answer is that in the absence of agreement with your ex either directly or by using mediation you will need to go back to Court to be able to see your daughter. The orders you will be seeking are for Contact and possibly for Parental Responsibility. As a result of the history neither application is straightforward and there is no guarantee of success. However the fact that you have got your life back on track and want to restart your relationship with your daughter will stand you in good stead (although any reintroduction would be gradual). I would definitely suggest going to see a solicitor local to you for their initial advice even if you cannot afford for them to act for you in any negotiation or subsequent proceedings.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart Solicitors

Q.

Hello my name is Russell, I have a son with a woman who started using heroin at the age of 13, I met her when she 29 and she was on a methadone program. Our son is turning 4 soon and I am worried for his safety. Can I have her drug tested and see whether she is doing heroin aswell as methadone program?

A.

Hi

Thank you for your question.  As 'father' you have a legal obligation to protect your son from the risk of harm.  You are correct to enquire about this.  If you feel that she is still taking heroin, you must ask for help.  You could try asking her in a non confrontational, diplomatic way if your relationship with her is such that you can.  If you do not get a response or cannot ask, you should contact your GP and health visitor or social services emergency team depending on the level of risk that you feel is present. You personally cannot force a drug test but you can invite professionals who are working with her to investigate the position.  It may be that she is being tested at intervals already....

Good luck

Harjit Sarang 

Best Solicitors

Q.

My son and his girlfriend wanted a baby and she is now 11 weeks pregnant but has left him! No reason, just suddenly went from being over the moon, happy, in love to has moved EVERYTHING out, wont speak to him, wont give him the time of day. She said she is happy shes pregnant and keeping the baby, will let him go to scans and be at the hospital when its born but no other contact during pregnancy. This has come from nowhere. He is devastated as wanted a family, not to be excluded. She has changed literally overnight. If he decided NOT to go to scans and not be involved - who knows what she'll do next, maybe suddenly move abroad??? - how about paying? Will he really have to pay for a child that is literally being taken from him for no reason?

A.

Hi 

I am sorry to hear that the relationship has broken down.  The important thing is that she is keeping him involved and inviting him to scans etc.  She may have many different reasons for changing her position as regards the relationship.  Concentrate on the best way to keep communication lines with her open and maximise her co operation. Once the child is born, your son will want to ensure that he is registered as 'father' on the birth certificate.  Thereafter, you should all find a way to be amicable because decisions will need to be made for the benefit of the child for some time yet.  Find ways to work together focusing on what will be best for the child.  Relationships come to an end, this is not unusual.  As said, the priority is working with her so that the child benefits from a relationship with both mother and father.

That said, if the relationship is such that there is disagreement and your son is excluded, please see your local family law solicitor urgently for advice about a contact Order (order that he sees the child) and possibly a prohibited Steps order if you feel that she will go abroad / move away in an effort to exclude your son.

As for money, your son has a responsibility to maintain HIS child.  This does not change if he does not see the child.  The maintenance is for the benefit of the child as is contact.  the two should not be related i.e. one cannot terminate contact if payments cease.

I hope that helps and it all works out for you. 

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

Please can you help!! im a single mum my son is 18 mths old ive never stopped my ex partner from seeing our son my only wish is that he collects him from somewhere other than my home, as he is verbally and mentally abusive to me he shows up at my home whenever he feels like it im at breaking point and feel very alone im currently seeing a solicitor to arrange medeation he has also threatened to just come and take my son he is on the birth cert but we are not or never been married can he just do this my solicitor says he cant do anything because ive got no proof he has said these thing what can i do its making me very ill i just want him to stop coming to my home, contacting me ect is there anything that can be put into place to stop him

A.

Thank you for your question.

As your former partner is named on your son's birth certificate, it means that you share parental responsibility for your son. You do not need to be married for your son's father to have parental responsibility.

Having parental responsibility means that you both must agree on the major decisions in your son's life, and that neither of you can change his name, or move out of the jurisdiction of England and Wales without the consent of the other. Having parental responsibility does not give either of you the right to interfere in each other's parenting when your son is with either of you, unless it would be harmful to him.

It does mean, that both you and your former partner need to agree on where your son should live, and what time he should spend with the other parent. If your former partner refused to return your son to you after contact, then you would need to obtain an emergency order because as you share parental responsibility, the police would not intervene unless there were welfare concerns about your son whilst in the care of his father.

Having parental responsibility does not give your former partner the right to turn up at your house out of the blue and demand contact or be rude and abusive to you.

Can I suggest that to start this process you need to put forward a schedule of contact, either through your solicitor or in mediation, to regularise the arrangements and your former partner needs to know that he cannot turn up outside the agreed times. You can also put forward a proposal as to where you should meet to handover your son both before and after contact.  If your former partner continues to turn up at your house, or at unagreed times, you need to make it clear that contact will not take place.  If he threatens you, or harasses you, then you should call the police.

Ultimately if no agreement can be reached, than an application to court will be required (although you only have until 31st March to obtain public funding before it is withdrawn).  The court will then decide the times your son should be with each of you.

I hope that helps

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

hi my question is if come April the 1st my partners claim in the courts for access isn't resolved will I continue to get legal aid or will it all just stop regardless of the stage the case is at? thankyou

A.

Thank you for your question.

If you are in receipt of public funding on the 31st March, then that will continue, whether it is advice and assistance from a solicitor (Legal Help) or full public funding (Certificated). 

It would seem you are in receipt of full certificated funding as you have proceedings going through courts, and  therefore you should not be affected, and you will not lose this on the 31st March. 

It is not clear however whether a certificate could be amended after the 31st March, the rules on this have yet to be released.  But your solicitor will advise you as to how the changes will apply to amendments as soon as they (and we all) become aware.

Hope that helps

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

I am in a bind. I had several terms of agreement typed into my divorce decree. All of which my ex wife reneged on. (Use and payment of a vehicle, child support, spousal support, etc). The biggest two being child support and the vehicle. How can I enforce what I have in writing in our divorce decree? Its worded poorly and there's a lot of grey area in the way it was written up I feel. Please help!!!

A.

Thank you for your enquiry.

It is important to know if the agreement was included in a consent order that was approved by the court. If so, the terms of the agreement are capable of enforcement through the family courts, although you have to look carefully at the wording of the order to check that your ex wife has broken it.

If the agreement was not in a consent order but in a separation deed, then you may be able to enforce it by arguing she has breached a contract with you.

It is important to get legal advice on the enforceability of the agreement so you can ascertain the most appropriate method of enforcement you can also find out whether it is written in a way that makes it capable of enforcement.

If the agreement is not enforceable for some reason then you may be able to start court proceedings to deal with any matrimonial assets although child maintenance would have to be dealt with through the Child Support Agency. Click here for more information on Child Maintenance options.

Lucy Cohen

Williscroft & Co

 

Q.

Can my ex wife use the same solicitor ferm as i used for the divorce and for the arrangments for the children to try to gain more access to the children as they live with me and to get money out of my property??

A.

Thank you for your question.

Your solicitor should not accept instructions from your ex wife because there will be a conflict of interest. If you became aware that the solicitor had accepted instructions then you would need to raise this with the solicitor and consider making a complaint.

Lucy Cohen

Williscroft & Co

 

Q.

My 16 year old has decided to live with her grandparents against my wishes. It was temporary but since it was over 8 weeks I advised csa and child benefit. I have been paying the grandparents money for her but now they have put a csa claim against me. I have spoken to csa numerous times prior to this and was advised that me and my ex , her dad, would between us have to pay 15%. I have now been told its 15% from me and as they haven't put a claim in against her son, then they will not seek money from him.

I am very confused as csa on 3 occasions have told me it would be 7.5% and does it make a difference that she is there against my wishes. Also is it right they only claim it from me.

A.

Thank you for your email.  This is a very unusual situation and it is clear to see that even the CSA do not have clear guidelines as to what should happen in these circumstances.  You need to put in writing a formal complaint to the CSA about their service and if you do not receive a satisfactory response there is a further complaints procedure that you can then follow to have this decision reviewed.  All details about the complaints procedure can be found on the CSA website.  I hope you are able to resolve the matter with the CSA.

Mahie Abey

Daswon Hart Solicitors

 

 

 

Q.

My ex-husband and I have a shared residency order. The headteacher of our son's school asked to see us both but gave us the option to see her individually, knowing that my ex-husband would want to see her alone. Am I entitled to see a record of their meeting? Thank you.

A.

Thank you for your email.  I am afraid you will have to ask the Head Teacher as to what the school's individual policy is in respect of this, as this is not something that is covered by the residence order and will be left to the individual school's discretion.   I would therefore ask the Head Teacher as to what their policies are in this regard.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart

 

Q.

hello, I have recently find out that my partner in 6 years has been living double life. While searching i found out that he is sending email to minor girls. there is nothing sexual really but 50 years old man sending emails to couple of 15teens???? its not about the revenge. it never was. but when i told him that i am going to report that (we have two little girls

together) he went straight away to his lawyer and now they are trying to scare me with saying that he is going to take me to the court for me causing him stress (he is the one stressed unbelievable - yeah lost two families that he was running for 6 years). i dont know this man at all. i thought he was a good guy but while searching i found many things that changed my opinion about him. i was trying to make an agreement with him with regards to our children and financial support but he dosnt know what he wants. keep changing days and times, promising my daughters things and than not even calling to let us know that he is not coming. He also put my older girl against me. when she came back home she told me what he told her. we also agreed that he will send money to my account by the end of every month and today is 5th of new month and nothing has happened. this irregularity and his "i dont care" attitiude is causing me a lot of stress. When he called me yesterday after seeing his lawyer and trying to scare me off i really got scared. He told me that he is going to Colombia forever and i am scare that he might try to take girls with him. Today he was extremely nice to me over the phone and promised to give me the money and help with kids and i am really loosing my head right now. please tell me what i can do to protect myself and my girls. Can i make a legal agreement with him that will stop him from taking my kids, showing on time and paying as agreed? please let me know what my options are. I am really on my last energy. All this situation is already very difficult for me but imagine loosing my children. I will be grateful for any advice, regards.

A.

Hi

I am sorry to hear about this.  The priority is to prevent him taking the children abroad.  Initial steps would be to keep hold of the passports and write to the passport office to prevent any duplicates being issued without your consent.  Further, always be aware of the return time.  If he is not contactable, contact the police if you suspect that he may attempt to take the children abroad.  They may issue a port alert to stop him leaving the country via all of the major ports.

As for contact and finances, it sounds as though there is v.little if no reasonable dialogue between you and mediation does not seem appropriate.  Make an appointment with your local family law solicitor and ask about a prohibited steps order from the court together with a contact order.  The prohibited steps order (if granted) would order him not to remove the children out of the country or generally from you unless there is agreement.  The contact order may be defined to specify contact times so you both know where you stand.

Good luck. 

Best regards

Harjit  Sarang

Best Solicitors 

Q.

stupidly i thought i didnt need advice!! I moved into a house in 1997 as we were expecting a child later on in the year. The house was owned by my partner and her ex who she also had a child with. After a year or so while I was saving money to 'Buy into the house" I paid a agreed sum to the ex partner to be on the deeds to co own the house and for my partners ex to be off the deeds. 10 years of tormented tedium past and I separated from my partner. We had moved once to a different property. This house was sold. I stupidly was forced to agree to sell on certain terms. My ex partner gets 100,000 pounds on the basis that she needed to house 2 children. At the time of sale one child was at university in  london and had her own accommodation. The second child is now full time living with me due to my ex partner being unable to look after her properly and her intentions to move out and begin arelationship.Im broke and she seems to have had a large cake and eaten it. Is there any cake left for fools like me? because im hungry!

A.

Thank you for your question.

I am assuming that you did not marry your partner and that you owned your previous property in equal shares?  When you cohabit with someone, you have very different rights than if you had married.  Property ownership is governed by the law relating to trusts and property.

It would seem from the information you have stated that you did agree at the time to the sale of the house and to the division of the net proceeds of sale.  You did have the option of seeking legal advice at the time, and I think it would be difficult to make any claim now against what would be the net proceeds of sale of the house that you and your former partner owned together.  It is not impossible, but you would need to speak with a solicitor to see whether you had a good case to make a claim.  Much further information is needed from you about all the circumstances which you will need to discuss with a solicitor.

You need to be aware that public funding (legal aid) is being withdrawn on 31st March for these types of applications, so if your solicitor does feel you have a case, you need to get on with this asap.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

My ex got a court order to have his kids two nights a week on the 1st november and has only had them three over nights since then is anything I can do.

A.

Hi

Thank you for your question.

I am sorry to hear that your ex is not making the most of his contact time with the children.  I suggest that you remind him of the time that he is to spend with them (if you haven't already) and invite reasons why he is not doing so. 

You need to assess how this ad hoc contact is impacting on the children and what you do next will depend on that.  If you feel that the ad hoc contact is upsetting the children, you should communicate this to your ex and insist upon a routine if there is to be any contact at all.  If the children are fine with the contact the way it, is, you should ask yourself whether some contact is better than none for their sake.  Be led by the children's wishes and feelings.  I know how difficult that is because as the main carer you too need to organise your life.  Do factor that in when making your decision.  It must work for you as a family unit. 

I regret that in my view, the court would not force him to see his children more than he wants to but what it can do is define the contact for less time.

Good luck 

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

Good evening, I finished my court residency hearing over a year ago. The judges exact wording was this is not a shared residence case and was to award full residence to myself. I however made agreements with the mother that upon her obtaining suitable accomodation she could see him over night once a week, and twice mid week the next. She has not had him overnight less once scince the order for this was made in a shared residence order. Now she has just precured well over a year later a property. However it is a room in a shared house and she delcares this suitable for over night contact. My concern is the order does not specify that the accomodation should be suitable in nature and secure for the child. Is this implied as common scence under the childrens act? Is a room in a shared house of people she is yet to meet nor that i know nothing about considered suitable? are there standards that surround this? Any help in this matter would be greatfully recieved as she is due to move in at the end of the month and refutes she has an order so its tough luck!

A.

Hi there

Thank you for your question.  You are right to be concerned for the welfare of your child. 

I suggest that you discuss your concerns with her in a non confrontational manner and invite her to give you some information and re assurance about safety in the shared house. First and foremost you want to know who else lives in the house and how safe it is.  What are the common areas and will the child ever be left alone in them etc etc.   Is it possible to view the house together? A shared house doesn't always mean an unsafe environment but you are right to want more information particularly as the common areas are shared with the other residents.  You need to discuss the details and take a view.  Ultimately, there needs to be some trust. 

Good luck

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

hi i have been fighting my ex girlfriend in court for over 2 years for my parental rights. Everything started off with her wanting my medical records and me to be supervised at a contact centre...now after 2 years im still fighting hard and because of this she has started throwing serious allegations at me, in her statement she called me a rapist and a peodophile and i had to be questioned by police. the police believed me and said no charges would be made. my question is can i take her to civil court for slander or defamation of character. thanks.

A.

Thank you for your query.  The family law team only advice on matters which come under family law and therefore slander and defamation is not something covered under family law, and therefore it is not something I can advise you on.  I would recommend that you seek appropriate legal advice in relation to this.  If the family proceedings are still ongoing then the fact that the police have not charged you with any crime could be raised in the family courts.  If any similar allegations have been made throughout family proceedings then you should raise the outcome with your solicitor if you have one, or the Court directly so that it is noted and dealt with accordingly.

Best wishes

Nadia Salam

GT Stewart Solicitors

Q.

father was given his childrens address in a court order mother has moved away to a new address whithout telling father new address the father is still being denied by corts are they in breach of theie own order and fathers human rights?

A.

Thank you for your query.  It is difficult to advise whether the Court order has been breached without seeing it.  If the order was worded to cover that the mother should always disclose the address of the children then it may be a breach, in which case the father should seek legal advice.  If the Court has said that they cannot disclose the address yet, then the father may wish to make an 'Application for an order for disclosure of a child's whereabouts'.  If an order is made then the Court will usually direct that the address is disclosed to them.  They may also disclose the address to the father, however if there has been any domestic abuse or allegations of abuse in the past, or any risk of abducting the children then the Court may not disclose the address to the father.  The Court is able to keep the address confidential on request, and this is not a breach of any human right.  If the father wishes to make an application then I would recommend he seek legal advice, I presume that the father is already having contact with the children, if not then he should also seek legal advice about contact.

Best wishes

Nadia Salam

GT Stewart Solicitors

 

Q.

If my partner starts mediation and i cant afford it or get legal aid help what happens next?

A.

Hi there

You may invite your partner to pay for you? If you don't attend, your Partner may issue court proceedings that will certainly cost more than mediation.

Give mediation your best effort.

Best regards,

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

 

Q.

hi need some advice i've been with my partner for 10years we have 3 kids all under 8. in the last 2 years she started drinking but nothing to worry about then it started getting worse so i pulled her about it. now she hides it she's a secrete drinker. when i have to go out for anything i dread coming back because she drinks she tells me she ant but her eyes and how she talks gives her away. At first it was the cans now shes on bottles of vodka because its harder to smell it on her. she most of the time falls asleep and theres no one to look after the kids, i should stay but she ether kicks me out or i go because se couesed me that much stress over  the years i feel like breaking down. shes also bad on drugs (weed) she spends £10-£20 a day on it. once she fell asleep drunk and left oven on luckley no one was hurt. at the minute i dont work and am staying with my aunty. so i need advice do you think if i contacted social servise they could help me.

 

> get them or theyd help her more because once i do this theres no going

> back. thanks for any info im in uk.

>

A.

Hi there

I am sorry to hear about your situation.  As a parent you have a duty to protect your children.  You need to assess whether they are at risk of harm.  If your partner is drinking to excess or taking drugs, she is not capable of providing the children with adequate care and protection.  Further, the children should not see her in such a state.  If you are concerned for the children and you cannot be there to protect them, you need to consider informing social services.  They will / should work with you as a family to deal with this problem.  It may be that your Partner has to be referred to a drugs and alcohol program.  I know that involving services can be frightening however, the risk to the children is something that must be addressed.

Please note that if you have parental responsibility for the children (definition of parental responsibility)  you may apply to the court for an order that the children live with you for a period whilst your partner gets some help.  If you don't have PR, you should see your local solicitor on how to get it. 

It is better to get some specific advice from your local solicitor and put together a plan of action.  This may start with a letter to your Partner about your concerns if you feel that it would help.

Good luck

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

My sons ex has stopped him and myself from having contact with his 4yr old daughter. He has always been in his daughters life and since they split has had her overnight 2 days a week at my house. Since Aug her mum has stopped contact approx 12 times for silly reasons for example I collected his daughters prescription from the chemist instead of him. I'm really worried for my grandaughters emotional well being with contact stopping and starting all the time. He has contacted a lawyer who has asked for contact to be resumed and  if not will raise a court action. How long is the court process and do the courts normally grant the dad access if he's always been in a  childs life. My grandaughter is always asking to come to visit and is distressed by not having this contact.

A.

Thank you for your question.

Your son is doing the right thing by going to a solicitor and taking legal advice,  if an agreement over contact cannot be reached, then your son will have to make an application to court and ask for a court order.

The court's first duty is to the welfare of the children they are considering.  The presumption is that it is in a child's best interests to spend time and have a relationship with both their parents.  However each case is decided on it's individual facts and I cannot comment on your son's prospects of success without knowing more information.  But it would be unusual for a contact order not to be made in the circumstances you describe.

The court process is for an application to be made, for an initial hearing to be listed in about approximately 6 weeks time.  In that 6 week period, the court ask the CAFCASS office to make basic checks with police and social services about both parents, speak to both parents, and provide an initial recommendation to the court.

At the first hearing, either an agreement can be reached, or the court will give directions as to what must happen next for the court to decide on the issue.

Timescale is dependent upon the court itself and how much availability it has, but the emphasis is on cases being completed within 26 weeks unless there is something unusual about them.

Your son should just ask his solicitor for more detailed information about the process and timescale involved.

As a grandparent, you also can apply to the court for a contact order in your own right.  You would need the court's permission to do so but this is usually granted.  However as you are supporting your son and his application you probably do not need to do this. 

I hope that gives you some basic background.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors LLP

Q.

can you help me please... what type or number ref. court order do you need to make inorder force c.s.a comply with help me to obtain address child to carry out d.n.a

A.

I am not sure that I fully understand your question. Could you please let me know what has happened and then I can try and answer it.

Thank you,

Lucy Cohen

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

hi, i live in england my ex lives in scotland with my 6 year old daughter. we shared custody for the first 5 years til she went to school. she has since met some new guy moved out of the house she lived in and moved away with no forwarding address and i havent seen my daughter for over 12 months now. its took me over 12 months to find were she lives now so i contacted a solicitor who informed me as im in england and shes in scotland i need to find a scotish solicitor to represent me. is this true HOW CAN IT BE?

A.

Thank you for your question and I am sorry but the advice that you have received is correct. The court in England and Wales does not have any jurisdiction to make orders about children that live in Scotland.

Therefore, you will need to instruct a solicitor in Scotland and issue any court proceedings there.

Lucy Cohen

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

Me and my ex partner split up before we had our daughter due to no fault of my own He didnt see her for months on end&I finally decided to go to the solicitors myself to get him to see her but with in that time had had moved away so I had no address present for him. He then stopped seeing my daughter again&was threatened with solicitors&court but he never did it in the end anyway. How ever since all of that ive always said her dad was aloud to see her. But only just today things have comes to blow between me&him&hispartner.I didnt swear once or threaten them but they feel the need to do it to me which I dont want that for myself or little girl. His new partner have threatened to take me to the solicitors again should I act on this myself&take hime first or just wait untill he actually does it?. If he does take me&it goes to court about having access for his daughter he is on her birth certificate so how many days is he entital to?. His current patner has nothing to do with my daughter or any buisness getting involved with what I can&cant do with my daughter am I right about this do u feel?.

A.

Thank you for your question.

It appears that contact has been very difficult to arrange for your daughter. My initial advice is that you need to consider what contact is in the best interests of your daughter and what she needs. There is no set arrangement that you must follow and a non resident parent is not entitled to a set amount of contact.

Your daughter needs contact that is regular, in a routine and free from conflict. Often parents reach an agreement for alternate weekends with some midweek contact, perhaps by phone or an afternoon tea. However, some children are not happy to stay overnight with their other parent for various reasons and this needs to be considered, although a child's view is only one matter to consider and the ultimate decision is not up to them. You also need to ensure that you set the contact at a level that the father can keep to, bearing in mind the previous problems concerning his commitment.

I would suggest that you ask the father what he can commit to and consider whether this meets your daughter's needs. If you are not able to negotiate with the father directly because of his behaviour, then you could try mediation or see your solicitor again to negotiate on your behalf. It does not matter who sees a solicitor first and if you have to go to court, it makes no difference who makes the application.

In relation to his girlfriend, she has no rights to your child however; if she is an important person in the father's life then your child will no doubt come into contact with her. Your child needs to see you and her being civil to each other so she will be happy to go between the homes.

If the father or girlfriend are abusive to you at contact handovers, then I would suggest that you get a 3rd party to deal with the handovers on your behalf, or meet in a public place where they are less likely to behave in this way.

If you want further information about the Law concerning children then you may find this link useful:

http://bit.ly/XaU83V

Lucy Cohen

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

I have a Court Order with regards to visitation of my children, my ex partner has been acussin me of all kinds of thongs recently and have a child protection order/paln against her with regards to my children. She has today informed me that I will not be permitted to see my children this weekend. I have spoken to CAB, CAFCASS, Social Services, Aldershot and Farnham Court (placed the order in place) as well as the police but am getting no-where. Wondering if you could provide any assistance?

A.

Thank you for your query.

If you have a court order in place, if the mother is threatening to stop contact then you need to seek legal advice about enforcing that order. A contact order can be enforced by imposing a penalty such as a fine, an unpaid work order, or in the most serious cases, imprisonment.

It may be a good idea to first find out exactly why she is refusing the contact and speak to the children's social worker about their views. If they agree that you should continue to have contact as ordered, they may speak to the mother about the importance of contact to try and change her mind.

Good luck!

Lucy Cohen

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

Hi there,

I'm a single Mum and was wondering how do I name a legal guardian? I have a one month old Son and his father isn't around. In the event I die how would I have his care handed to people I want to raise him?

 Thank you for your time

A.

You can appoint a Guardian in your Will.  However, if your son's father has parental responsibly for your son then that appointment will not effect if there is somebody with parental responsibility alive.    The father will have parental responsibility if he is named on the birth certificate.

If your son's father has no contact with the child and continues not to be involved in the children life and you were to die whilst the child is a minor then it might be the case that the father does not take any action to assert his parental responsibility and the child would live with whom you had appointed Guardian in your Will. 

If the father decided that he did want your son to live with him and not your appointed Guardian then he would have to make an application to Court for a residence order.  The court would make a decision based on what they considered to be in the best interests of the child and therefore would not be likely to order the child lived with his father, if there had been no previous contact between them.  Also, depending on the age of your son at the time, his views may also be taken in to account. 

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart Solicitors

Q.

Hi i am a uk citizen, planning on taking a holiday to orlando in October but as i am a single parent i need to get a letter from daughters father as he also has parental responsability but i dont know his where abouts. What do i do about the letter. Thanks

A.

You have not said if there are any court orders in place in respect of residence and contact of the child.  If you have a residence order in your favour then you do not need the other parent's permission to take the child on holiday for less than one month.

If there is no residence order then technically you will need the father's  consent, however if the father is not contactable and is not involved in the child's life and the airline/holiday company do not require his written authority, then I do not think you would be criticised for taking the child on holiday without his express permission.  

If the holiday company or airline are requesting this letter and you are unable to go on holiday without it, you will need to explain the circumstances to them. i.e. that although the father has parental responsibility he in not in contact with the children and you have no address for him.  If they still insist on an official document, then you could see if they would accept a document, known as a statutory declaration, in which you confirm you are the child's sole care and the father is not in contact with the child and you do not know his whereabouts.

If this does not suffice, then you will be left with no choice but to make an application to Court for a specific issue order, which is where a court can made a order about a particular issue, which in this case would be the holiday.  The Court are highly likely to grant this application and make an order allowing you to take the child on holiday.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart Solicitors

Q.

In my divorce in Sept 2008 I was given residency of my daughter and the marital home was signed over to me (I had to remortgage over 25 years and go interest only to make the paymenets) . One of the conditions of this was that If I lived with a new partner for 12months I had to pay my ex husband £15,000. I met a new partner in late Dec 2010 and he moved into my home in April 2011. My ex husband has been harrasing me to pay the money now we are living together.My new partner has recently sold his property as it was not finacialy viable for him to keep it BUT he is not on my mortgage as I am trying to protect the financial interests of my 12 year old daughter (I have a lot of equity in my house). My ex husband has been harrasing me to repay the debt , and is putting pressure on because my partner has recently sold his house .I spoke to my mortgage lender in April last year about the possibility of me raising the £15k, but I do not earn enough to remortgage (I am on a low wage). I currently work Part time (as i have no family to help care for my daughter)and it was my intention to look for full time work last year , however i was diagnosed with a neurological condition in Aug 12 and am still under the care of a neurologist . This has left me unable to seek full time employment as I may need an operation in March/April this year . I was also in a redundancy situation at work for 5 months until Dec 12. I have offered my ex husband a minimum of £5k in April as this is all I can raise but he keeps saying that my new partner should pay him off ? If it went to court would a judge make my new partner pay this debt? When we got divorced his partners income was not taken into account in any of our divorce settlement, so will my partners be taken into account now? He has tonight threatened to cut off child maintenance unless I pay him in April.

A.

Thank you for your question.

It would seem from your question that an order was made settling the financial claims between the two of you arising from your marriage, whether that was by consent, or made by a court.

The order states that you must pay your former husband £15,000 should you cohabit. As you are cohabiting, your former husband is entitled to enforce the order and insist on receiving the sum due to him. The court would not force your partner to pay the money as the order is against you. The Court would have to consider your circumstances and make orders to ensure that you paid the money; there are a number of options available but could include a sale of the house.

Whilst I understand your current circumstances were not envisaged when the order was made, the court will not overturn the order due to that; my advice, based upon what you have told me, is that you do need to make arrangements to pay the sum due.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

hello I wonder if you can help me...? I have a daughter with my soon to be ex husband his name is on her birth certicate and we got married after she was born my ex has our daughter to stay every other saturday she is going to be 6 years old this year and her birthday falls on the sunday of the weekend he would be due to have her, im planning on having a bday party on that saturday so my question is can i ask/stop him from having her that weekend i dont want to be horriable but would love for her to have her party that weekend i invite him and his family to our daughters parties anyway and he is more than welcome to see her on her actual birthday which is the sunday!! i know that he is going to be nasty about this and wanted a litlle advice please, can he legally do anything if i stop him from having her that weekend? there is no court order in place for when he seeing her just done between me and him thankyou

A.

Thank you for your question.

Birthday's are often a difficult area, as one parent inevitable feels left out if they cannot see their child on their birthday.

You need to discuss this with your former husband to see if he will agree to a change that weekend, perhaps by offering him another weekend in its place or changing the arrangements for that weekend. It is often a good idea to invite him to the party. If your former husband does not agree to change his weekend another alternative may be for your daughter to go to her Dad's house after the party, and then be returned to you around lunch time on her birthday (the Sunday) so you split the weekend?
That way you are both able to spend time with her on her actual birthday and she still gets her party?

You and your former husband need to be able to agree this and attending mediation to try and reach a compromise on this issue may help.

Public funding (Legal Aid) is being withdrawn on the 31st March for these types of cases (unless there are exceptional circumstances) therefore if you need to refer this to court, you need to see a solicitor urgently.

However, it would seem that you were able to reach an agreement about contact initially, and therefore mediation would seem the most appropriate way forward for you.

Legally you could stop him having contact that weekend, but I would not advise you to take this route, as this might bring further problems in the future, you both need to be flexible about this weekend and others in the future.

I hope that helps.

Emma Benyon - Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

I was with my partner for 18 years, 12 of which were in our house however everything was in his name. So when I our relationship ended I was forced to leave with our children, he had been abusive the entire time and so I could not stand up for myself. I and my children now live in rented accomodation. I have been in court with him fighting contact and financial assistance for the past 16 months and although i have filed a tolata and form E's he has ensured each court date is filled with contact problems and so finances have not been address. I cannot get legal aid but do not have money for solicitors and have been trying to do this alone and get legal advise when I can (borrowing money to pay for it). My qustion is, I now find out my ex has a new girlfriend with 2 children, he wants my chidlren to meet them, so it must be serious. If he moves his new family into our house, where does that leave me and our children? Also, I am at my wits end with this whole process and do not know where to get help, can you suggest any organisaiton who may be able to help me legally?

A.

Your ex partner should not be allowed to use the Court dates in respect of your financial application to discuss contact matters. It is not clear at what stage the contact proceedings and your financial application are currently at. If you cannot afford solicitors but would like representation at a final hearing, there are barristers that provide a direct access service and you can find details of them on the Bar Counsel website. You should also contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau who might have a specialist family solicitor who offer free advice sessions. Also some solicitors firms will offer an initial free consultation where you can get some initial advice. You may also wish to contact the Bar Pro Bono unit who might be able to assist you.

If the Court do decide that you have a financial interest in your partners property, then any order that the Court makes can still take effect even if there are other people living in the property. It may be possible, if he has not already moved his girlfriend and her 2 children into the property, to ask the Court to prohibit him from allowing people to occupy the property whilst these proceedings are ongoing.

Mahie Abbey

Dawson Hart  Solicitors

Q.

My ex has got Irish passports for my children and I am fearful he will snatch and run to Southern Ireland, is there anything I can do to safeguard them from being taken?

A.

The most practical step would be for the Irish Passports to be held by the person you both trust. Your ex is not allowed to remove the children from the jurisdiction without your agreement or a Court Order. If he took them to Southern Ireland without your agreement, then he would be ordered to return the children to this country and that order would be enforced in Southern Ireland.

if you were made aware that he was intending on taking the children without your agreement, then you would need to apply to the Court for a prohibited steps order. This order can be made on an emergency basis so you could obtain a court order the same day that you make the application, if the children were imminently about to be taken to Ireland. Court officials and/or the police would then enforce the order and if necessary remove the children from the airport or ferry terminal, if your ex had taken them there.

If your husband wishes to have the children live with him in Southern Ireland, the correct procedure would be for him to make an application to a Court for a Residence Order and leave to remove the children from the jurisdiction. The Court would only grant such an application if they believed it was in the children's best interests. There would be a full hearing and both you, your husband and the children, depending on their ages, would be given the opportunity to give their views either through a CAFCASS officer preparing your report or by giving evidence at a hearing.

Mahie Abbey

Dawson Hart Solicitors

Q.

Can my ex wife stop me from introducing my two Sons to my girlfriend. I've been with my girlfriend for 8 months now and have just found out my girlfriend is pregnant which I haven't told my sons about because I haven't even told them I have a new partner at my ex wifes demand not to tell them. My ex wife doesn't know about pregnancy either and I'm not willing to tell her because of her attitude towards my new girlfriend.

A.

Thank you for your query.

The first question I have to ask is whether you have parental responsibility. You will have it if:

-     You were married to the mother; or

-     Your children were born on or after the 1st December 2003 and

your name is stated on the birth certificate; or

-     If a formal Parental Responsibility agreement has been entered

into by     both of you; or

-     A Court has made an order.

If you share parental responsibility then you are both jointly responsible for making decisions concerning the children's welfare. If you cannot agree, then either of you could apply to the court to determine the issue. The mother may apply to the court for a Prohibited Steps Order to prohibit you from introducing your new partner or you could apply for a Specific Issue Order to ask the Judge to determine this issue.

However, this is the sort of issue that you should be able to resolve without going to courts because to do so would be costly and also increase the conflict between you and the mother.

This issue is often a fraught one for the parents but both of you need to look at what is in the best interests of the children. Is there any reason why it may adversely affect them if they meet your new partner?

Is your new relationship secure and likely to be enduring?  This needs to be considered against the fact that your boys are soon going to have a sister or brother and they need time to prepare for it and should be given the chance to get excited about it.

Often this issue becomes a problem because the other parent is not ready to cope with the fact that their ex partner has moved on. This may seem unfair to you but you also need to think about the impact on the children if their mother is unhappy. Therefore, you need to treat this issue very gently. I would strongly recommend that you suggest to her that you attend mediation to discuss this and any other issues that arise to try and resolve it.

Ultimately, if the gentle approach does not work you may need to point out that the children need to get to know the mother of their future sibling and give the mother a few weeks to get used to the idea before you go ahead and introduce your new partner. If the mother was going to take action to stop it, she would no doubt stop your contact and you may have to apply to courts for a contact order.

In relation to telling the mother about your new partner being pregnant, I would not advise you to hide this. She needs to know about the pregnancy because it will be an important issue for your children and you should not ask them to keep it a secret from her. You need to protect your children from being involved in conflict between you and their mother.

For further information I would advise you to look at these pages:

http://www.resolution.org.uk/advice_for_parents/

http://www.williscroft.co.uk/children.html

I hope this helps and good luck.

 Lucy Cohen

Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

I've applied for leave to remove my 3 year old son to Australia. I split from his dad before I knew I was pregnant with him. I have submitted my statement to the court and am awaiting his statement in reply. His solicitor has today sent me a list of 20 further questions after she haas read my statement. Do I have to answer them or should I wait until the pre hearing in Feb?

A.

Thank you for your question.

It is really a matter for you whether you respond to the request for further information. You cannot be forced to do so without a court order directing you to do so, however, if you do not provide the information requested then you may cause delay to the final decision. When you get to the pre trial review it is in your interests to ensure that the case is ready to be heard and if there are outstanding requests for information then the court may adjourn the pre trial review until you have provided it.

However, even if you answer the questions, you are not permitted to file documents at the court without the permission of the Judge. Therefore, when you attend the pre trial hearing next month you need to take a copy with you of the additional information and ask for permission to file it with the court.

Lucy Cohen

Williscroft & Co Solicitors 

Q.

My ex partner has married and fathered three additional children. His first born, my 13 year old daughter is in private education and has been since she was 4 years old. He has never contributed to my daughters education and he has always refused to pay part of the fees throughout our protracted legal battles (he is a muti-millionaire) stating that he does not believe in private eduction (although he is a product of it).

It has recently however been proven that his additional 3 children are all in private eduction. Please advise as to whether I have grounds to apply for him to contribute to my daughters schooling as I have recently taken a huge drop in earnings and still have 2 and half years of school fees remaining to see my daughter through her GCSE's? We have an extremely acrimonious relationship and and my daughter has no contact with him even though he lives locally.

A.

Thank you for your question.

Your options are to see whether through mediation or solicitors an agreement can be reached for your former partner to pay a share of the school fees.  Mediation would be set up to allow you to negotiate an agreement with the assistance of a neutral third party, the mediator.

Mediation does not need to take place with you both in the same room, you can be in separate rooms and the mediator goes between you (this is shuttle mediation).  Or you could ask a solicitor to try and negotiate on your behalf.

Ultimately if that is unsuccessful, you would need to apply to the court for an order under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989, which allows a court to order a parent to contribute to school fees and/or provide a lump sum. However there is no guarantee of success with any application.

It would be a matter for the individual Judge to determine whether your former partner should be required to contribute.  The fact that you have had a change in income, and you now believe your former partner is sending his other children to private schools are factors in your favour of a Judge making the order sought. 

However this is a complicated area, and you should really go and seek advice from a specialist family solicitor who will be able to consider your case in detail and give  advice about what order a Judge may make.

I certainly think it is worth you exploring this further with a solicitor, many offer reduced cost or free initial discussions.

I hope that helps.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

My partner has applied to the courts for a shared residency order and prohibitive steps order in relation to his 5 year old son, who he has 50% of the time. this arrangement has been in place for the past 2 and a half years but in the last year his son's mother continually threatens to withdraw access whenever she wants more money from him, she has now resorted to threatening to move him away which is why he has made this aplication to the court. the court hearing is next week and she sent a text yesterday now stating that she is concerned that when he has his son he comes to my house and stays over, she is now threatening to cease contact before the court hearing if he doesnt confirm that their son will be sleeping in his own bed when he has him she has also stated that she will be asking the court to make an order that when he has his son his son has to only sleep in his own bed! Can the court make such an order? and if so would that mean he is not allowed to sleep over at my house, his aunts, grandparents, uncles house etc? i find it absurd considering she has been in a relationship with her now partner for the past 2 years and he is always at her house.

A.

The Court are very unlikely to make an order placing restrictions on where your partner takes his son or who he sees when the child is in your partner's care. The court would only do so if they believed the child would be exposed to harm without such an order. The child's mother would have to explain to the Court why it is detrimental to the child's welfare to spend time with other members of your partner's family or yourself. The court would then make investigations, perhaps by way of a CAFASS report or obtaining any relevant police reports, before making any decisions.

You do not say if your partner is legally represented, but if not your partner should take copies of these texts threatening to withhold contact to the Court as the Judge may ask to see them.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart Solicitors

Q.

My Ex partner has refused to return my Daughter into my care for the third time despite a contact order being in place. I am completing an enforcement of the contact order application. I am really worried about taking her there in the mean time. Can I also be accused of breech of the contact order even though I have submitted the enforcement application?

A.


Your ex partner is breaching the court order and you should file the enforcement application immediately with an letter asking for an urgent hearing. You have not said in what circumstances your ex partner has refused to return your daughter. If you have to get the police to return your daughter to your care then you could explain to the court in your covering letter or within the application itself that the circumstances of her not being returned are such that it is detrimental to your daughter's welfare to be exposed to this situation and you have temporarily ceased contact until the enforcement hearing. You should ask the police to provide confirmation of the incidents, which you be sent to the court with your application.

If those are not the circumstances and your husband threatens not to return your daughter and then returns her to you late by a relatively short amount of time, it may be best to abide by the Court Order so your ex partner cannot accuse you of having breached the order.

In any circumstances, you must try and get the earliest possible appointment so that your enforcement application can be heard.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart Solicitors

Q.

i have contact for my child in a contact centre it meant to be for
2 hours as she only 3 her mum stays anyhow the child been getting really
upset before entring the centre to the point where she make herself sick so
on the 2 visit ive had ive seen her only 20 mins my ex after 10 min each
time has got up and left with her is she allowed to do this she doesnt help

A.

Thank you for your email. It is not clear how the contact has been arranged. If you are in a position to do so you may want to speak to your ex-partner about this, and see if there is anything either of you can do to make your daughter feel comfortable about going to the contact centre. If you feel that you cannot speak to your ex-partner directly about this then you may wish to consider the use of mediation or through your solicitor to see how you can both reach an agreement to deal with your daughter becoming distressed at the contact centre. If the contact has been ordered by the Court then you should check the wording to see if your ex-partner is breaching the order, and if so then you should discuss this with your solicitor so that it can be raised at the next hearing if it is not resolved beforehand.

Best wishes

Nadia Salam

GT Stewart Solicitors

Q.

My ex is moving away (1 hour by car) with my 2 boys aged 10 and 12.
I had presumed we would share traveling when I see them every over weekend
from Fri eve to Sun eve. I had proposed that either I picked them up Fri and
she then picked then up from me on Sun or we could meet halfway for both
journeys. She has said no to this and wants me to do all of the driving.
Where should I stand on this? Many thanks

A.

Thank you for your email. If your contact has been arranged by a Court order then you should read it to check the wording regarding handover. If there is nothing regarding handover or it has been agreed between yourselves then you may want to raise any concerns again with your ex-partner if there will be practical difficulties with you collecting and dropping your children off. If there are practical difficulties with doing this and neither of you can reach an agreement you may wish to consider mediation to see if any agreement can be reached regarding the travelling, if it means that you will not be able to travel to them.

Best wishes

Nadia Salam

GT Stewart Solicitors

Q.

My daughter has conta t alternate weekends withher dad or that is
what is meant to happen as per the court order. I have a residency order.
Hehas lived in manchester and bolton since we havebeen divorced sleeping on
mates sofas etc. When he has had a job and his own flat or house and had
overnight contact he hasnt given me the correct address as to where my
daughter is. He has had numerous girlfriends who he introduces my daughter
to he is generally unrieliable and uncoperative. He has now got a house to
live in and has sent the address details to my daughter by tezt. I have been
told by my solicitor that im within my rights to have someone neutral ie
social services visit the house to check it iss thr right address and that
it is suitable. Does anyone no who i call to arrange this as im going round
in circles

A.

Thank you for your email. You mention that your solicitor has already advised you about this. Is your solicitor able to help with this, or able to contact your ex-partner to arrange a visit. You may be able to contact your Local Authority Children Services to see if they can assist with this. However it may be if you feel comfortable and are in a position to do so that you arrange to visit the property with someone to ensure that the property is suitable. If you do not feel comfortable to visit the property and the Local Authority are not able to assist then I would recommend that you speak to your solicitor about this again.

Best wishes

Nadia Salam

GT Stewart Solicitors

Q.

i have been seperated from my ex for 3 years,she moved to huddersfield with her new boyfriend and i live in london,i pay all my c.s.a through my work but find it hard paying for the travel i pay so much with rent and other stuff,i can only afford a room to rent where she has her own place,car,her boyfriend has his own business.I really struggle to pay the travel,is there anything i could do?

A.

Unfortunately your child support rate is not affected by the other bills that you have to pay or even the financial circumstances of the mother.
I presume you pay your child maintenance through your work because you could not reach an agreement with the mother about how much you would pay. If this is the case then the mother may not be willing to reduce the amount you pay by agreement, however, you may wish to try and negotiate with her. If she agreed to a reduction in child support then she could inform the Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission that you are now going to make your own arrangements.

If you can't reach an agreement with the mother about reducing the maintenance then you may want to discuss with her the arrangements for contact. In most cases the non residence parent is responsible for the travel costs however, if that parent does not have the means to meet the travel costs then the other parent may have to contribute to ensure that the contact continues. This can be by a financial contribution or by her dealing with one leg of the journey.

You may want to consider mediation to try and resolve this issue.
Alternatively you could discuss it directly with the mother or ask a solicitor to help you negotiate. If you cannot reach an agreement you could apply to court for a contact order that defines who is to be responsible for the travel costs. However, you may struggle to get legal aid for this case and you would need to consider whether the legal costs justify the outcome. This will probably depend on whether you can continue with the contact in the absence of some assistance of the mother.

I hope this helps and good luck!

Lucy Cohen - Partner
Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

my ex left me and our 18 months old son,he wants no more contact
with us at all but he just emptied our sons savings account, is this
illegal?

A.

You will need to contact the bank and ask whether he had legal authority to withdraw the money from the account. If he is named on the account then he will be authorised to make withdrawals. If this is the case then you could ask a solicitor to write to him to ask him to refund the money. If he is not authorised to withdraw the money then you should speak to the bank to find out why they allowed him to withdraw the money and whether they will resolve this matter to your satisfaction. I hope that you manage to find a solution.

Lucy Cohen 
Williscroft & Co Solicitors

Q.

i have been seperated from my ex for 3 years,she moved to huddersfield with her new boyfriend and i live in london,i pay all my c.s.a through my work but find it hard paying for the travel i pay so
much with rent and other stuff,i can only afford a room to rent where she  has her own place,car,her boyfriend has his own business.I really struggle to pay the travel,is there anything i could do?

A.

Hi thank you for your question.

In these circumstances, it would not be unusual to expect your ex to take responsibility for part of the journey bearing in mind that it is in the children's best interests to see you. Try to discuss the difficulties that you are in with her and invite her to assist. You could try mediation services. Perhaps you could give her some options that make more financial sense for you depending on the age of the children.

I hope that you manage to work something out.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

Can my ex husband insist our 14 year old son sleep in the same bed for a weeks vacation with his 14 year old step sister. he does not want to and I think it is highly in unacceptable. Are there any laws in place?

A.

Hi

Thank you for your question. Perhaps try to discuss this with your ex and relay that both you and your son are uncomfortable with this. As a compromise, can he be provided with a sleeping bag to sleep on the floor? It may be better to suggest alternatives and solutions if you agree that your son would benefit from the holiday.

I hope that helps.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

hi i have been fighting my ex girlfriend in court for over 2 years for my parental rights. everything started off with her wanting my medical records and me to be supervised at a contact centre...now after 2 years im still fighting hard and because of this she has started throwing serious allegations at me, in her statement she called me a rapist and a peodophile and i had to be questioned by police. the police believed me and said no charges would be made. my question is can i take her to civil court for slander or defamation of character. thanks. 

A.

Thanks for your question.

I can appreciate that you are upset by the allegations made against you.
In the family courts it will ultimately be a matter for the Judge to decide on whether the allegations are true and the impact that should have if any, on contact ordered.

Defamation is the umbrella term for libel and slander. Libel is a written and then published defamation of character and slander is a spoken and then published defamation of character. For any action to succeed there must have been publication of the defamation. You would need to seek advice from an expert in this area to see whether you would be able to take action, and how much it would cost as public funding is not available for civil litigation.

From a family lawyer viewpoint, I would say to any of my clients that the family courts will decide on the truth of the allegations, and that it is best left to them to do just that rather than starting other proceedings in other courts.

I hope that answers your query.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

Hello, I am wondering is someone can advised me, my daughter is
9 months old, my ex left me when she was 3 months pregnant. Since the birth of my daughter, visiting / access arrangements has always been on the terms and conditions of my ex. I have recently found out that I am not named on the birth certificate, however I have always paid for monthly payments for my daughter. Since I find out about not being on the birth certificate, I have written to my ex requesting agreements to parental responsibility and regular contact via mediation,which for the first three letters she did not respond too. I am left with no alternative option but to go through the courts to apply for the above.
As my ex has not previously agreed to mediation (evidence available through letters, text messages etc) what rights do I have not to agree to go mediation? Any advice would be appreciate as I am not entitled to legal aid and cannot afford a solicitor.

A.


Thanks for your question.

Your next step would be to make an application to the court on a C100 form for a parental responsibility and contact order. On section 8 of that form, there is a question about whether you and your former partner attended mediation and if not why not, and you can just explain there that you have suggested mediation but your former partner did not wish to attend.

Once the matter is before the court, depending on where you live, the court may adjourn matters to see if mediation may be successful as proceedings have been issued, or the court will simply continue with the application on a normal basis.

Once you are in the court arena, I would say that if there is a chance of negotiating an agreement however that may be done, then that option should be explored as it is always better for the children for the parents to reach an agreement rather than have one imposed upon them.

I hope that helps.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

My ex husband HAS NOT seen his 8 years old sone in 7 years , he has
just rang up n said he is taking me to court to for access . what do i do?

A.

In order to "take you to Court" your ex will need to offer mediation on this issue first of all. If after that he does make an application to the Court then the Court will initially try to mediate an outcome and if that does not work will order a Cafcass report into what should happen. This will involve a Court appointed social worker interviewing each of you and your ex and also talking to your son to assess his wishes and feelings. Once they have reported you will be encouraged once more to look at settlement but if that fails there will be a Court hearing to assess whether contact should take place. The process will take many months and the outcome will be based on what is in your son's best interests looking at all the facts. In terms of what you should do now, I would recommend you go and see a solicitor to look in detail at your options

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart

Q.

Hi just some advice needed please, i have been a stay at home dad
for over a year as my ex partner wanted to advance her career, i would look
after my 19 month old daughter every day(i only had 5 nights away from her
in this time) now my partner and i have separated and she has taken my
daughter away from me and i have only seen her 4 times in the last 2 weeks
with no over night visits!. My question is that i want full custody and
allow my ex visits when she wants, do you think this will happen as i have
been the primary carer? any help would be greatly appreciated.

A.

Yes I do think it will help that you have been the primary carer. What the Courts look at when deciding with whom a child will live is the welfare checklist set out in the Children Act 1989 and what is in the best interests of the child. There is no presumption in favour of one parent or the other. You need to get legal advice from an experienced family lawyer on the issues involved as soon as possible

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart

Q.

If a father has had all CAFCASS safeguarding checks passed and the court sees no reason why overnight access to a child would be an issue can the mother prevent this from happening just because she doesn't want to give the child up?

A.

Hi

Do you mean if the court makes an order for there to be overnight contact? Your ex can refuse and disagree for as long as she wants however, once the court order is made, she will need to comply. There are penalties for non compliance and one of them could be to find that she is incapable of putting the children's interests first necessitating the need for a change in residence in your favour if that is a possibility.

Good luck and enjoy Christmas !

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

I gained a Residency Order for my daughter, since the order was granted 6 years ago the mother has not maintained the contact as stipulated in the court order. We have also just found out that the mother now lives as a tennent in a house with a married couple, so there is no space for my daughter for the overnight contact that is required (I live in Scotland, mother lives in England). My daughter is 13yrs old, and I do not think it is appropriate that she shares her mothers bed for the week long contact. 1) What do I do about her non-compliance to the contact order? 2) Can I refuse contact based on the fact that she has nowhere for my daughter to sleep?

A.

Hi

The law in Scotland is different. I advise based on this being an Order from an English court.

You need to assess whether the sleeping arrangements put your daughter at risk of harm. It is not simply the case that sharing a bed should mean no contact because many people have different circumstances based on financial resources. The important thing is that your daughter is happy and safe. Indirectly speak to your daughter about it, if she has no difficulties with it, you may feel better about this. Mothers and daughters sleeping together is fine, this is not something that I would be concerned about unless there are other risks that you have not mentioned.

If your daughter is unhappy and struggling, discuss it amicably with her mother and see how you can work together to make things better. It may be that she cannot afford anything else right now. Does that mean that your daughter should not see her?

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

Hi, My ex wife and children have Moved house, she will not give me her new address, so as I can contact my children. Is this legal, and is there anything I can do about it? Thanks

A.

Thank you for your question.

As you have parental responsibility for your children as you were married to their mother, you do have a right to know where your children
are and to have a contact address and telephone number for them.

It would seem that as your former wife has stopped your contact with the children, then you will need to make an application to the court for a contact order, so the court can determine what time you should have with your children. As part of that application, unless your former wife has a good reason, she will be asked to let you have her new address.

The first part of the process would be for you and your wife to attend mediation to try and resolve the matter amicably without the need for court proceedings.

You should go and see a solicitor in the new year to discuss this issue, particularly as public funding (legal aid) will stop at the end of March for these types of issues, and if you are eligible, you would need to get funding in place quickly to make the application to court.

I hope that helps.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

My brothers wife left him for someone else, but my brother got full residency of his 3 very young children. His ex wife is allowed to visit the children for 2 hours every other week at a contact centre and he has allowed her to visit them at Christmas time in his home. Her partner, who she has another child to now, is not allowed contact with the children. My brothers ex wife's partner decide to punch him, in front of the children, outside the contact centre, but my brother did not retaliate, he just wanted to get the children home to calm them down as they were hysterical, but apparently my brother can not have a restraining order or injunction put in place against him, to keep him away from my brother or the children, is this true? My brother cant even move nearer to his family as it would mean he would have to make a long journey every fortnight, to the contact centre just so this unfit mother can see the kids for 2 hours. Is there any advice you could give me please. Thank you.

A.


Thank you for your question.

Your brother cannot get a civil injunction (non-molestation order) against his former wife's new partner as they are not associated persons under the Family Law Act 1996.

A restraining order is a criminal order made after a conviction for an assault or such like. The court would decide to impose a restraining order if it felt it was required.

Your brother therefore needs to report any assault on him, or threat, or any harassment to the police. The police will decide the appropriate action to take.

It might be worth your brother speaking to the contact centre regarding the arrangements at the centre, as often the centre can allow the parent and the children to leave whilst keeping the visiting parent in the centre to avoid situations like this. Or allow in your case Mum to leave with her partner, and therefore your brother and the children can leave safely. This however depends on the geography of the centre, as to exactly how it could be arranged.

I appreciate it is a difficult situation for all, but if there is a court order in place, your brother must continue to make the children available for contact as he seems to be doing.

Your brother can of course move out of the area, but not out of the jurisdiction of the court. He would need to consult his former wife's about the move and the changes to the children's schooling etc. If his former wife did not agree, then an application to the court would be made, and as part of that application the court would need to look at how contact can continue due if your brother moved. That would depend on the distances involved, but it may be that the contact continued at the existing centre every 4 weeks, and at another centre in between those 4 weeks nearer to your brother's new home, so the travel time was split?

Your brother should perhaps go and see a solicitor in the new year to discuss his options should he be considering moving areas.

I hope that helps.

Kind regards,

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

4. hello i was the respondant in a variation contact order case in march this year, part of the judgement by the magistrates , was to continue with the previous order for christmas contact where i dont and have never seen my son , who is now seven , on christmas eve night or christmas day, only boxing day contact, this continues until 2014 , when i finally get the contact the other way around, when my son will be nine. ive never been given a reason for this , except that my son was only 17months old when the first order was applied , and hios half brother was still at home. obviously my son is older , his half brother doesnt live there anymore , even if he does go to his mothers on christmas eve does this mean i have to wat till my son is nine? my parents are both in ther seventys and have one grandchild , theyve never seen him on christmas day. i was told and am still being told , that i had to wait at least 6months to apply back to court for legal aid eventhough i was the respondant. do the courts have "christmas applications"? can i get a solicitor to start the work as time is against me before the funding is granted? i keep being told circumstances have to have changed , well as i said earlier they have changed from 2007 t0 2012 so why didnt the order? both myself and my son really dont mention xmas anymore he was so upset 2yrs ago when he really thought we were going to be together for xmas i think hes given up! Please help. thank you

A.

Thank you for your message. It is difficult to not see your son on Christmas Day. Unfortunately the Courts do not have a 'Christmas application'. If you wanted to apply to vary the order there would need to be a change from the circumstances from when the last order was made. In certain circumstances the Court could list an emergency hearing; however given the circumstances you have set out it is unlikely that this will happen before Christmas 2012. I am not sure what relationship you have with your ex-partner and whether you are able to reach an agreement about sharing Christmas Day or being able to speak to your son if there is a large distance, making it difficult to share Christmas Day.

In relation to getting legal aid, I would recommend that you get legal advice prior to April 2013 as the legal aid cuts will come in then, making it difficult to get legal aid for contact proceedings alone unless you are a victim of domestic abuse. Your solicitor will unlikely be able to do any work for you without funding in place. Your solicitor will also need to assess whether there are sufficient merits to apply for legal aid if you are only proposing to change contact for Christmas 2013, as you are already due to see your son for Christmas 2014, however they would be best placed to advise you regarding your merits to get legal aid and how long it will take to get funding in place before you can take the matter back to Court.

Best wishes

Nadia Salam

GT Stewart

Q.

hi i wanted to know wot can be do about a guardian who is not reporting the wishing an feelings of the child for 4 years when the case has been in court for 7 years.

A.

Thank you for your query. If you are concerned about what the child's guardian is reporting to the Court then your first point of call should be to raise these concerns at Court and set out why you feel that the wishes and feelings are not being accurately reported. You can also make a complaint to CAFCASS, details of how to make a complaint are on their website. I would recommend that you speak to your solicitor about your concerns before you take any action, as they will be in a better position to advise you as to what the best course of action is given the circumstances.

Best wishes

Nadia Salam

GT Stewart

Q.

2. Hello, Part of my divorce settlement was to sign over the matrimonial home to my wife with the understanding she was to stay there with our children. I since found out that she had no intention of staying there and the house had been up for sale privately and a buyer was waiting to exchange contracts - this was before we were divorced - at the time I was put under a lot of pressure to sign the house over. As soon as I signed, within a matter of weeks she moved into a new home with her boyfriend. Had I known the truth I would not have signed over the house and would have stayed living there. The divorce agreement was obviously signed with false intent and she had a plan already under way. I have written to the courts to vary my maintenance order - and to point out the false intent on an order that surely cannot be a legal document. The divorce process has left me almost bankrupt, and suffering bouts of depression without the finances to support a legal battle I'm writing to ask - what could happen?

A.

Thank you for your query. Unfortunately the Court usually does not have power to vary an order for the transfer of property made under s24(1)(a) Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. This is where it has been ordered that the property be transferred for the benefit of the children. The Court does have power to vary the maintenance order. It may be that you want to get legal advice on varying the order made, and on that basis see whether you can pursue the matter alone. Unfortunately it is difficult to give further information without knowing the full details or seeing the last order. I would recommend that you seek legal advice, even if it is for someone to go through your paperwork to assess whether you have good prospects to vary any of the orders made.

Best wishes

Nadia Salam

GT Stewart

Q.

Hello, I have been divorced from my ex wife for a year. She has poisoned the children with lies about me and made them frightened to see me. I have tried for a year with letters, emails, presents and I don't get even a thankyou. I have text my ex wife and never have any response. Both children 12 and 14 refuse to see me and refuse to try mediation. I turned outside the ex wifes house to give my son his presents as he walked home from school and he ran screaming and shouting. Its killing me not seeing my children - what do I do next?

A.

Thank you for your question. It must be very difficult for you. If you have already tried to resolve this already outside of Court by attempting to discuss the matter with your ex-wife and have also attempted mediation but neither successful, then I would recommend that you seek legal advice about making an application to Court for a contact order to see the children.

Best wishes

Nadia Salam

GT Stewart

Q.

hi i need help im a single mother of three beautiful children just recently after a very long time i finally found out by ringing my solicitors that i am finally divorced she was too buzy to call me and let me know even where she knew I was waiting for her call. But the problem is as soon as i had rung her she tells my my ex husbnad wants the house which is mine where i am living with my children and also after 2years of not even bothering to be pleasant to my childdren as they walked past him he apparently wants access to them !! they are perrifed of him and always run or hid behind me when they see him... what am I to do? my solicitor has mentioned i will need to reapply for legal aid but i have recently got a christmas job and they way she dealt with my divorce was appalling I really do not have faith in her professionalism

A.

This is a difficult one. If you have lost faith with your solicitor then you should consider changing solicitors. A list of the solicitors local to you can be found on the Resolution website. Yours is a complicated situation and you will need to get legal advice. Generally on finances and children issues you should try to negotiate an outcome with your ex and if that is not possible then an application to the Court may be necessary. However in your case it sounds like you should wait and see what your ex actually does – he may just be making empty threats at the moment. Either way I think you need to get yourself competent legal advice as the first step.

Mahie Abbey

Dawson Hart

Q.

How much does a non- molestation order generally cost??? my solicitors fees are building up my the second and causing me to go into financial problems. nearly £2,000

A.

I am afraid non molestation proceedings can be expensive because they require a fair amount of work to be done quickly. Whilst I cannot comment on what your solicitor has specifically charged you for, the figure you have mentioned is not so high as to be unusual. Your solicitor has a duty to give you at the outset a clear cost's estimate. If this has been exceeded or you have an issue with the costs you are being charged then your first step is to take it up with your solicitor and then the firm's complaints system. If you do not get a satisfactory response then the legal ombudsman may be able to help.

Mahie Abbey

Dawson Hart

Q.

I am writing this correspondence on behalf of a friend who is a disabled single father of two children (boys aged 14 and 15) living in the family home, his disability prevents him from doing any kind of paid work and throughout the marriage his wife has been the breadwinner or only working income provider. His wife is now estranged and has been living with her mother for over four years and is currently seeking a divorce. She has been paying the mortgage and home insurance for this period but has not contributed anything other finances towards the childrenâ?Ts upkeep except the occasional item of clothing or hygiene products. His wife has offered to sign over the family home to him as  full settlement in the divorce and the oldest child has expressed a preference to leave the family home and move in with his mother when the divorce is finalised. This will have the effect of greatly increasing his monthly outgoings as well as reducing the family income. He is unsure that if he becomes solely responsible for the mortgage repayments he may not be either allowed to take them over while his only income is benefits or if he can even afford them. She has threatened to kick him out of the family home if he refuses this offer. He needs advice on this situation, Is his estranged wife responsible for paying any child support?, can she force him to sell the home while the youngest child still lives there?, she is currently responsible for the mortgage repayments, what happens if she stops paying? This situation is a reversal of what normally is expected in a divorce because the parents roles are reversed, the youngest son wishes to stay with his father and to continue his education until he is 18, what are his mother's financial responsibilities towards him? I can provide more financial information if required, household current income and outgoings plus any other information that might be helpful. I am assisting the father because he has difficulty expressing himself clearly. Regards

A.

Hi there

Thank you for your question. The wife does have an obligation to maintain the children and your friend depending on her financial resources and needs. The court will always try to preserve the family home for the children where possible. Is there an application with the child support agency? Your friend will need advice from a benefits expert on the financial support available for him in any event.

It is very difficult to advice specifically on this case because the figures are unknown. You need to see a family law solicitor and legal aid may be available for you. Quite generally, the process is to assess your individual financial needs and obligations after gathering information confirming all financial resources including benefits and child support. Your solicitors will then carry out an exercise that best applies those resources to meet your agreed needs. Clearly a major factor will be how to keep the children adequately housed.

I hope that helps and I am sorry that I cannot be more specific.

Do try to find a solicitor who can assess your eligibility for public funding.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

Hi I have a son of 9 months and he lives with his mum. I am on the birth certificate. We split when my son was 6 months. I see him every tues and thurs 4pm-6pm. my work finishes at 3:30 so i just anout make it at 4pm but then it takes me half an hour to walk back to my parents (where
I'm currently living) I then feed him his dinner, and then he has a nap. On a Sunday I collect him at 10am and return at 2pm as this is the only day I have time to take him to visit the rest of my family. I
have asked my ex partner if I can have him over night as I feel I'm missing out on so
much of his life, she says he's too young and that I can't have him until he's old enough to understand why he's staying at mine" I don't believe this is right? Surely it would be better to get him into a routine whilst he is young. He's so 'grown up' for a 9 month old. People think he's 1+! I have applies for mediation twice but as oon as my ex finds out I'm going, she starts getting real friendly and then says we can sort it between us two but this never ends up happening so now I'm
being refused mediation. We lost a baby 2 years back and I believe  she is being very possessive because of this. The question is; if I was to go to court, would I be allowed more contact and have my son over night? Thank you for reading this

A.

Hi thank you for your question.

I see no reason why you should not have more contact/overnight contact unless doing so would put him at risk of harm of any kind. From what you say, there are no 'welfare' issues.

Your son has the right to maintain a relationship with each parent. This doesn't always mean equal amounts of time because that is often not possible.

You should inform the mother that you have had advice about your request and still feel that it's reasonable. Invite her to agree or put her reasons for refusing the request in writing. (Presuming she still refuses mediation).

If you have no joy, contact a family law solicitor to write a letter for you and consider a court application for Contact in the event that she still rejects your proposal.

Don't give up ;)

Best regards,

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

Hi, I have a 4 year old son and I have been split up from his dad since he was 18 months old. I have a new partner and so does his dad. About a year ago he started becoming really distressed about going to his dads house, he was crying and getting really warm and this went on for a few months and then it stopped again well recently it has started again and is even worse, he frets over it days and days before he has to go and when his dad turns up he's kicking and screaming because he doesn't want to go, he's come horn that distressed that he's made himself sick. This is stopping him from wanting to go and stay at other family member houses. I don't know what yo do anymore...ive tried cutting contact down to just daytime but that's no longer working. Thanks 

A.

Thank you for your question.

Seeing your son become so upset must be very distressing for you.

I would suggest that you talk to your former partner about your son and try to work out why your son is getting so upset - has something recently changed about your former partner's home, or is there a new baby on the way? If you and your former partner cannot talk easily, then maybe mediation may be an appropriate venue to try and have this discussion and then decide how best to tackle this together as parents.

Practically, it may well be that contact needs to be completely relooked at - it might be worth trying different ways to reintroduce contact such as your son having contact with his father in a public place for short periods of time with you present, so your son is reassured. If that works, then perhaps, you could start leaving the contact for short periods of time, and then building that up so you are only present at handover.

If however your son continues to display such distress despite the changes to contact, then you may need to review contact and look at why he is getting so distressed. An appointment with the GP may help.

Ultimately, if you cannot agree on a way forward to help your son, then you may need to suspend contact, and your former partner then has the choice to bring an application to court, and the court will then look at the situation and make an order. This would obviously be the last resort, as it would be better for you and your former partner to resolve this together.

I hope that helps

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

I have been seperated from my daughter's (aged 4) father since she was 6 months old. He is constantly being aggressive and demanding I give him lifts to and from anywhere and everywhere. He constantly threatens to kill me, break my face in and beat or kill any partner I may or may not have if I do not give in to his requests. He demands I HAVE to take him Xmas shopping for our daughter every Xmas even though we are not together. There is no custody agreement on when he should or shouldn't see her. He lets me down when I have work or college which makes me look like a liability. He pays no maintenance. He's constantly threatening me, my friends, my family and says he wants me dead and will ruin my life and make sure I end up with nothing and make sure my daughter grows up hating me.. He demands to see our daughter on school nights but refuses to get her up for school and to take her or to fetch her as he says this should be my responsibility to bring her to him as he is on 3 drink driving bans also bans for no tax, no m.o.t, no insurance and no licence and is unable to have his licence back until he is
32 (he first lost his licence at 25 and has never had it back since due to still drink driving on bans etc..). He demands as his daughters mother it is my responsibility to wash his clothes and make his dinner if he is struggling himself. He askes for money for loans and to help him fetch things for him from his friends and family's homes and take them to him(whatever they may be) he is trying to ruin my job, my Uni/college career and says I'm a bad mother for wanting this as I should have thought about this before becoming a mother. Whenever I try and stand up for myself he becomes EXTREMELY AGGRESSIVE even in front of our daughter. If he has our daughter over night and she for whatever reason wakes up feeling unwell...
I.e thrush, sore bottom, dry or chesty cough, he'll demand it's my fault and I should go and fetch medicines and bring/ buy them for and to him no matter what hour of the night, if I don't he threatens to beat my face in and calls me an unfit mother. He once demanded on my 27th birthday that my current partner left immediately so he and his girlfriend could stay/live with me and our daughter as they had no where to go (even though my partner offered to pay for a hotel and I live in a one bed flat) as I'm the mother of his child therefore he's my responsibilititiy for her sake and when we tried saying No he threatened to come around anyway and beat my boyfriend in front of his and my daughter. I've tried calling the police but he will just fight them too and has previously been done for assaulting a police officer/ woman/ criminal damage to other peoples personal belongings I.e phones, cars, furniture etc... He has already been in jail for drink driving with no licence, tax, m.o.t and whilst having possession of cannabis and carrying a machete. I don't know what to do anymore? He's not afraid of the police or going to jail. Infact when he was in jail he demanded having his tagging on release at my home even though I was living with my patent and threatened to kill himself if I didn't agree. He threatens to kidnap our daughter and did at one point grab her and run off with her. I called the police and they told me to give him until the end of the night to bring her back before they would intervene (which thank god he did) he turns up at inappropriate times at night banging on My door demanding to see our daughter. He has previously perforated my ear drum when he hit me with our daughter in his arms who at the time was only 8 mths old. He sends threatening texts and Facebook messages to my friends and family's which has caused me to lose a lot of them and their support includingy partner of 4 years. He drinks a lot (whiskey, beers anything he can get his hands on) he smokes cannabis and also sells it (which is hard to prove without a stack of eveidence from police. I'm in desperate need of help with him and even child care so I can finishe my studys and also work to provide a normal simple life for me and my Daugher as I'm now a single parent with no help no family and no job due to his liability in helping me out while I study or work although he does not work or do ANYTHING himself apart from sit in his bedsit selling and smoking weed Help me please!!!!! I want him gone for good! We need him gone for good!!! Help me pleeeeease xxx

A.

From the information you have provided in your email I believe you should immediately go to a local solicitor who provides public funding and discuss with them applying for a Non-Molestation Order. You must also go to the police as the behaviour you have described is criminal behaviour.

Ultimately if you believe the child is not safe whilst in the care of her father then you do not have to make the child available for contact as there is no Court Order in place. The onus would then be on your ex-partner to apply to the Court for a contact Order. During the Court proceedings the Court could order that your ex-partner be tested for alcohol abuse and drug abuse by way of hair strand tests. In the interim to ensure that the child and the father continue to have a relationship supervised contact, either at a contact centre or with a third party that you are happy with, could be used so that contact continues.

Caroline Bourn
Dawson Hart

Q.

Can my ex partner get a residence order on my son without my knowledge or involvement. He currently resides with her and I have him one day every weekend.

A.

Your ex-partner would not be able to get a Residence Order without your knowledge or involvement. If your ex-partner made an application for a Residence Order in her favour then you would be served notice of that application and there would be a minimum of 2 Court appointments before a Court would make an Order, unless you and your ex-partner were able to reach an agreement. In those circumstances the Court would then embody that agreement into a Residence Order.

Your ex-partner is unlikely to make an application for a Residence Order where the residency of the child is not in dispute.

You should however check that you have parental responsibility for your son. You would automatically have parental responsibility if you were or had been married to the mother of the child or if you jointly registered the birth of the child with the mother provided your child was born after the 1st December 2003. If neither of those apply you and the child's mother can enter into a Parental Responsibility Agreement or if the mother is not in agreement you can apply to the Court for a Parental Responsibility Order.

Parental Responsibility gives you the right to be consulted in respect of the child's education, medical treatment and other important areas of the child's life.

Caroline Bourn
Dawson Hart

Q.

Hello My case involves my wife moving almost three hundred miles away. With my children and although not actually refusing access she refuses to answer any calls or reply to any text etc. Our
separation was working fine until she moved in with new partner (who has court restrictions on his own children) and then various false statements were given to obtain divorce fully; And then various reasons started to be given to restrict access unless it suited her requirements. Then her partner instructed that our eldest son left and came to live with myself. (Age 14) He is now 16+ and the other children age 15 and 9. I have had to find out by enquiries their address and still to date not been given or allowed the land Telephone number. Then at the end of August she called here to visit the eldest son and a civil dispute was raised over a dog â?othat she had instructed a person to find it a homeâ? on being told she could not have it. She then sent the 9 year old in and caused great distress to the girl by then ordering that she left, over the girl being upset and wishing to stay longer. Then she went to the police and made a false statement and had armed police attend and although it was a civil dispute had the dog removed. (She said I was going to shoot it) Since the attendance I have been fully exonerated by the police and they confirm that it is now clear she made a false statement to â?ogain resultâ?. And this has been given in writing from the police. And I have been read the statement she had made. But the state of Access remains that I still have no access to the children unless I carryout the 1000 mile journey 265rtn to collect and 265rtn to take back. For access and visiting periods. And the upset it causes the child. Plus as the police agree there is a strong possibility that she will make another false statement to her local police and I could be arrested if I called with out her written consent. And as such I have been advised caution. Both she and her partner were unemployed on the move period and are now in casual employment assisted by state benefits. Where their shortfall in income exists. Although they own and keep several Horses and Hunt (expensive in its self) several times a month. My advice to date is that I can apply for visitation order and also access via the courts. Although there is nothing to say that she will comply with anything that doesnâ?Tt suit herself. All at my expense and time. Needles to say my health is affected by the whole case and also I think our children are being fed and manipulated as pawns in the whole sorry matter. Schools have been written to but as no replies received I can only assume that they too have been fed a tale of woe, and as such wish to remain neutral on the matter. Your thoughts on the case please.

A.

Hi

Thank you for your question. My thoughts are that at some point the children will vote with their feet! However, until that happens, the only thing you can do is maintain indirect contact and pursue direct contact and act as a litigant in person. It is better to have a court order that she ignores than to have no order at all. I would also pursue the school because you should be given the information as requested. Ask for reasons in writing if they refuse to communicate with you. Don't give up!

Best regards,

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

please help been mediation has not worked ex partner is agressif and vilont he keeps talking to the children about what is going on and putting things in there heads abou staying over on school nights im not happy with that as they are only 7 5 4 and i have them in a routine so i have said he can pick them up from school on a friday every other weekend and have them over night friday and saturday and bring them home sunday morning he also sees them on a mon after school and a wed social workers have been involved because police have been called because of him and he has spoken to them but all he dose is lies what can i do if it goes to court would they let him have them over night on a school night thanks

A.

Hi

If the matter proceeds to court, it is likely that a cafcass (children and families reporter) officer will be instructed to make recommendations on what amount of contact would be in the best interests of the children. The officer will speak to both of you to find out what contact is requested and why it is being rejected. He/she will also try to help you reach an agreement. Essentially, if the children need/want to spend more time with their father, he may be given more contact providing that the contact does not put them at risk of harm. The key thing is for you to be frank when you speak to the court officer. Be sure to tell her your concerns and also report the aggression that you describe in your question. If the children are not at risk when they are with him at weekends, why do you feel that they are at risk midweek? You will need to explain this. Routine and schooling is very important. Is there a way in which midweek contact could take place without it being disruptive for the children?

The task for the court will be to put the best interests of the children first. The court will need to hear evidence from you, the father and the cafacass officer before deciding what contact should be ordered. Clearly, if there is a way in which you can resolve this yourselves, please try to do so.

Good luck

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

My son and daughter in law separated during child care proceedings in which I was given care of their 3 month old baby. I had him for nearly a year and saw him through his sleepless nights, teething, weaning etc. His mother hardly saw him at the supervised contact but my son did everything for him. The care proceedings were not proven and my son was allowed to came back to live with me and the baby. Social services however did a risk assesment on my daughter in law and it turns out she has had three abortions, was a drink and drug abuser, attacked her own mother, was arrested for theft, tried to commit suicide on several occasions and self harmed then told police 'unknown' persons had come into her house to harm her. The police know she was crying wolf and just attention seeking. She has physically attacked my son, lacerating his face and eyes with her long finger nails. Yet despite this risk assessment social services took the baby, who hardly knew his mother, and gave him to her on the understanding she would remain in the area so we could check on her! If she was such a risk why did they take him out of his father's and my safety? Now the mother has taken him to Scotland. My son took out Contact order proceedings and a prohibited steps application but he could not afford a solicitor and her solicitor managed to pursuade my son to abandon the prohibited steps order.
Now she is not complying with the contact order so my son took out enforcement proceedings. The Judge told her solicitor (she never turns up at the hearings) that my daughter in law faced a very real prospect of imprisonment if she continued to breach the court order, but she knows the court will never enforce the penalties and she just refuses to bring him to the handover point. She refuses to let my son have an address for his son.
He has full PR. Now she has asked the court to transfer the case to the scottish courts. This will mean my son will not be able to attend without losing at least two days' work each time. She moved to scotland for no reason. They went to mediation and she confirmed that Scotland was not a viable option because of cost of transport and timescales etc for contact and she promised she would relocate somewhere within 50 miles of us, but she is also a compulsive liar and had no intention of staying close by. She firmly believes she is untouchable in scotland and I fear she is right. The law seems to be aiding her 'contempt of court' rather than penalising her.
Last time I saw my grandson was two months ago when he was clinging to his father's neck crying "no, no!" when his mother was trying to take him away.
My daughter in law takes men into the house and has unprotected sex with them. This is documented by social services and she has had 3 abortions, two full term pregnancies and within two months of moving to scotland in May this year, she has already had a miscarriage! She is putting her own sexual health in danger, exposing the children and herself to potential paedophiles or violent men, because she will take a man home on a first or second time of meeting him! Why can't we get the baby back from her and keep him safe and happy as he was?

A.

Hi

I am sorry to read about this. It seems that you have been let down by most services. If you wish to continue having contact with your grandson, you should pursue this. Are you entitled to public funding? Try to find a solicitor who specialises in public law / children cases. Preferably one who is accredited as a specialist in children matters by Resolution. The website to search is http://www.resolution.org.uk/. If it is the case that your daughter in law has taken your grandson away in an effort to prevent contact and if she is continuing with behaviour as you have described then one would argue that the child remains at risk of serious harm. If you get a good solicitor he/she will also assist you to communicate with social services about the risks and advise on the best way forward.

I regret that the best advice that I can give is for you to not give up on your grandson and find a robust family law solicitor to see the matter dealt with appropriately.

Good luck.

Best regards,

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

My ex wants to have our son for overnights. I told him that I will only do so if I know where he is taking him/staying with him and whom he will be having contact with during his stay to ensure that he is safe. He refused to tell me. Can I insist that he tells me where he will be staying with him?

A.

Thank you for your question.

As you have parental responsibility for your son (whether or not your former partner has), you are entitled to know the address at which he will be sleeping, together with the telephone number for the property and the names of any other people who live at that address. You should know this information for emergency purposes. Just as your former partner is entitled to know this information when your son is with you.

Neither of you are entitled to know however, every person with whom your son may be in contact when he is with you, and where they are at every moment.

Both you and your former partner have a right to a private life when each of you are with your son, and whilst you should both know the basic details such as where your son is sleeping, neither of you are entitled to determine what the other does with your son when he is with you. For example, your former partner cannot prevent you spending time with your friends with your son being present and the same applies to you.

It is about finding a balance so that both of you know where your son is, but not every detail. Getting this balance can often be hard but one way to approach it is to think about what you would find acceptable if it were the other way round?

Mediation may be appropriate for you both to attend to work through these details and the contact routine. Mediation is there to help you and your former partner reach an agreement, but also will enable both of you to put your point of views forward so that you can each understand where the other is coming from.

I hope this answers your query.

Emma Benyon-Tinker
WBW Solicitors

Q.

My wife has accepted the pension sharing terms of the divorce from the FDR and the judge stated that the remaining financial assets should be shared 50/50. However this was in February 2012 and she has still not replied to many letters asking her how she wants one of the endowment policies to be paid out...ie cash it in now or allow it to run for the remaining twelve months before it is split. My solicitor wrote agin on 16th October and chased again on 5th November giving them two weeks to reply. That expired yesterday. My solicitor has said we can ask the Court for an Enforcement order. What can be done to enforce this divorce and what can be done to force the other solicitor and my ex wife to reply now as I fear this will just drag on and on.

A.


Thank you for your question, for the purposes of the answer I am assuming that a Consent Order has been approved and sealed by the court. Without seeing the Consent Order, and the precise terms, it is difficult to be other than general in my reply.

The Consent Order would usually state that policies should be divided immediately or by a definite date, meaning a surrender of the policy was required, and the monies divided equally. It would be unusual for policies to be kept running unless there is specific provision in the Order for the monthly payment and who was to be responsible for that.

If there is confusion as to the wording of the order, then it would be usual to apply to the court under the liberty to apply provision to ask the court to clarify exactly how the order should be implemented, ie surrender now, or wait for maturity.

However you have to consider the costs of taking the matter to court, and whether that is sensible given the amount of money at issue. You could tell your former wife that unless you hear to the contrary within 14 days, you will surrender the policy and provide her with her share of the proceeds in accordance with the order.

Given that it seems from your question this is the only issue outstanding, that should resolve the matter and allow the Consent Order to be fully implemented.

I hope that helps.

Emma Benyon-Tinker
WBW Solicitors

Q.

I have 2 teenage sons 12 & 14 and they have expressed a serious desire to move and live with me, I have no issue letting there mother see them and have access but I want to know where I stand legally if I go and pick them up and move them to my house am I breaking the law?? I live in the UK and there is currently no residency or access orders via the courts. Regards, A

A.

If you each have parental responsibility (PR) and there are no orders in place you each have equal rights and duties in respect of the children. You will have PR if you were married or there is a PR agreement or Court order giving you PR. PR is automatic if you are on the birth certificate and the children were born after 01/12/03. Given your children's ages I do not think that applies. If you do not have PR then you should get it either by agreement or by Court order.

In either case, where the children live needs to be agreed between you and I would not suggest moving the children without agreement as in any way sensible. By the sound of it the children live with their mother at present. If that is so you should try to agree with her a move for the children. If you can't do that yourselves try mediation and if that does not work you could issue an application to the Court for a residence order. If your children want to move, then considering their ages, it is highly likely that they will be allowed by a court to do so.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart

Q.

My ex partner was awarded midweek residence of our daughter approx 7 years ago, she is now 11 and for several years has been unhappy and expressed a clear wish to live with me. Dad has been repremanded several times by childrens services because of smacking/slapping and emotional abuse. Both the Police and childrens services have statements/reports stating that Olivia wants to livewith Mom. But becuase there is no immmediate fear for her safety at Dad's nothing can be done. My only option is to go to court to get the residence order ammended I
think. Looking for some advice as I am not entitled to legal aid but cannot afford representation.

A.

You are correct that you will need to make an application to the Court for a residence order in your favour. You should try mediation first and the Court only if you cannot agree. If you cannot afford representation then your only real option is to act in person accessing help from support groups like Only Mums as you go through the process. You could also conduct the case yourself except for the hearings and pay a solicitor or a direct access barrister just to do the hearings for you. That would cut down on costs significantly. You may also be able to get what is called a Mckenzie Friend to help you conduct the hearings. Mckenzie Friends can't talk on your behalf but they are in Court to help you through the process. They can be professionals who you pay for but sometimes volunteers. I suspect Only Mums may be able to help with more information on this.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart

Q.

hi,my partner is going to family court to get access to his three children,his ex doesnt like me and has kept them away because of me,i know this will be brought up in court somy question is what kind of checks will they do on me or will i be left out of it all together?. 

A.

Hi

Thank you for the question. If your partner applies for 'contact' with his children and the mother objects, the court will appoint a court officer to investigate the dispute and make recommendations to the court.

If you live with your partner, you will be part of that investigation particularly if the children are going to be coming into contact with your frequently.

I hope that helps.

Best regards,

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

I have a son to an ex but have not seen him for 14 years he is 15 my ex won't behind my back when registering him after birth now she is married changed his surname to her new marriage name without my concent but then she has made a claim for csa from me witch I am paying is this legal

A.

Thank you for your query. If you were married at the time of the birth of your son to his mother then you would automatically require parental responsibility. It seems though that you were not, in any event your son was born before 1 December 2003, and therefore even if you were named on his birth certificate as the father you would not have parental responsibility automatically by being registered as his father. Parental responsibility is the right to be involved in important decisions about your son including what school he goes, religion he follows, any medical treatment and so on. You can also acquire parental responsibility by agreement from the mother, or an order of the Court. It seems from the information provided that you do not have parental responsibility for your son and therefore his mother can change his name without your consent.

For the purposes of the Child Support Agency, you do not need to have parental responsibility to be liable to pay child maintenance. Therefore the CSA can still ask you to pay child maintenance for a child even where you don't have parental responsibility. If you are disputing parentage then you can challenge the decision, otherwise you cannot challenge a decision of your liability to pay maintenance on the basis that you don't have parental responsibility and do not have contact with your son. Maintenance and contact are two separate matters, and the law on these areas are very different.

If you would like contact with your son but your ex-partner is not allowing this then you may wish to consider making an application for a contact order, you can also apply for a parental responsibility order if your ex-partner refuses to agree to a parental responsibility agreement. If you wish to make an application to the Court for a contact order it is important to note that the Court is only able to make an order until your son turns 16 unless there are exceptional circumstances, in which case the order could be made until he was 18.

Best wishes

Nadia Salam

GT Stewart

Q.

Hi, My wife and I divorced several years ago. As part of the agreements raised by her solicitors, I signed the family property over to my ex-wife and they quickly removed my name from the title deeds. However, despite it being agreed through a consent order, my ex-wife has made no visiable efforts to have my name removed from the mortgage and the lender will not remove my name at my request either. At present I am considering bankruptcy due to the significant level of debt incurred during the marriage and am worried that this may have severe implication for my children and there home. Please advise me on the best course of action with regards to enforcing the consent order or protecting my children's home from my bankruptcy application.

A.

Thank you for your query. It is not clear whether the mortgage lender was approached prior to the consent order being agreed, normally the mortgage lender would need to be approached to see if they would agree to remove your name from the mortgage deed. The mortgage company would need to assess your ex-wife as a lender on her own. If her income is low, and they feel that she would not be able to afford the mortgage on her own then they would usually be under no obligation to remove your name from the mortgage deed. If it had already been agreed that the mortgage company would remove your name then you should explore this option with the mortgage company first and consider a complaint if they have changed their position without notifying you. If the current mortgage company has refused to remove your name based on your ex-wife's income then she can approach other lenders for a new offer for a mortgage. Your ex-wife could also indemnify you to ensure that any liability from the mortgage only falls on her whilst this process is being carried out.

The bankruptcy is likely to affect the status of the house, and whilst the actual property is no longer in your name the transfer could be taken into consideration dependent on how long ago it took place. There are a number of alternative solutions to bankruptcy. I would recommend that you get debt advice to ensure that bankruptcy is actually the right action to take due to the restrictions of bankruptcy. You can get debt advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau, Law Centre or organisations such as Step Change (formerly known as CCCS) or the National Debtline. There is no need to pay for debt advice as there are a number of organisations that provide debt advice for free such as those mentioned.

In relation to the mortgage on the property you should see if you are able to speak to your ex-wife about this, if this is not possible or you do not feel comfortable doing speaking to her directly, you may wish to send her a letter or go through solicitors to resolve this is likely to be quicker than going back to Court. Going back to Court to enforce the Consent Order may also not be possible dependent on the wording of the order and what provisions had been made in relation to the mortgage. I would recommend that you consult a solicitor in relation to the mortgage, as well as getting legal advice on debt options.

Best wishes

Nadia Salam

GT Stewart

Q.

hi i have 2 girls aged 6 and 9 i see them on a weekend but am really concerned for there saftey but dont no how to go about it. i seperated from there mother 6 years ago,she has made my acsess very difficult.she is useing anphetimyn/speed she also sells it,the kids are always late for school,my 9 year old is been put on buses on her own at 7 in the morning to get home after been at her nanas to go home to then go to school ,i have also been told she goes out wen all 4 chilren under 12 are left unsupervised.?

A.

Thanks for your question.

I appreciate you must be really concerned for your children in these circumstances. If you have concerns about the welfare of your children, then the first thing you should do is report these concerns to the social service department in the area where the children live. Social services will investigate your concerns, and take any appropriate action that may be required.

Secondly, you should go and see a solicitor and consider making an application to the court for a residence order so that your daughters can come and live with you. The court will consider what action social services have taken, and will also consider asking your former partner provide a hair strand test so that this can be tested for drugs, to see if she is taking drugs and what amount.

The court will then consider whether the children should be left in her care, or moved to yours.

Legal Aid is still available until April, and if you qualify for this, then your solicitor will be able to advise you about the application to the court.

I hope this helps, and wish you good luck getting this situation sorted for your children.

Emma Benyon-Tinker
WBW Solicitors

Q.

Hello, I was wondering if anyone might consider giving me some advice? I currently support my ex wife, and have done for over 10 years, as well as paying her child support, as per the Court Order,
for one of my children(15) as the other who is now 18 lives with me,my second wife and her three children. It is a fairly complicated situation as my daughter who now lives with us permanently,lived half of the time with her mother for 2 years, from the age of 16, whilst her brother at that time lived permanently with us.During this period the Court Order was varied to reflect that my son was living with us but not that my daughter was living with us half the time.Earlier this year my son decided he wanted to go back to his mother, not for the first time but this time she agreed, and my daughter then decided she would live with us full time, which is what she had always wanted but felt she couldn't for her mothers sake. Her mother reacted very badly and threw her out completely.The Court Order has not been varied since as we still have one child but not the other! Myson wishes to come back to live with us permanently next summer when he will be 16 as he wants to attend a college near to where we live, it would be impossible for him to attend this college whilst living with his mother.The Court order states that Spousal Maintenance (circa£1,700 per month) should be paid until the youngest, my son, reaches 17 or upon completion of secondary education, which if he lasts the 2 year course would be until he is 18.(He has ADHD and education has been a struggle).

It is my intention to seek a further variation of the Court Order to reflect the above. I am wondering whether it would be possible for me to seek to stop paying Spousal maintenance once both of the children reside with us on a permanent basis, I can't see why any child support payments( circa £500 per month) would be required to be paid and I would also seek to stop paying these for the one remaining child.It sounds harsh but I have struggled to support my ex wife along with my wife and all 5 children especially as my wife's ex husband has completely reneged on his financial responsibilities to her 3 children. My ex wife has a mortgage free house(paid for by me essentially)and pensions, whilst we live in rented accommodation with no pensions etc!My son spends every weekend with us as it is and sometimes extra nights too, so for may years we have been doing most of the childcare and supporting all of the parents either directly or indirectly and we would love to see an end in sight!The Court Order doesn't give my ex wife custody out right but visiting rights for myself are mentioned, although clearly not adhered to as we have been having the children a lot more frequently even when they both still lived with her, always a night with us mid week for example not just every other weekend. So I guess the question is would a judge expect Spousal maintenance to continue once all the children reside with us and if so until when?! Until my son is 17 or 18? Any advice or even information on a similar case and its outcome would be most gratefully received. Thank you.

A.

Thank you for your question.

The situation is there is a court order stating that you must pay spousal maintenance until a specified event. Therefore until the specified event you must continue to pay spousal maintenance unless the order is varied by the court. You cannot stop paying maintenance until the court has varied the order. Therefore as soon as your son comes and lives with you, you should make an application to the court to vary the order for spousal maintenance.

The court can make any order it thinks is appropriate in all of the circumstances, which will include a fresh look at the finances of both you and your former wife. The court will also consider what was intended with the original court order, and when spousal maintenance should cease.

I cannot give you any information about other cases, as each case is determined by the court on it's individual facts. But in short, the Judge could order you to continue to pay spousal maintenance when both children are residing with you if the Judge thinks that is the most appropriate order to make. However the Judge could also order that your payments under spousal maintenance do cease immediately.

You should go and seek advice from a solicitor about this as it is a complicated area and not straight forward and very dependent upon the particular facts involved.

In relation to child maintenance, that is now dealt with by the CSA (or Child Maintenance Service as it is now called). You have a duty to pay child support for your son whilst he is with his Mother, but the CSA would take into account this children that you had in your household. The court does not have any jurisdiction to deal with child maintenance payments, and so if you feel these should be reduced, then you need to contact the CSA to discuss what might be an appropriate sum to be paid. Of course, reducing child maintenance payments may make your wife apply to the court now to vary the spousal maintenance she receives, and the court would again consider what was appropriate.

Once your son comes to live with you on a permanent basis, then you can stop paying child maintenance for him to your former wife.

Hope this helps.

Emma Benyon-Tinker
WBW Solicitors

Q.

My ex-husband and I are in the process of mediation although we
have been separated for over 3 years. We have a son of 6 and a daughter age
5. He has had periods of absence in their lives (3/4 months on 2 separate
occasions) but I have always accepted he wants to try contact again. He
blames me for being hostile. This is totally untrue. As you read on, you
will see the pattern of blame come in to it. He is difficult to deal with
and although I am not qualified to diagnose mental health illnesses, I feel
sure he has Narcastic Personality Disorder. It's very subtle, very draining
and he has little empathy for anybody else but himself. He creates dramas
then wonders why people argue with him. He changes jobs and friends
regularly, blames everything on everyone else, never learns from mistakes
and doesn't understand "cause and effect". Doesn't speak to members of
family for years on end. Blames them. I deal with it and suffer in silence
because my focus will always be about the children. I know how important it
is that the children know their Dad. His ways, however, are now starting to
spill into their lives and this is what concerns me. I have a fairly good
solicitor who knows my concerns but tells me not to get too emotionally
drawn in as we "can't fix him" - only work with the system we have. Quite a
few incidents have happened which he has twisted to make me look like the
"overprotecting mum". Last week for example my 6 year old fell head under
water at a lake feeding the ducks. He can swim because I take him to
lessons. He completely blamed my son taking absolutely no responsibility and
said "well he was too near the edge and will teach him a lesson". Absolutely
no accountability. He causes drama which can end in conflict and then plays
the victim. Very difficult behaviour to deal with and prove. My daughter
last year ended up in A&E in his care (just turned 5 and is very little) as
he let go of her on the monkey bars (yes I accept accidents happen in parks)
but he blamed another child distracting him. She fell on her head from quite
high but was fortunately OK. He said it wasn't his fault at all, "it was
this silly child distracting him". He used to chase them 'playing tig' on
the train platform when age 2 & 3 then tell them off if they stepped over
the yellow line. Again, not his fault. If I complain, makes me look like I'm
being fussy. He loves the platform of mediation and even more so threatens
court where he thinks will be a platform for him to play to play the victim
and a punishment for me. He wants overnight access. He sees the children
alternate Sats and twice midweek but not overnight as houseshares with 2/3
other guys who may have people staying over. Hasn't got appropriate sleeping
facilities. Truth is I don't trust him with the children. He appears on the
outside to want contact but every time I try to discuss their schooling or
sporting achievements, he turns the conversations immediately about himself
and his achievements. It's quite embarrassing at times esp at Parents
Evening which we attended together. He accuses others (myself included) of
behaviour that is most appropriate to him, eg: hostile, controlling etc..
His behaviour would make a saint slightly hostile and protective over their
children. What can I do long term? I was very sad when he chose not to have
contact with them (for their sake) but life was peaceful and fine without
these subtle unreasonable behaviour traits. He works in mental health as an
nursing assistant and seems to wallow in it. I think we will end up in court
because he is so unreasonble to deal with and loves the drama because of the
attention for himself. Will Cafcass pick up on these traits. It's invisible
in a way but very toxic within families who are together and even worse when
separated if that makes sense. Thanks very much

A.

These types of cases are very difficult. Ultimately, if you and your ex-husband cannot reach an agreement in mediation, then as a last resort then the Court will have to be involved. As it is your ex-husband who wishes to have overnight contact, your ex will have to make an application to Court for a contact order. Until he makes this application and the Court are in a position to make an order then any contact will have to be by agreement by you both

Once he does so the Court will set a date for a conciliation appointment, which will be attended by you both along with a CAFCASS officer, who will try and help resolve the contact arrangements. If an agreement cannot be reached at that first court appointment then the Judge will set down directions for the future of the case and this may involve a CAFCASS report. A CAFCASS officer would at a later date interview you and your ex partner and the children to ascertain what is in the best interests of the children and what recommendation they should make to the Court. It is likely that the court would order that once the CAFACSS report is available that there be a review appointment, which will give you and your ex an opportunity to try and resolve matters by agreement, once you have had the benefit of seeing the CAFCASS report and the recommendations. If that is not successful, a date for a Final hearing will be set and it is likely that both you and your ex will have to prepare statements setting out the reasons why contact cannot be agreed. The Court will only make a decision based on what they consider to be in the best interests of the children. It sounds like you have a good solicitor who will be able to help you through this process.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart

Q.

Hi, I have been trying to work with my exhusband for the last two
years but it is not working and now need legal help. My son lives with me
but my ex will take him without warning or change his fortnightly planned
visits to suite his commitments. We tried mediation but it failed as my ex
refuses to say what he wants. It appears everything is very much to hurt and
cause maximum disruption to me and my life through my son. How can I get
sole custody responsibility to help my son get stable and planned visitation
and prevent his being taken without warning?

A.

As you are the parent with care of the children you do not need to make an application to Court for sole residence. The Court have what is known as a "no order" principle and they will only make an order where an order is needed, i.e. if there is a dispute between the parents regarding where the child should live. It sounds as if the father accepts that you are the primary carer and in these circumstances the Court would say that a residence order is not necessary.

However, if the contact arrangements are in dispute and this cannot be resolved through mediation, your ex will have to make an application to Court for a contact order. Until he makes this application and the Court are in a position to make an order then any contact will have to be by agreement by you both. Therefore if he turns up at a time that has not been agreed you do not have to let your son go with him. It is always best for there to be a clear schedule of contact which both parties adhere so that is provides stability and certainty for the child. If your ex husband does make an application to Court then ultimately, either by agreement during the court process, or if necessary by the Court making an order, there will be a contact order in place which clearly sets out the times that contact is to take place.

If however you consider that your husband will not make an application to the Court and existing frustrating situation will continue you could make an application to Court for residence and contact which will force the issue.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart

Q.

My ex has PR for my 3 yr old daughter. We had split up way before I found out I was pregnant and we have not been a couple since. He has threatened me with violence, threatened to smash up my home and now threatened to abduct my daughter. Despite all this I have continued to let him see her but with me there and he is now threatening to take me to court as he feels I am 'denying her her right to see her Dad' - but I am terrified he is going to take her if I am not there and as he has family overseas, you hear such terrible stories of children who never come back. I am not against some contact, but am terrified he is going to snatch her or try and take her from her nursery. What can I do?

A.

Hi there

Thank you for your question. Do not be fearful of court proceedings because I'm sure the court will be interested to hear about his threatening behaviour towards you. Moreover, if you genuinely believe that there is a risk of him removing your daughter abroad, you should consider applying to the court yourself. You may apply for a Residence Order which means that she must always be returned to your care after agreed contact. You should also apply for a Prohibited Steps Order which means that he cannot remove her from your care unless for agreed contact. If ever she is late returning home and you feel that he may be attempting to abduct her, please alert the police immediately. They will issue a port alert to prevent him and her leaving the country. You should also make sure that you retain her passport and write to the passport office to alert them of the risk so that they do not issue a copy passport to him.

If he has any other nationality, you need advice on whether he may remove her using another passport. Please do not hesitate to get specific legal advice even if it is a fixed fee hour session with your local family law specialist who is a member of resolution. You may also be entitled to free legal advice.

Good luck.

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

i want to move away with my daughter as my ex is causing loads of trouble heartache when we have contact he isnt on the birth cert do i have to tell him where i move to ?? and can he find me?

A.

Hi there

Thank you for the question. You tell me that contact between your daughter and her father is not working and you want to move location to get away from him.

You need to decide whether contact is in the best interests of your daughter. She has the right to maintain a relationship with both parents unless doing so will put her at risk of harm. I'm not sure why contact isn't working but you could try mediation services to discuss the problem with him. If you try to find a way of communicating the problem to him including via a lawyers letter, it may encourage him to reconsider his actions and improve the contact. Do let him know how his behaviour is impacting on your daughter and also suggest ways in which it can be improved. Your daughter will then benefit from a relationship with both of you if there are no risks of harm.

If at any time you are fearful and / or at risk of serious harm, please alert the police and think about injunction proceedings. It is difficult to give specific advice without knowing more about why you feel contact is not working.

If you were not married, if your ex is not on the birth certificate and if your child was born before 1st December 2003, it may be that he does not have parental responsibility for her. Parental responsibility is a bundle of rights and duties in respect of the child. Essentially, the right to be involved in her life and the important decision making such as where she should live. It is a criminal offence for one parent to remove a child out of the jurisdiction without the consent of the other parent with parental responsibility unless there is a residence order in place that allows removal for up to a month without consent. If he does not have parental responsibility, there is nothing preventing you from relocating abroad. You do not need his consent to move within the jurisdiction. Please note that he may apply to the court for an order to stop you moving or, for you to return with your daughter.

Parental responsibility is not difficult to obtain and it may be granted to your ex fairly swiftly by applying to the court. Your ex may also make an application for contact with your daughter. Most importantly, you cannot hide from government authorities. Even if your ex does not have an up to date address for you, he may still apply to the court for a contact order and parental responsibility. The court will contact government agencies for an address and serve you with the application accordingly. Your address will not be disclosed to your ex however, the court will retain it and order you to deal with the contact issue.

Moving away is tempting but it may not be the answer. Do not hesitate to contact your family law solicitor for specific advice.

I hope that helps

Best regards,

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

Hi there

Just wondering if you could help me. My ex husband has taken my son of me and I have tried endless efforts to get intouch with my son. He is still at school and they wont get involved as there main concern is my son. I want to try and see my son from school but my ex picks and drops him of at school so I can have no contact. He has threatened me not to go to the house as he will call the police. This is a man that I had to get a restraining order on him when we first split up for harrassment and criminal damage. My son did live with me but then my ex talked him into going there. I dropped him off at school one morning and I havent had contact with him since. Neither has his sister or his grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.....

My son is 15 next week, my solicitors have told me that I shouldnt fight in court for him because if my son was to say he wanted to stay with his father it would have all been a waste of money. All I want is contact with my son, and so does his family.

I have just found out that my ex is to take my son to Australia this may be for a holiday - or it may be to live??? I dont want him to leave the country for either. I have parental rights and the court gave me parental responsibilty 2 years ago.

What can I do????

Please Please Please can you help???

A.

Hi

This is something that needs to be explored by the court and possibly a Cafcass officer.

Unless you and or the other members of the family are a risk to him, he should be maintaining contact. Particularly if there is a risk of permanent relocation, the matter needs to go before the court.

Do take precautions to prevent removal such a notifying the police, retaining passports etc. You may contact the passport office to prevent another passport being issued.

It just seems too odd to leave uninvestigated regardless of his age.

Best regards,

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors

Q.

I have residency of my two children age 5 and 3 with contact order for weekend overnight access with their father and prohibitive steps not to take the children out the county. He has since moved out of the county and i am concerned as he insists he will take the children there. He is unreliable in terms of sticking to his contact times and verbally abusive when collecting the children. he also psychologically manipulates them against me and attacks me verbally in front of them.
Please help me. what can i do?

A.

Thank you for your question.

I am not clear to who the Prohibited Steps order applies to? If it applies to both of you, then if there is an order preventing either of you taking the children out of the county, and their Father has moved out of the county, then the matter needs to go back to the Court for consideration, as the contact order and prohibitive steps order are in direct contradiction to each other. This needs to be done as a matter of urgency so that the court can review the contact arrangements.

If the prohibitive steps order only applies to you removing the children from the county, then there is no reason why their Father cannot continue to have contact with the children in accordance with the order for contact in another county.

However I would suggest you seek urgent legal advice about the exact terms of the prohibited steps order.

I would also suggest that the arrangements for the handover times are reviewed as these are times when you former partner is able to be verbally abusive to you. Might a third party be able to assist with handover so that you are not actually present, i.e. you remain in the house whilst the children are at the front door leaving or returning with their Father? I appreciate handover is a very stressful time for all, and it is particularly important for the children that this goes as smoothly as possible. Alternatively, unless you are bound by the court order, could you move the collection and return point to a public place where your former partner is hopefully less likely to be abusive?

Unfortunately, your former partner being unreliable about times for contact is a bit more difficult. Under the terms of the contact order, you must make the children available for contact at set times, and your former partner must return them at the time ordered. You do not have to make the children available at other times, unless you have agreed to do so for any other reason. If he therefore turns up early or on a different day, and it is not his time for contact, then the children do not need to be made available. Turning up late to collect is something that is not easy to resolve. If their father is turning up after the children's bed time and they are in bed asleep, you can say he must come back and pick them up in the morning, but other than that, you must make the children available.

If your former partner continually returns the children late (and by this I mean hours late, not just minutes late) then you may have to consider returning the matter to court for enforcement proceedings. The court can then consider whether it is appropriate to take any action against your former partner.

I hope this helps.

Emma Benyon-Tinker
WBW Solicitors

Q.

Hi there, im a mother of 3 and recently split with my childrens father after 5 years of hell. After splitting up i have a residency order of all my children and he still gets regular contact, but still to this day is constantly on the phone and sending threatening messages, he even turned up at my door and stole one of our children who i got back after contacting the police and my solicitor. I just feel its never going to get better and hes making my life hell!! All i want to do is move away with my amazing new partner and get on with our lives with my kids as i know we will have a much better happier amazing life with lots of opportunities but am scared he is going to stop me. Can he actually stop this from happening? I live in scotland but want to move up north, down south or even one day abroad!!

A.

Thanks for your question. You do not tell me whether your order was made in Scotland or England.

As you live in Scotland I will assume that the order was made in Scotland and as a result Scottish Law would apply. I am a solicitor qualified to advise upon the law in England and Wales and therefore would suggest you go and seek advice from a specialist family lawyer who deals with Scottish Law. The Law is slightly different in both jurisdictions which is why you should speak with a Family Solicitor in Scotland.

If the order was made in England and Wales, perhaps you could confirm this via the website, and I will then be able to deal more fully with your query.

Emma Benyon-Tinker
WBW Solicitors

Q.

I have been divorced for 12 years, I have 3 chidren from that marriage. We are still living in the matrimomnial home, my ex husband has never paid maintanence or paid any mortgage or bills on the property which is solely in his name, we do not know of his whereabouts, could you advise me on how i can find him to get him to court as I want my name on the house and his removed. Thankyou

A.

Thank you for your email. There are many ways you could use to try to find him, if you still have details of his family or friends then you may want to contact them first to see if they know where he is, you could also contact his last known employer if you have these details. You could see if he registered on the electoral roll to vote in an area if you have an idea which area he could be living in. In addition if you know which area he is in you could put an advertisement out in the paper asking him to make contact, or searching via social networking sites to see if you can make any initial contact that way.

You mention that you have children with him, if any are under 16 you may wish to contact the Child Support Agency regarding an application for maintenance, and they may be able to carry out enquiries for the purposes of the maintenance claim which could assist you.

In relation to getting the property transferred into your sole name, there are a number of factors that the Court will take into consideration before making any such order. I would recommend that you obtain legal advice as to your chance of success before you decide to look for him, as it maybe that the chances of having the whole property transferred into your sole name are slim dependant on the circumstances.

I hope this helps, good luck with your search.

Nadia Salem

GT Stewart Solicitors

Q.

My niece and her partner are having arguments re his visiting rights re their two year old son. There is no agreed schedule when he can take him for the weekend & he often phones giving her only two days' notice. He is living with another woman & her son and has said to my niece that she has taken drugs intravenously in the past, that her son has been on the 'at risk' register and they both smoke heavily in the flat. She would like to find out what his home situation is before she lets their son stay for weekends.my niece and her partner are having arguments re his visiting
rights re their two year old son.

A.

Thank you for your email. I would recommend that if your niece feels able to speak to her ex-partner directly then she should try to speak to him about her concerns, and see if he can explain the situation at home, or even allow her to visit if she is concerned about the living conditions or the care her son will receive if he were to stay overnight. If she does not feel that she can speak to him directly then she may wish to ask a solicitor to write to her ex-partner about her concerns, and perhaps a proposal for contact, if your niece would like the contact arrangements to be defined.

Your niece may also want to try mediation so that she can discuss contact arrangements with her ex-partner directly with an independent third party present. Mediation is a process in which an experienced and qualified mediator will help your niece and her ex-partner both reach joint decisions on the care of their son and contact arrangements. Mediation also aims to improve communication between both people so that they are able to build an amicable relationship and resolve problems that may arise in future without the need for external help. Your niece could contact a mediator directly, or she could see if a solicitor can help initially, and if they are not able to help or an agreement is not reached then her solicitor can refer the matter to a mediator.

Nadia Salem

GT Stewart Solicitors

Q.

Hi, I have a 8 yr old daughter and I have a residence order with contact for my ex partner every fortnight but my ex hasn't kept in contact with our daughter for the past 2 and a half years now, my ex's parents who haven't even seen my daughter in the past 5 years have sent me a letter from a solicitor asking for contact I am in a new relationship and happily married with 4 children including my daughter from my ex and my wife is looking after our family whilst I'm away where do I stand being out of the country can they still go ahead with court proceedings or will they have to wait until I'm back, my daughter doesnt even know these people the last time she saw them was when they wouldn't return her from visitation and social services uncovered that our daughter was being emotionally abused and intimidated into saying she doesn't wish to live with me, now my daughter bursts out into tears even if I mention their names even the school head mistress has seen my daughter in distress in fear of being taking away when her grandmother turned up outside her school a year ago, Can grandparents suddenly do this I thought they didn't have a right to and need to apply for leave of court to do so if they do apply for leave of court what will the court consider in order to grant them to make an application for contact they have no pre existing relationship will they be granted leave to make an application for contact and if they are granted it how will court proceedings go ahead if I'm not even in the country for them to serve notice on, and do I have to give the grandparents any contact by law and will the court consider my daughters wishes feelings as she's 8 years old and can express herself quite freely I believe this is just another attempt to disrupt me and my family since I parted from this family I've had nothing but false allegations arrests court cases and im sick of it I've been living peacefully for a few years now this please any advice would be much appreciated.

A.

Before a grandparent makes an application to Court for leave to make an application for contact, they should first invite you to mediation to see if an agreement can be reached.   When the Court consider whether or not leave should be granted, they will take into account the grandparents connection with the child, the reason for the application and any risk that the application would disrupt the child's life as well as a broad assessment of the case in general.

You would need to be served with notice of the application.  If leave is granted, then your daughter's views will certainly be taken into account and considering her age this will be achieved by her being interviewed by a CAFCASS officer.  The CAFCASS officer will then interview all the other parties and make a recommendation to the Court as to what, if any, contact should be ordered between the grandparents and your daughter.  

The Court will make a decision based on what they consider to be in the best interests of the child.  

You might wish to write back to the grandparents solicitor explaining your reasons as why you do not think contact is in the best interests of the child and it will then be for the grandparents to decide what further action they wish to take.   It is only once the Court have made an order that you would be obliged to make the child available for contact with the grandparents.

Caroline Bourn

Dawson Hart

Q.

Hello, I am just wondering if going to court to obtain Parental responsibility for my two daughters is worth the turmoil and hassle - the mother is just about to move them nearly 100 miles away - something I have had to accept and offer to do half of the journeys so I can maintain my current fortnightly contact. However, I found out that I do not have responsibility as we were not married and they were born before 2003.

Although there has never been an issue with me not being involved with school and medical issues, my biggest concern is that she could get married and have this other person get responsibility without my say so, therefore leaving them as the sole carer of my children should anything happen to her.

She is refusing to sign the paperwork despite me outlining my concerns saying that nothing is going to change and I will get the children, but my trust and confidence in her has been shattered by the way she has already arranged a move, new schools without even telling me until just over a month ago. I value your comments.

A.

The application for a Parental Responsibility Order is a relatively straightforward application.   It is important to have parental responsibility as not only does it give you the right to be consulted on all important matters regarding the children, but if something were to happen to the children's mother and she has appointed for example a new husband or another relative as guardian of the children in her Will, then that appointment would be effective as you would not have parental responsibility. 

Bearing in mind your involvement with the children's lives and your regular contact, I do believe that the Court would make a Parental Responsibility Order in your favour.   I can see no reason as to why your former partner would not agree to enter in a Parental Responsibility Agreement with you.   If she is agreeable, then you can obtain the Parental Responsibility Agreement form online or at your Local County Court.  

Before you make an application to Court for a Parental Responsibility Order, you should invite your ex partner to go to mediation with you to see if this issue could be resolved at mediation.  

Your ex partner's remarriage would not automatically give her new husband parental responsibility of the children.  He would have to make an application to Court for parental responsibility and you would be served notice of that application.  

Caroline Bourn

Dawson Hart

Q.

My fiance just had a new parenting plan put into plae for her daughter.. now the father of her son is the second respondant on this new plan. Is that saying the are stilled married.

A.

It would seem from your question that there are ongoing proceedings in respect of your fiancée's children, and it would seem that the Father of her son has simply been added to the proceedings as a Respondent.  This does not imply that they are still married, it is simply that there is a need for the  Father to be involved in the proceedings as they relate to one of his children.

I hope this answers your query.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors LLP

 

Q.

hi how r u i got something to ask if u can help im going through seperation with my ex and i want to know how does 50/50 percent works im still married to her on paper but im going through hell i want to go to court for pr does it mean the money she gets fro children wont be shared or how does it work, many thanks

A.

Hi

I'm well thank you for asking and thank you for your question.

You say that you are going to court for 'pr'.  I assume that your mean parental responsibility of your child(ren).  Whether or not you secure parental responsibility will not impact on the financial settlement.  You may mean to ask whether she will get more money as the 'main carer' for the children.  The answer to that depends on how much money there is in the pot to divide and what your respective needs are.  Essentially, the first thing to do is to ensure that the children are adequately housed and maintained.  If she can only do that by having more than 50% of the pot then that is what is likely to happen.

 I hope that helps ;)

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

Hi, i am worried about my 4year old son as i am sure that his mother and her new partner whom he lives with are using drugs, they are out partying regularly and not providing appropriate care for my son. What can i do to investigate/report it? is it a police matter, social services issue, or some other agency issue? I dont know who to turn to for help or how to report the issue? please help!

A.

Hi

I am sorry to hear this.  I assume that your relationship with the ex is not such that you can ask her the question directly? If you can, please do so or even write her a letter possible through your solicitor detailing the concerns.   If this does not work and you really are concentred and feel that your son is at risk of harm, make a report to social services.  Social services will then carry out the necessary checks for you.  If it is urgent i.e. you believe that your son is in immediate danger, call the police.

You are correct to ask for help

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

my children have been placed on protection register cos of a silly miss judgement of biting my child to show her biting her sister is wrong ,her mum reported it to social services but she had done it in the past ,she reported it due to our break up and wants to now nail  me for residence ,where the children want to be with me too, my eldest wants to live with me ,services have said for me to complete a parental assesment and if ,which i think ill fly through ,there shows no concern then they say ill have no problem with shared residence will i wont i can you help?????

A.

Hi

Whether or not you obtain a Residence Order will depend on what is in the best interests of the children.  Once social services have completed their assessment, they will take a view on this and report back.  If this is an isolated incident, there may not be a problem.  Shared residence does not have to be equal time spent with each parent.  It is more about sharing the child's time between parents in a way that is most appropriate for them taking into consideration their needs.  If possible, the authorities will want to keep the children together.  You could try attending mediation services to reach an agreement with your ex.  You have some way to go in raising the children and therefore, it is best to try and find a way to work together in order to make decisions that are best for the children. 

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

i am just wanting to no how long it would take to get residence of my 3 month old niece she has been in hospital with fluid on the brain and because theres no medical explanation for this they have got a protection order against my brother and his girlfriend they are due to go back to court tomorrow and intend on applying for a care order which means my neice will be going into foster care when shes discharged from hospital tomorrow and i really want her to come andstay with me but not sure how long this would take also if social services getb the care order will my brother lose all his parental rights thanks for taking the time to read my issues.

A.

Hi there

Thank you for your question.  You will need to make your application straight away with or without legal representation and alert social services.  They will carry out the necessary safety assessments and decide whether they can support your application. This can take time but if you have a solicitor to make all of the right noises and chase, the time can be reduced.  You need to get a solicitor specialising in children matters.  The sooner you alert social services to your intentions, the better.  They may then support your application if it is considered to be in the best interests of the child.  It may be that they will need to ensure from you that the child is not in the company of your brother and his girlfriend until they have carried out all investigations.  They need to err on the side of caution. 

Good luck.

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

Q.

hi.. i have had a resident order for 2 years for both my kids,mother was found neglectfull ect.anyway now after 2 years shes has applied for the resident order..i cant afford the lawyers fees as the judge has instructed a fact finding assment over 3 days!

A.

I am afraid you have little choice but to go to Court and oppose your ex partner's application. If you feel that you do not wish to represent your self but cannot afford legal fees, consider instructing a direct access barrister. These barrister take instructions directly from you , so the fees can be reduced as you are not paying for both solicitors and barristers. Also you can represent yourself up to the hearing and just instruct the barrister for the hearing itself.  Information about direct access barristers can be found on the Bar Council website http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/

The Court have previously found that you are the best person to care for the children and awarded a residence order in your favour. Your ex will have to prove to a court that it is in the best interests of the children for the status quo to be changed and for the children to now live with her. This is a high hurdle to pass.  The Court will only make a decision based on what is in the children's best interests and depending upon the children's ages their views can also be taken into account.

If you do choose to represent yourself, there are various support group for people without legal representation and you will find information about these services on the internet or at your local court.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart LLP

 

Q.

Hi can you advise me please as to what i can do about my ex husband
constantly letting my children down when he aranges to see them. He has
access through a court order which he has never stuck to from day one
despite it only being 8 hours a month!! He has only seen them four times in
the last four years and one of those times for just an hour. This is very
upsetting for my children as they feel totally unimportant to him and i feel
is detramental to their mental welfare. Please what can i do?

A.

If you are able to speak to your ex partner, you should firstly try and resolve matters between you. If your ex partner cannot see the children as regularly as the contact order provides for, would he agree to a new arrangement, which he could commit to?  If so, you can ask the court to  incorporate your new agreement into a contact order so it is binding upon you both.  If you and your ex cannot reach an agreement directly then you could try to persuade your ex to go to mediation with you to discuss this.  Some mediators are also trained to talk with the children to obtain their views and depending on the ages of your children this might be appropriate.

You should be careful to ensure that you do not breach the contact order by not making the children available in line with the terms of the contact order.   If the children have activities that conflict with the time that they should be spending with their father under the terms of the order, you should give the father notice and offer him alternative contact. 

If you feel that the current situation is unworkable , then you may have to consider applying to the court to vary the contact order. You should keep notes of the times when your ex partner has not turned up for contact and the reasons he gave, as this will form the basis of your application to vary the contact order.

Unfortunately, save for reducing the time the children spend with your ex, there is little a Court can do to make your ex see the children.

Mahie Abey

Dawson Hart LLP

Q.

I have found myself to be in a very difficult situation. I moved from Derby to just across the border into Scotland in May. I have 2 children 4 and 2. My eldest is from a previous relationship and he has a good relationship with his dad. His dad moved to Scotland too in order to maintain regular contact. However my youngest sons father (whom im currently being divorced from) took me to court before I moved and a contact order was granted giving him alternate weekends meeting halfway (approx 120 mile drive). Things have been extremely hard, he's made endless allegations to social services (all of which have been proven to be false), cant pay maintenance as out of work and I need financial help to meet terms of contact order. But now my eldest sons dad has also lost job so no income for kids. I work all hours I can but cant afford 200 per month in fuel. I can no longer use my friends car and train is 10 hour round trip which isn't fair on kids. My eldest sons father is now moving to Inverness so I will have a 4 hour journey to get my eldest to see his dad along with my youngest seeing his. I cannot afford the contact order and have no means of getting there. I have always offered for him to come here but refuses. Cant see solicitor here as apparently a court order made in england will remain its jurisdiction for 1 year. Cant take it back to court as 4 hours to get there and legal aid used up for previous proceedings. Now it appears my ex husband (youngest sons father) is going for an enforcement order. Please help

A.

Thank you for your email.

If your youngest son's Father is taking the matter back to court for an enforcement order, then you should ask the court to look again at the circumstances of the original order and ask for changes to be made. 

The court will not just look to enforce the order without looking at the circumstances and on any application to the court for children issues, the court can make any order that it thinks is right in the circumstances.

You will need to consider alternative proposals for contact, such as perhaps only one weekend per month, but then longer periods of time in the school holidays; although your son is young, it is better to make an arrangement now which then would not need to be changed once he started school.  You will also need to consider how to arrange the handovers and make suggestions about what is possible.  The Court may need to see the type of communication which you have had but they will need to see that you re being positive about the situation

The court can then decide on the new arrangements and what the new handover arrangements should be. 

Despite the jurisdiction of the courts being in England and Wales, you could ask the court to transfer the case to the nearest English court to where the children live.  Although the court do not have to do this, it is worth suggesting particularly if you live just over the border.

If new proceedings are brought by your youngest son's Father, then you should be entitled to make a fresh application for legal aid if you are still financially eligible.  You will need to instruct a solicitor in England to do so but hopefully that should not be too far for you if you are just over the border in Scotland?   Legal aid is being brought to an end on April 2013, and after this time, you would have to either act in person or pay privately.  You may want to bring it back to court yourself before this time if you are eligible to secure funding.

Alternatively, you could suggest you both attend mediation to try and resolve the issues and reach a new agreement on contact before new court proceedings are commenced.  You would need to approach a mediator who had the appropriate facilities such as a web camera so that you did not need to travel.

I hope this helps, and wish you the best of luck if these court proceedings are brought.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

I have found myself to be in a very difficult situation. I moved from Derby to just across the border into Scotland in May. I have 2 children 4 and 2. My eldest is from a previous relationship and he has a good relationship with his dad. His dad moved to Scotland too in order to maintain regular contact. However my youngest sons father (whom im currently being divorced from) took me to court before I moved and a contact order was granted giving him alternate weekends meeting halfway (approx 120 mile drive). Things have been extremely hard, he's made endless allegations to social services (all of which have been proven to be false), cant pay maintenance as out of work and I need financial help to meet terms of contact order. But now my eldest sons dad has also lost job so no income for kids. I work all hours I can but cant afford 200 per month in fuel. I can no longer use my friends car and train is 10 hour round trip which isn't fair on kids. My eldest sons father is now moving to Inverness so I will have a 4 hour journey to get my eldest to see his dad along with my youngest seeing his. I cannot afford the contact order and have no means of getting there. I have always offered for him to come here but refuses. Cant see solicitor here as apparently a court order made in england will remain its jurisdiction for 1 year. Cant take it back to court as 4 hours to get there and legal aid used up for previous proceedings. Now it appears my ex husband (youngest sons father) is going for an enforcement order. Please help

A.

Thank you for your email.

If your youngest son's Father is taking the matter back to court for an enforcement order, then you should ask the court to look again at the circumstances of the original order and ask for changes to be made. 

The court will not just look to enforce the order without looking at the circumstances and on any application to the court for children issues, the court can make any order that it thinks is right in the circumstances.

You will need to consider alternative proposals for contact, such as perhaps only one weekend per month, but then longer periods of time in the school holidays; although your son is young, it is better to make an arrangement now which then would not need to be changed once he started school.  You will also need to consider how to arrange the handovers and make suggestions about what is possible.  The Court may need to see the type of communication which you have had but they will need to see that you re being positive about the situation

The court can then decide on the new arrangements and what the new handover arrangements should be. 

Despite the jurisdiction of the courts being in England and Wales, you could ask the court to transfer the case to the nearest English court to where the children live.  Although the court do not have to do this, it is worth suggesting particularly if you live just over the border.

If new proceedings are brought by your youngest son's Father, then you should be entitled to make a fresh application for legal aid if you are still financially eligible.  You will need to instruct a solicitor in England to do so but hopefully that should not be too far for you if you are just over the border in Scotland?   Legal aid is being brought to an end on April 2013, and after this time, you would have to either act in person or pay privately.  You may want to bring it back to court yourself before this time if you are eligible to secure funding.

Alternatively, you could suggest you both attend mediation to try and resolve the issues and reach a new agreement on contact before new court proceedings are commenced.  You would need to approach a mediator who had the appropriate facilities such as a web camera so that you did not need to travel.

I hope this helps, and wish you the best of luck if these court proceedings are brought.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

My ex husband and I divorced 16 years ago. He has never paid for his two disabled children and refused to have contact with them. His refusal to provide any emotional or financial support resulted in me having to give up work to look after the children 11 years ago. On all this time we have lived on the breadline but as the children got older they became more mentally disabled. Should he be found would he owe the benefit agency the money they paid out to keep his two children for 11 years? I have discovered his whereabouts, and is financially very comfortable whereas I still struggle to look after our adult children.

What is the law on this ?

A.

Thank you for your email. 

I appreciate that you may want your former husband to pay now for the children but he would not be made to pay back any money to the benefits agency that you have received whilst bringing up your children, unless there was already a CSA assessment from that time which they could enforce.  You would have been entitled to benefit, whether your former husband was paying child maintenance to you or not. 

I have assumed your children are over the age of 18 as you describe them as adults.  If they are aged under 18 years, then you can still make an application for child maintenance, but it will not be backdated, and would simply run from the date of the application.

You could also apply to top up the maintenance, under the Children Act 1989, Schedule 1.  This is a provision for parents to pay extra sums for their children's benefits, usually education, but as your children are disabled, the court could order your former husband to pay you a lump sum to provide items for the children that they need.  The court would assess how much your former husband could afford to pay as well as assessing what the children's need.  Sometimes when the children are disabled, this provision can be extended past the children's 18th birthday, but in order to advise whether this would be applicable to you, I would need further information.

I wish you well for the future.

Emma Benyon-Tinker

WBW Solicitors

Q.

My ex husband has access to our two children but for the last four years he has seen them just four times. He has not stuck to the agreement which was only eight hours a month and has contiously arranged visitation and then does not turn up. This has had a terrible effect on my children is there anything i can do to stop this? He has both their phone numbers and contacts them making these false promises of seeing them. Kind regards.

A.

Hi and thank you for your question.

It is the right of the child to maintain contact with both parents unless doing so puts them at risk of harm.

At the moment, your ex is being very unreliable and does not seem committed to seeing the children as much as they need to see him.  If it is possible, try to communicate the impact of this to your ex.  If this is not possible and / or, if he is not interested in making any changes then you should make a decision as to how best your children can be prevented from being hurt. 

It would be very easy to say 'stick to the agreement or have no contact' and indeed at times this is tempting.  However, I feel that you need to assess whether some contact between the children and their father is better than no contact at all.  No contact at all is a big decision that will need to be explained to your children time and time again in future.  I agree that constantly being let down is unacceptable. Try to make your decision based on what the children would want.  This is not easy but you know your children better than we do.  It would not be unreasonable for you to give your ex an ultimatum if that would be in the best interests of the children.  If you agree that the actual contact that does take place is beneficial and enjoyable for the children, you may want to take some advice on how best to explain your ex's unreliability to them so that they deal with it in a different way.

You could try using mediation services or allow the matter to return to court so that the court can assess the harm and order accordingly. 

Good luck.

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP 

Q.

Violent ex wants access to my 3 year old child. he raped me but got away with it in court. hes bust my nose whilst holding my daughter strangled me untill ive passed out. thrown me across room. smashes a glass over her and a picture frame. she has just got all confidence back. i dont want him to worm his way back in and hurt her. she starts school soon and i know it will affect her. we are not ready yet was only a year ago since this has happened and 4 month since it went to court. we havent had time to move forward from the horrific past that haunts us. my daughter screams if me and my recent partner play fight. i need advice please.

A.

Hi

I am so sorry to hear about this.  Do not hesitate in saying no to your ex.  If you cannot do this directly because you fear his reaction, please consult your local family lawyer to do it for you.  Contact is the right of the child however, only if contact does not put the child at risk of harm.  In your case, the court would need to assess the risk posed to your child and decide whether contact should be permitted or not.  Do not hesitate in getting advice about this from your solicitor please.  It may be that your are entitled to public funding therefore you may not need to pay for the advice. If at any time you feel unsafe, please contact the police. There are several things that can be done to protect you from hasrassment, threats and violence.  

I wish you luck.  

Harjit Sarang

Best Solicitors LLP

 

Q. I have a contact order with my ex partner over our daughter. We have now been to mediation which has been really successful and neither of us wish to return to court (we have a court date next month). Do we have to return? Do we have to do anything about our current court order as it bears no resemblance to our agreement in mediation?
A. It is great that you and your former partner have been to mediation and been able to reach an agreement. As you have a Court date next month I would suggest that both you and former partner go along to the Court that day with your mediated agreement and ask the Court to vary your current contact order in accordance with your new agreement.
If you and your former partner actually have solicitors representing you then you could show the solicitors the mediated agreement and they can then lodge an order at Court in advance of the Court appointment and provided the Court have approved the agreement you and your former partner would not need to attend court.

Caroline Bourn
Dawson Hart LLP
Q. Hi I currently have a shared residency order for my 5 year old son. His father has recently started a new job that would mean he would be out of the country for two weeks and then back home for two weeksevery month. This was not mentioned when we agreed to our current order. He is expecting to leave our son with his grandparents whom my ex partner currently lives with. The order only refers to myself and my ex partner. Where do I stand with wanting to have my child on the two weeks that he is out of the country. Do I need to go back to court or will his absence automatically put our son in my care?
A. The fact that your child’s father is out of the country unfortunately does not automatically put your son back into your care.

The joint Residence Order will stand unless it is varied by agreement or by the Court making a further Order.

I would first of all approach your former partner to see if an agreement can be reached between the two of you about altering the terms of the Shared Residence Order. If that is not successful then mediation might be a suitable way forward. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your former partner about changing the Residence Order then you will need to apply to the Court to vary the Residence Order.

Kind regards

Caroline

Caroline Bourn
Dawson Hart LLP
Q. : Hello, i was wondering if you could help me. Social services are involed in my and my child. I am 18. Basically because i was abused in the past my a family member and by my childs father social services are saying my daughter is in great danger. But i dont understand why? I left my ex partner and called the police out to keep me and my daughter safe. And when i was a child it all went to court and he was put in a reabilitation centre for 3 years. Anyway social services are now saying that my daughters at risk and saying that i have to go into foster care with her because they need to watch my parenting. But noone has any concerns except my social worker.
Everytime she comes round she always threaterns me saying 'If you dont do what we say we will remove you child'. Everytime and every sentance they say that. I know they cant do this. Even the police said they cant.
But i just wanted to know are they aloud to do this? My child is in no danger because i dont see or speak to the people who raped me. And can they go by 'hear say'?
.. Thank you.
A. Thank you for your email. It is always very important for you to be fully aware of what the Local Authority's concerns are. I anticipate that the Local Authority have concerns with regard to your daughter's father and the family member, both of whom have behaved inappropriately towards you in the past. It seems from the brief information that you have provided that you have tried to take protective measures to keep your daughter safe. I anticipate that the Local Authority may have other concerns bearing in mind that they wish you to enter a mother and child placement so that they can do an assessment of your parenting skills. This will not just be with regard to your ability to protect your daughter but also all of the basic parenting skills which are required to look after a child.

It is important that you co-operate with the Local Authority as much as you are able. Clearly their plan is for you to enter a mother and child placement but this can not take place without your agreement.

At present the Local Authority are not able to remove your daughter from your care. The way that this would be allowed to happen, would be for the Local Authority to make an application to the Court for a Care Order and which would give the Local Authority parental responsibility for a child. Parental responsibility is all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authorities which a natural parent has in relation to a child and their property.

At this stage, you have the day to day care of your daughter and therefore have parental responsibility for her and make decisions with regard to her welfare and upbringing. If the Local Authority is granted a Care Order, this would give them overriding parental responsibility for her and they would make the decisions but are under a duty to consult with you as another adult with parental responsibility.
Ultimately if an Interim Care Order was granted, this would mean that the Local Authority would be able to remove your daughter from your care.

It is important that you receive advice with regard to Social Services'
ongoing involvement with yourself and your daughter. It does seem that it is now at quite a crucial stage where you will have to make a decision as to whether or not you wish to co-operate with the Local Authority's plan for yourself and your daughter to enter a Local Authority mother and child placement.
I would urge you to seek an appointment with a Solicitor in your area specialising in this type of family law.

I hope this helps.

Best regards.

Emma Benyon-Tinker
Solicitor
Family Department

www.wbw.co.uk
Q. Hello, I hope you can give me a bit of advice please. I split with my ex partner (never married) nearly a year ago, in that time he has threatened to kill me, been verbally adusive on a scale I cannot explain, I was advised by the police to take out an injunction which is now in place for another 5 months. I have a 7 year old son with him whom I have never denied or stopped access. I have agreed to whatever he wanted whenever he wanted and even when he has cancelled last minute I have just gone along with it for the sake of my son. As there is now an injunction in place he cannot communicate with me, his 2 sisters and brother have all tried to reason with him and say you can see your son every weekend from friday to a sunday if you want and his reply has been 'I dont want him that often, i only want him on a saturday every fortnight, but I want to go up the school to pick my son up as well'
this is the only part I have an issue with as I am up the school picking u my eldest son whom my ex has deeply upset and disowned him after being his 'dad' for 7 years. My ex has said he will take me to court to be allowed up the school.....even though I have offered 3 days a week which he doesnt want?? He said he wants to be free most weekends to work overtime, but again during the week I have uni lectures and a job in the evenings and his son is in childcare so it would be impossible to organise. Does he have a case just because he wants to 'bump' into me at the school not to mention cause my other son distress at seeing him picking up his brother. Please help if you can. Thank you.
A. Thank you for your question. It can be difficult to make arrangements for children particularly when you have had to obtain an injunction due to your former partner's behaviour.

If your former partner took the matter to court, the court would not
force him to spend time with your son more than he wanted too. The
courts are there to ensure that parents can see their children when this is being prevented, rather than compelling a reluctant parent to spend more time with their children. If your former partner only wants to see your son every other Saturday, than that is the arrangements that a Court would probably make and so one to accept.

The school pick up issue is slightly more tricky without more details about the domestic abuse which took place. Generally, if the matter went to court, the court would look at the details of what had taken place, the terms of the injunction, consider the risk to you and your children if your former partner were allowed to pick your son up from school. This assessment could take place in a number of ways.

If the court considered that the risk to you was too great, then not only would the court not allow your former partner to pick your son up from school but they may also consider that the contact he is having on a Saturday is not appropriate either. Alternatively if the court believes that the risk can be managed, then they may allow your former partner to pick up your son from school.

The court views the issue from the point of the child and in all cases considers what is in their bests interests whilst bearing in mind safety concerns given your former partner's behaviour.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes

Emma Benyon-Tinker
Solicitor
Family Department
ww.wbw.co.uk
Q. My husband lives in Orlando Florida. Two and a half years ago we separated and I moved back to the UK with our child. We are not divorced yet. He visits her in the uk twice a year and they have regular contact on Skype. He wants her to start visiting him when she turns 5 but I do not feel at all comfortable with her flying alone. Can he force this to happen? She would be terrified about going on an 8 hour flight without me. Obviously I would find a way to fly out there with her but if he wants her to stay for the summer holidays then I wouldnt be able to take the time off work. I'm worried about applying for a divorce in case this is forced to happen.
A. Hi

Thank you for your question. No you don't have to send your 5yr old on an 8hour flight alone and I can't imagine that any court would order you to do this. It is your child's right to maintain a relationship with her father however, she should not be put at risk in order for this to happen. The amount of and frequency of contact must be dependent on what is in her best interests. You could offer alternative contact such two weeks there and then perhaps he use his leave to fly over to see her here but apart from that, do not feel pressured to do something that you know your daughter is not comfortable with.

As for the divorce, this should not impact on the amount of and frequency of contact at all. You share legal/parental responsibility for your daughter and this will not change on divorce. You still need to consult one another regarding important decisions in her life and must not take her abroad without consent from the other.

Try to explain your concerns to him and reach a compromise. If there is any risk of him taking her out of the country without your consent, you should get advice immediately about obtaining a residence order from the court. This is an order stating that she must live with you. If there is a danger that he may refuse to send her back, you should obtain the order before she goes abroad.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang
Q. The mother of my partners kids has become a heroin addict and even tho she has some good months it has only been 5 months since she overdosed, last year her oldest found her overdosed and foaming at the mouth. Now she has decided to move almost 300 miles away and has asked the kids to go with her. The youngest is 13 and thinks she can save her Mum so she wants to go too but my partner and I have grave reservations about this. The social work have been involved but they are a joke and say if she wants to she can go but how can we ensure she is safe, can my partner take her to court and stop it or what can he do to ensure his little girl is safe??
A. Hi there and thank you for your question.

I am sorry to hear about this. You are right to have reservations. For as long as there is an addiction, there is a risk of harm at so many levels. Not only to herself but also to the children. You can certainly apply to the court for an urgent Prohibited Steps Order without giving her notice if need be. This is an order preventing her from taking the children from your partner. You may also wish to apply for a residence order stating that the children should live with you/your partner. Hopefully, she will reach out and get the help that she needs with the addiction. Slowly, she can then try to establish trust and be responsible for the children again. You are correct to identify the risk of harm and to enquire as to how it can be prevented.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang
Q. Hi this is a very long story, I shall keep it as breif as possible. My son has impregnated a girl, they have never been in a realtionship, there was much upset as she has come across and totally unstable, she would not have an abortion, and has already hit him once and done all the usual things ie writing on face book etc, to the point
where he cut all contact with her and told her to ocntact us when the baby is born ( there is also a possibility that it is not his) any way it is due in three weeks so he got back in contact with her to see if he could build the bridges so that he would be able to sort out co-parenting and finance etc, he was busy on a night when she wanted to see him and it has all kicked off again, we are now unsure how we stand and what to do next as this is causing our whole family unit a huge amount of stress, he has told her to contact him after the baby is born but how do we preceed?
A. Hi there and thank you for the question.

You say that the child may not be his. In order to establish paternity, the child's mother will need to consent to a DNA test. This can be done via the GP.

Your son should try and agree with the mother what contact he should have with the child. The level and frequency of contact will depend on what is appropriate for the child. This can be established shortly after birth. I wouldn't expect too much to begin with because the mother may be breast feeding on demand. I advise that he try to keep his relationship with mother amicable and try to work with her to agree the contact as and when is appropriate. If there is an absolute resistance to contact then he may see a solicitor with to discuss applying to the court for a contact order. If the mother will not co operate with a paternity test, you may also apply to the court for a declaration in that respect.

If there are any disagreements, go to see your local family law solicitor for advice. Your son has plenty of options available to him. I hope that helps.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law BEST Solicitors LLP
Q. My friend is a single mum of 10 year old whose father disappeared over 8 years ago. She has just found out that she leukaemia and is concerned that if anything happens to her that her ex-partner cannot get custody of his son. Is there anything she can do to prevent this? She is going to make me and another friend guardians for her son - but is this legally binding in the sense that we could say what is best for her son? Hopefully she will get through this illness, but obviously wants to make sure that her son's best interest is ensured. I would be grateful for any information. Thank you. Debbie
A.
I am sorry to read about this. Yes she is doing the right thing by appointing a guardian. If the father has parental responsibility for the little boy he may challenge this appointment at court. At that time, the court would need to decide whether it is in the child's best interests to remain with the guardian or the father. This decision can only be made by the court at the time. There are no guarantees but she should do all that she can do to make clear why she is appointing guardians. She may also wish to stipulate in a letter why she feels that it is not in the child's best interests to be with father. Some background on the relationship will be important and helpful for the courts in the event of a challenge.

I hope that helps.
Q. Hi, My husband and I divorced over 2 years ago and have a consent order in place. I currently live in the family home with our children and want to change the mortgage as the fixed rate is coming to an end. At prescent the mortgage and deeds are in both our names as the current mortgage provider wouldnt release my ex from either at the time I have discussed and arranged new mortgages with my ex (who agreeed in the first instance)only for him to back out at the last minute. I have now paid £600 in fees for 3 mortgages that havent gone through. Changing for a better rate doesnt affect him at all, I pay the mortgage and have paid all the fees. It is clear to me that his reasons are purely personnal (he has recently found out I have had a relationship with someone else) that should have no bearings on our financial matters. I paid £90 to see a solicitor, who agrees that he is being unfair, but the costs to follow this up further I cannot afford. I will struggle to pay the mortgage when it goes onto a variable rate, which he is aware of. He is either going to watch me struggle or force me to sell the house. Is there any action I can take without all the solicitors fees? I dont see how he should be allowed to force my hand like this and keep control over our lives.
A. Hi

I suggest a firm letter to him setting out what the alternative will be unless he cooperates. Unfortunately, without a court order, there is nothing more that can be done. You may want the letter to include a claim for your legal fees to be reimbursed should this matter proceed to court.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP
Q. Hi, My daughter is 6 months old, and has been breastfed only since day 1. Me and her father were never a couple, and he sees her twice a week at his convienence, with me around, but not over their shoulder. He wants to start seeing her on his own, but I do not feel comfortable with this. Her age, demand breastfed, and happy content baby she is, I dont want to jepodises her happiness. I feel all children should have a relationship with both parents, and I would never dream of not letting them spend time together. But above all I believe babies need their mothers at such a young age. He has threathend me with courts before, if this went to court what do you think would happen?Thank you
A. Hi

I sympathise with you. Is your daughter in a routine? This is such a special time for both of you. You are new parents albeit parenting separately. You need to work together and help each other establish relationships. It may be that she can see her father when she has been fed. At this age she may be feeding every 3/4 hours rather than on demand. It is admirable that you are not opposed to contact and that father wants to spend more time with his daughter alone. This allows him to establish his own relationship with her which is in her best interests. It also gives you some time to yourself. It sounds as though you both want the same thing. There is no reason why you cannot sit together and discuss the best way to achieve it. You should start by saying what your concerns are and ask him to make suggestions such as, taking her for a short period and then extending the time (I'm not sure whether you express milk but that may be an option in future?). There should be no need to talk courts at this stage. You will need to work together for the next 18 years so this is a good time to start working together. It is best to tackle it as a joint issue 'WE want our daughter to spend time with each of us, how can WE achieve it?'. 'Why don't we agree that you take her as soon as I have fed her and then bring her back in say 3 hours or earlier if she is unsettled?'. Try to keep things amicable and flexible. If he has any issues with your daughter and needs help, he is more likely to bring her back to you and ask for help if you have been supportive and approachable. If not, he may struggle and not seek help from you fearing 'I told you so' or 'no future contact'. This is a new experience for both of you, mistakes will be made but try to work through it together.

I hope that helps. There is no right or wrong. It is a matter of what is best for your daughter and how you can amicably agree on a solution. If you start off with confrontation, you may find the road ahead will be very stressful.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP

Q. my 15 year old daughter now lives with her dad and he is letting her go abroad next year with older girls without my consent ..is this allowed ?
A. Hi there

As a parent with parental responsibility you should be asked to consent to the trip. If you wish to prevent it, you have the option of applying to the court for a prohibited steps order. However, you may wish to discuss this amicably with your daughter first in order to establish the details of the holiday. It may be that given the information, you are willing to consent. If not, a court order would be the way forward.
Q. I have been attending court for two years denying my sons father visitation because of his addictions and serious concern for the welfare and safety of my son who also has autism and has no sense of danger, very little understanding of language and is non verbal. I stopped contact when my son was two as I figured it was an appropriate age to take action in protecting my son from feeling neglected because he would turn up for a couple of Saturdays then we wouldnt hear from him, for months. He has no other children and no experience with children, both his parents are alcoholics. He has failed court drug testing and has been engaging with community addictions. The contact center is not suitable environment for my son because of his needs and I would need to be present with him at all times to keep him safe unless I was leaving him with someone I trusted and he knew and that was fully trained in autism and could keep my son safe and understand his needs. The courts have went from this to that! Im just sick of it all and have just refused for a court social worker to see my son tomorrow as I feel its unnecessary and Im sick of them moving the goal posts because it is a complex case and they dont know where to go next! Am I in trouble? We have enough professionals in his life I strongly feel like ignoring every court date we dont need this and they need to do whats in my sons best interest not his dads all this fathers rights has made things very difficult for mums with concern about their children! We live in Northern Ireland
A. Hi there

Does your son have any professionals in his life that could assist you in reporting to the court as to what his needs are? If you can show how the current suggestions are inappropriate that may assist. The only thing that you can do is provide the court with as much information as possible. It may be that you refer the court officer to the professional. Do see your local family law solicitor for advice about putting together a list of your concerns regarding the current arrangement backed up with some expert advice. Not co operating with the court is not the answer because orders can be made in your absence.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP
Q. Hi, this is probably a normal thing to happen but I would like to know where I stand in regards to my ex partner. Had a bad relationship where he cheated and constantly lies to this date. He has a new partner who has banned him from talking to me. I have argued with him and he is using the fact I 'abuse' him not to have any contact with me. He has been in and out of my sons life from the start and had not supported us. He does pay through CSA, however he is not on the birth certificate as he did not turn up. His family have seen my son once and have no made any contact until his 1st birthday when they brought him presents. Their sudden interest shocked me. I have since had arguments with them. They have threatened me with court and say my ex will get joint custody even though his father is a stranger to him. I have put a restriction on visitation being I will be there with my son until he knows them and trust is built up and he knows how to care for our son. I have asked him to go to mediation but since then he has changed his number so the company cannot contact him. Is he just able to get away with walking away from his son, it is really upsetting. I really want my son to know his father.
A. Hi

Thank you for your enquiry.

It is a shame that your ex will not communicate with you even through a mediator. If he is alleging that you 'abuse' him, this would be reason to avoid mediation. If all other attempts to reason with him have failed, you may wish to contact your local family law solicitor to write to him with a list of the current concerns. You should stipulate that you are concerned about his lack of contact with/commitment to, your son. It is your son's right to maintain a relationship with his father and paternal family unless doing so would put him at risk of harm. His parents seem to be interested. Is this a relationship that can be repaired? You may wish to consider mediating with the grandparents in order to open lines of communication. If they wish to have a relationship with your son, they may be able to communicate with your ex on your behalf.

I regret to advise that the court will not force him to see your son for obvious reasons. Trying to repair your relationship with his parents may be the only way forward. The fact that they are so interested in their grandchild is positive.

I hope that helps.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP
Q. I obtained a non molestation order against my ex without notice. He attended the first hearing and objected to the order. He offered an undertaking which I refused to accept, so the Court ordered submission of further evidence first by me then by him and a final hearing is set for end of this month. Meanwhile he has breached the order twice and is going to trial at Magistrates Court at end of Aug, but he did plead guilty to the first breach. He was also arrested for a rape allegation I made but due to lack of evidence he was not arrested. His solicitor has just written to the County Court saying he wont be attending the final hearing and will not object to the order staying in place. My question: Can the District Judge find him in contempt of court for failing to attend the final hearing, especially when he was the one who objected in the first place. His reason for not attending is that his mental health has suffered because of my "allegations" and he doesnt want to be interrogated by the Court on the evidence I have now submitted!
A. Hi there

If he is not objecting to the order being in place then a hearing is not required. The court will simply extend the order to a date that is appropriate depending on what you requested. You should attend court unless the court informs you that the hearing has been vacated.

Hope that helps

Q. Hi, I have separated from my husband for over 5 years but now am divorced. My ex husband planned to go to Ameriaca and married there three years ago. Now after 5 years he has changed his mind and is divorcing his second wife to stay in England. He wants regular contact with my nearly 9 year son who is his yet my son wants to stick to the three hours as and whenthat has been happening for the last 5 years. My son is becoming unsettled and scared as, he wont voice his true feelings to his father. When I suggest for longer time my son has tantrums. My ex is being persistent with full days and overnight stays. What can I do?
A. Hi there

Try to discuss this amicably with your ex by focusing on your son. You may use mediation services to assist. Try to explain that you are not denying contact to be difficult, you are denying it because your son has specifically said that he is not ready for more contact. That said, you may wish to try and get to the bottom of why your son is uncomfortable with extended contact. Are there any reassurances that you can give to your son? Try to find out what he is afraid of. If you find out what your son is worried about, you can both do something to address the issue.

Good luck





Q. Hi can i force my to kid 1 is 15 and other is 13 there father wont them to stay with him every second weekend with his new girlfriend but my kids dont wont ot stay with him because there scared incase he get abusive towareds his new girlfriend like he did to me
A. Hi there

Try to get to the bottom of why they don't want to stay overnight and explain it to your ex tactfully. If he can give them reassurances, they may change their minds. If he can't, they won't stay overnight and he is left with the option of applying to the court for a contact order to get the overnight stays. The difficulty for him is the children are old enough to give their own view and if they don't want to stay overnight particularly at aged 15, they probably won't.

As tactfully as possible, try to explain to your ex that you are not denying him contact. The children do not want to stay over because they are scared. Invite him to give reassurances.


Best regards





Q. Hi there i was wondering if you had any advice my ex partner the mother of my ten year old will not let me take her to Florida with my wife and son can she do that i have not got parental responsibility as daughter born 2002 and we did not marry
A. Hi there

Are you on the birth certificate as father? You should invite your ex to give you parental responsibility by agreement. This is very easy to do by completing a Parental responsibility form (downloaded from the http://www.justice.gov.uk/about/hmcts website) and registering it. If your ex will not agree, ask your family law solicitor to write a letter to her. If there is no agreement, you may apply to the court for this and providing that it is in the best interests of your child, it will be granted. Moving on to your question, if she will not give consent for you to take the child on holiday, you may apply to the court for permission (specific issues order). I advise that you do this at the same time as applying for parental responsibility. Again, providing that the child is not at risk of any harm and you give the necessary reassurances of safety and return, permission should be granted.

Good luck.





Q. We have a contact order in place to see our grandaughter.our daughters partner and family are stopping our contact,we dont want our daughter to be in trouble with court when she is being 2manipulated2 by them.What can we do? Thanks.
A. Hi there

I am sorry to hear about this. If you have an order in place I presume it is because contact was refused by the family initially. If you are committed to seeing your grandchildren and the court is satisfied that they should maintain their relationship with you, you may wish to return to court. The issue about your daughter is not one that I can comment upon but I do understand your dilemma.

Good Luck

Harjit Sarang

Q. hi ni was wondering if you could help me please iam a single mum of 3 girls they are 9 months 4 years and 8 years the 8 year old has a different dad who doesnt see her at all but i split up for my youngest daughters dad after nearly 6 years as he was violent and abusive when things dont go his way he has attacked me many times and i have to get the police involved he has tried chocking me when my 4 year old was a baby so he got arrested for it i ve lost count how many times he has attacked me physcial and mentally he does disspearing acts not seeing them for days and puts drink etc before them when we where together and i ve gone to a friends bday party i ve rang to see if the kids are ok only to find out he is drinking while minding them so i have come home as i dont trust him looking after them when drunk i am now lost at what to do anymore as he wants to have the kids on weekends but he lives in a room above a pub and his friends and family members deal and take drugs which i dont want around them as his sister has aloud are 4 year old to pick up weed and laughed about it so i tried to take the kids home but he threw me out and had no clothes etc for them at all he doesnt know how to look after them if his life depends on it he sleeps most of the time leaving me to deal with the kids 99% of the time is there any way i could get help towards visiting rights in a center to see them if you could get back to me would be greatful from viki
A. Hi Viki

I'm sorry to hear that you are in this situation. You have a choice to deny this man any contact until you are reassured as to his conduct. Your first priority must be to protect the children from any risk of harm. The right to have contact with their father exists but only if doing so will not put them at risk of harm. Perhaps you can discuss your concerns with him when he is sober or use mediation services to communicate. If he knows the reasons why he should not see the children, if he is aware of the risks and concerns, it is step forward to trying to change for the benefit of the children if indeed he wants to.

Good luck

Harjit Sarang

Q. A social worker has told me unless i take an injuction out on my ex partner they will take my 7 week old baby from my care. if i refuse to get the injuction does the social worker have the power to do this
A. Hi there

The social worker will make recommendations based on assessment of risk. You can and should seek urgent legal advice if you disagree with her findings. Please find a local solicitor specialising in 'care' cases who is also a member of Resolution.

Good luck.

Best regards,

Harjit Sarang
Q. Hello I am a single mum with a 3 year old and a 5 year old. I have not yet made a will. I wondered however if the childrens father would get automatic parental responsibility for the children if I was to die before they reached 18? Also would he be allowed to take them to live abroad (which I bellieve he would do) Lastly would he have any rights to my property (the childrens family home) I would very much appreciate your advice
A. Hi

Your children's father will automatically have parental responsibility if his name is on the birth certificate. I suspect what you mean to ask me is whether the children will be placed in his care upon your death? The answer is probably, yes. In terms of him being able to take them abroad, if you are not alive, he is the only one with parental responsibility and therefore he can take them if he wishes. I advise that you see a solicitor about preparing a Will. You can appoint a guardian to look after your children if there is a reason why you do not wish for the father to have care of them. He will be able to challenge this when you die but at least your reasons will have been made clear. Whilst you are preparing a WILL, you can also plan what happens to your property.

I hope that helps. You will need to see a solicitor who deals with WILLS.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. my child as been a subject to abh and his dad has been convicted he also assaut my son 3 yrs previously and convicted yet again and there are many issues of domestic violence i dont feel as if social services protecting my children
A. Hi

I am so sorry to hear about this. You should find out who the line manager is and file a complaint.

You should also see your local family law solicitor for some advice about Injunction orders. These are orders preventing someone from harassing you, pestering you or, being violent towards you. They may also order someone not to come within a certain distance of your property. Do also ask your solicitor to assist if you need to complain about social services.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. Hi there is currently a court order in place which details that my child has a 16 night holiday with her father and that full details are to be given, a text to confirm safe arrival and 2 phone calls a week. He has now decided that he wants her for 17 days instead of the 16 nights i have suggested i drop of at 6pm on the friday and pick up at 10 am on the sunday (17th day) he is demanding til 6pm on the sunday (he then gets her from the Thursday until the Sunday at 6pm) He also has advised that i have to supply the phone for her to call from and that it is not his resonsibility to top up but he is going to cap the time that she can call - and only give a text when arrived in paris and edinburgh - they are going edinburgh to disneyworld, to paris,to holland to edinburgh can you please give your views on the calls and what would be deemed responable for times for the 16 night period
A. Hi

I am sorry to hear that this is a disagreement. You have a court order in place that seems to be very specific in nature. Details such as who should provide the phone etc have not been included I assume because it is not something that one would foresee a disagreement about.

It would be useful to know how old your child is. Does she have her own phone? Ultimately, you need to trust him to keep her safe. If you are unhappy about the times, return to your solicitor and ask for clarification.

It is difficult to advise you without having more details including how old the child is and whether you have any concerns for her safety? If you can supply a phone, supply it. If you don't, he should go to a pay box or call from the hotel. The onus is on him to make the call. He should stick to the order in terms of dates and times.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. i split up from my ex in january and things keep going from bad to worst everytime he has been violent in the past and has been arrested for it i dont trust him with my 3 daughters .in the past when minding them i ve found out hes been drinking while minding them so i ve come home as i dont trust him when hes been drinking and his family is violent too and taking and deal drugs which i dont around my daughters what help can i get please i am at my wits ends now many thanks viki
A. Hi Viki

You have a duty to protect your daughters from harm. If they are at risk then you are not being unreasonable by denying the contact until he provides reassurances that he will not drink or be violent. If he is aggressive and unapproachable, you should do this through your solicitor. The solicitor will also advise you on taking steps to protect yourself from his aggression. Ultimately, stay focused on what is best for your daughters. Agreeing contact because you are afraid to say no to him would be the wrong thing to do. Please don't be afraid. There is plenty of help and support available for you.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang





Q. hello do you work with mums who have been accused of having mental problems and being a risk to their babies by the uk ss when they are not and need defending in court to keep a family together
A. Hi

Yes. In this situation you would have an independent pyschiatric report as to whether there was an illness or not. Not difficult ;)

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. Hi can you help me, i have a 3 year all daughter that has special needs, my self and my ex husband have not been together for 3 years now and he has been having my wee girl just about every weekend or if he does not have her at the weekend he takes her 2 days in the week I have a new partner that i have been with for over 2 year and he has just started seeing someone and wants my child to met her, my wee girl has special needs and would not cope with someone new coming into her life, i have asked him to keep his gf away from my girl and i have gave him the reasons why, he finds it hard him self to cope with her sometimes, he just keeps thinking she will get better soon... I dont want my daughter to go with them when he is with his gf because her special need are really bad am i dont want her to get a set back she will not talk as it is.. He said he is going to take me to court because he want my wee girl to go out with them a do things with them as a family, my wee girl would get stressed out if he trys to do that out the blue, she needs time.. I said if he is going to marry this women then we can talk about my girl meeting her and try and work it from that... I just feel that she does not need that, i am happy to let him see my wee girl but i want hi gf to stay away from my wee girl till i think she could cope with it or if they marry.. I asked him to sign something to say that and if he lets his gf about my daughter then he will not get to see her again or if he does i will have to be in the room... if he takes me to court what will happen because of my daughters special needs, when i got with my partner my daughter was only a year old and i didnt knwo till she was 2 about her special need, she goes to a special needs nursery but i dont want her having a set back because her father wants her to go with him and his gf when all my daughter knows is time with her dad and her... If i got to court can i put that to the court and would they accept that as a good reason for keeping his gf away from my daughter till i feel she cand cope with someone else being with her when she is with her dad?? My ex husband is 39 and his new gf is 51 years old, my daughter is a hand full and not a lot of people can cope with her its that bad, my daughter is scared of a lot of people and even some family that she sees a lot because of hair colour or loud voice.. My daughter is on the autism scale but not had a diagnosis yet... sorry about spelling
A. Hi

Thank you for your question. I suggest that as you have already asked the special needs teacher for his / her opinion, convene a meeting with all three of you and plan the introduction of his girlfriend together. At least this way you are all focused on your daughter and her father can satisfy himself that the concerns are genuine rather than your fears.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. Hello I was wondering if you could give me some advice my son is 5 and will be 6 six in September. My sons father sees him on a Sunday for around 2 hours and will not make any more time for him is there anything I can do to ensure regular visits to his father as he is in willing to Co operate
Thank you
Becky
A. Hi there

I'm not sure whether you are saying he is willing to co operate or not. If he is not, I am so sorry to say that the answer is no. The court will never put pressure on someone to have contact with a child if they really don't want to for obvious reasons. That said, you could try chatting to your ex to let him know how much your son would benefit from more contact. If he is willing to co operate, simply extend the times and proceed.

Good luck.

Best Regards

Q. I was with my ex-partner for nearly 4years, we have a son who is 3 and a half. During the relationship he was extremely violent, even doing it in front of our son. My son remembers most of this and has since been making references to what his dad used to do to mummy. Since the seperation 18months ago , my ex has continually made visits to my house making threats and been abusive. He had our son in february2011 for an overnight contact session and he threatened to not bring him back again. My son is abolutely terrified of his dad from what he has witnessed, especially in our local bus station 2weeks ago. CCTV caught his threatening behaviour, and how much it upset our son, and I had to get an emergency injunction and also a Prohibited Steps Order against my ex. Could you tell me if I am able to change my sons last name without my ex's consent while these orders are in place. He is on the birth certificate, and I am aware of the parental responsibilty he has, but I need to know where I stand regarding his last name. Thankyou.
A. Hello there

I am sorry to hear about what you have been through. However, I regret that you cannot change your son's surname without his father's consent. However, if it is likely that your son will never see his father again, you may wish to apply to the court for permission to change the name. Whether or not permission is granted will depend on the relationship between your son and his father.

Good luck.

Best Regards

Q. Hi there , I can see this is a site for only mums but I am a mum who is still with my child's father but struggling to find advice . We are still together as parents but find ourselves being taken to court by paternal grandmother for access to our child , she has seen our child once since he was born but soon after a due to a situation that reminded my partner of his own abusive childhood all contact was stopped . That was over two years ago now and after having to attend a 1st hearing recently ,leave was granted and we are awaiting cafcass to visit to make there statements etc . We are extremely shocked to be in this position and unable to afford representation or qualify for legal aid . Both sides have submitted there position statements with her failing to mention that she has had no contact with her own son for 15 years apart from the one visit to her grandson when he was first born . Is it really likely that a contact order can be granted against BOTH parents wishes ?? Will cafcass allow us to respond to her position statement before they make there report ?? What could happen to us if we ignore a contact order ?? Surely parents have rights jointly to decide who sees there children ??? This is causing considerable stress to our normally very happy home and the thought of this over our heads for the next few months years or having to allow our son to see someone whom we have no relationship with is truley distressing to us . Thank you for your time
A. Hello

Thank you for your question.

Yes you will be given the opportunity to respond and you should do so. Keep in mind that contact is the right of the child and therefore your focus should remain why it is not in your child's best interests to have a relationship with paternal grandmother. The risk of harm should be made clear. Please also rest assured that the impact that contact has on the main carers i.e. you and your husband is also a key factor and therefore do include this in your statement. Please do not ignore the contact order because there are penalties for doing so and it will impact on your case should the matter return to court.

The best advice is to challenge the application with as many relevant facts as possible.

Best Regards

Q. Hi. Could you advise me on whether I can stop my ex from taking our 6 yrs old son abroad on holiday, when he has told CSS he can't afford to pay maintenance and he has told the bank that he can't afford to help clear the overdraft on an old joint bank account to help close the account.
A. Hi there

If you share Parental responsibility with your ex, he will need your permission to take your son abroad unless one of you has a Residence Order. The one with the order in their favour can take the child abroad for up to one month without consent. That said, I always advise that you notify the other parent of the holiday and provide contact details in the event of an emergency unless there is a good reason for not doing so.

Forgive me if I am wrong, but the way you have phrased your question suggests that you do not wish to consent to the holiday because you are not getting maintenance? If that is the case, I would suggest that you consider the impact that this would have on your son. We always try to keep money and contact issues separate because although financial support is an indicator of commitment, sometimes there are good reasons why money is not paid. The fact is that your son's interests come first. It is your son's right to maintain a relationship with his father. These rights should not be compromised by the fact that his father is not paying maintenance. This is not your son's fault.

I know that is difficult to digest because you need money to care for your son. However, from your son's point of view, should he be denied a holiday because of this?

I hope that helps and I apologise if I have misread your question.

Best Regards

Q. Dear Sir/Madam,,

I am writing on behalf of my friend, Lithuanian, who lives and works in the UK. but has a rather insufficient knowledge of English. she had been abused by her husband for many years (she has some evidence of domestic violence in the past, now he had been issued a restrain order/ no contact for 18 months). she wants to get divorce. the only problem is that she is unaware where he lives at the moment. the couple has 18 yrs old son and daughter 11yrs old. since November he hasn't tried to contacted children, or provided any financial support. my friend is in full time employment, is a sole earner.

my question is-: is it possible to proceed a divorce without her husband, and is it likely that the judge would grant a divorce without him? if no, what she should do in order to get his address, they haven't got any family in the UK, no common friends. also, she is still anxious, that he will start contact them again.

i would appreciate if you would be able to reply to my question, or refer to the relevant specialist.

thanks in advance


A. Thank you for your question.

There are ways in which to divorce your spouse without an address. Please contact me directly at harjit@bestsolicitorsllp.co.uk.

You will need to prove that you have done everything possible in order to locate him. That includes contact old friends and family. Previous employers etc. It can also include social media sites.

Best Regards

Q. Hi my ex partner is accusing me and my partner of being violent around my son, saying all kinds of disgusting things that he's drinking and taking drugs. He is now taking me to court for a residence order contact and parental responsibility. Where do I stand, what are my next.
> steps and how easy is it to get a residence order? Thanks
A. Hi there

Put your ex to strict proof of the allegations. You will need to satisfy the Judge and the cafcass officer that the allegations are false. If your ex is found to be lying, it will impact greatly on his credibility later on.

Good luck

Harjit Sarang
Q. For the last 7 years my ex-wife and I have cared for our daughter on a 50/50 basis. This system allowed both of us to have a meaningful relationship with our daughter. Sometimes our daughter asks me to have a word with her mother about things that are worrying her but she feels her mother doesn't always listen. 2 weeks I was asked by my daughter to speak to my ex-wife about being forced to give her partner a hug before my daughter went to bed. I am always wary about speaking to my ex-wife because she doesn't take kindly to any comments about the way she behaves. Anyway, I received the expected cataclysmic response and two weeks down the line I have had no contact with my daughter apart from one text and a really strained 2 minute chat on the 'phone. I received a letter last night detailing my inablity to provide appropriate accommodation for my daughter and my inability to provide love and support to my daughter.If my ex-wife was this worried about the way I care for my daughter I would have thought she would have raised the issue at some time in the previous 7 years. I have been offered the chance to see my daughter for 37 hours over a two week period Before the upheaval my daughter was staying with me for 7 nights out of 14. I have already booked an appointment with a solicitor as I want the best chance possible to see my daughter grow up. Do you think there is any chance of the 50/50 care arrangement being enforced by a judge? Thank you.
A. Hi there

If logistically possible and in the best interest of the child, in my view, the time should always be shared equally. Put your best case forward.

Good luck

Harjit Sarang

Q. Hi, I separated with the father of my first child who is 9yrs old, after a long and abusive relationship. He travelled back to Africa in hope that I would go and meet him to marry him as he did not have the legal documents to get married in this country. This was a no-no for obvious reasons. This made him angry but we kept contact for the sake of the child. In 2010, I sent my son to visit family in the same country in which he was, he got hold of the information that my son was at the family house, he visited a couple of times and then decided to kidnapp the child. It was reported to the police and all that but to no avail. I could not travel as I was expecting at the time and was in full time education in University. A few other incidents happened in between but he managed to transfer the child to neighbouring South Africa and then back to England to live with his family who are all here legally. I still have all parental responsibility and have not given these people consent to take care of my son. I also still have the documents and passport I applied for but they went and applied for coppies without my consent. I have tried the solicitor route but have been told that I do not qualify for legal aid, I am now in possession of the C100 Application for Residence , contact , prohibited steps, specific issue form. I however do not have legal representation as I cannot afford it. My question is this, will I be able to gain access back without having legal representation. What are the chances the family can take to refuse with my son? How long does this process take. Hope to here from you soon, Kind regards
A. Hi there

I believe we spoke on the phone. In my view, you need legal representation. Your case is unusual and requires an expert in child abduction. Some solicitors deal with cases pro bono - free of charge. Phone lawyers specialising in child abduction and ask for some advice. The Central office is your first call and they have a list of lawyers who can help. It is constantly frustrating that those who miss out on legal aid are then faced with high legal fees. There is no halfway house…….

Best regards
Harjit Sarang

Q. hi my ex has decided thats its best for our 5yr old son to come and live with me. is there anything i should do to make this legal? as im giving up full time employment to look after him as dont want her to just take him back in a few months.
A. Hi

You can apply for a Residence Order if you fear that your ex will change her mind without putting the child's interests first. The order will provide a reassurance to you and some stability. However, please note that your ex can change her mind regardless of the residence order and return to court requesting that residence be with her instead.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. Hi I'm a mother of a beautiful 4year old son. His father and I were never married and separated just after his 1st birthday when he left me for another woman. He took me to court for full custody and I willingly agreed to letting him have him 3 nights a week as u believed a child needs both parents. However, his girlfriend had a child 9 months younger who now older is bullying my son ( despite being younger and through my son's dads admittance) and they have since had two more children. Each Sunday afternoon is a battle to 'force' my child to giro his fathers when he comes to pick him up. I of course try to explain how his daddy missed and loves him Nd wants to see him bit he kicks and screams explaining he doesn't want to see him. This has been going on for three years and I feel I'm forcing him to go to a household he is not comfortable in and he is an outsider. He also says his 'stepmum' smacks him which I of course do not agree with and I'm rather concerned. I'm not sure what to do as I am soon to be a student but feel he is more comfortable with me and I want to reduce the time he spends with him as I feel it is decreasing his abort to fit in at home and school as well as hindering disciplinary procedures at home as he has two completely different lives! My poor boy doesn't doesnt know whether he is coming or going and it is affecting his learning capabilities considerably! His teachers are extreme concerned also that the court agreement is a bog issue for his education and soci abilities. Any advice?
A. Hi

I sympathise with you. Do try talking about the concerns to his father in a way that is not accusatory. Say how your son is often afraid/reluctant to attend contact and see if your ex offers any reassurances or useful ways to deal with the situation. If you cannot have that conversation and mediation doesn't work, ask you solicitor to write a non confrontational letter dealing tactfully with the issues. If you feel it appropriate, reduce the contact until the issue is resolved.

Good luck. Your son needs you to protect him from harmful situations and therefore, you are doing the right thing by listening to him and trying to make changes for his benefit. Try to explain to your ex that if he makes a few changes, his relationship will only improve and your son will start enjoying contact again.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. I hope you can help. I am writing on behalf of my partner who has a gorgeous son with his to-be-ex wife. He currently pays double the amount that the CSA recommends on their website for maintenance. We actually can't afford to fund our own place to live for this reason (we currently live with family). He will do anything for his son, and it breaks his heart to only see him every other weekend (but he's not allowed to see him more). We would both happily see him more than that. In the mean time the mother wants more money, because his parental contact is less, and says her solicitor told her she should be getting a third of his gross income towards their son. He goes to private school (which they get a discount for) and have a house together which she and his son live in. She also wants to have more than 50% for the profit of the house. My partner would give his son any amount of money he needed, but meanwhile it feels a little like his ex is just trying to get all the money she can. The ex will never divulge how much she now earns or how much she actually pays for school fees, and makes other decisions she thinks he should pay towards (without consultation)... We do know she earns nearly double what my partner does. What should my partner do? Is it worth him getting his own legal advice (he has none at present) or is it just a case of contacting the CSA? Your help would be appreciated. Thanks.
A. Hi there

Yes indeed your partner should get some legal advice. It is understandable that he wants to pay as much as he can for his son but at the same time he needs to know what his legal obligations are bearing in mind what they have together and individually. The best advice is for him to have a period of disclosure with his ex where they each disclose their respective financial position and then discuss financial needs and ways to meet those needs. He can still pay her over and above what is expected if he wishes but at least he will be making a considered decision.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. At present estranged husband has accepted divorce on the grounds of his unreasonable behaviour, i am only awaiting the divorce being finalised. I have been with my new partner for 1 year, and we live together. My ex does not and has not paid any child maintenance for his two children who reside with me. He refused to have them every second weekend in court however the judge told him he was to continue a relationship and have them every second saturday overnight. He has continually let his son down My new partner and I plan to marry and both would like to take the children to live in Australia, my ex has told me I am not doing this and he will stop me in every way, even after everything he has put me through and the fact he continually lets the children down. My partner has a good job and I have just qualified in teaching, we both can provide a good life for the children and I have family living there who are willing to sponsor us. Can he stop this? Thankyou Claire (Scotland)
A. Hi there

I am afraid that I cannot advise on the law in Scotland. Please see your local solicitor.

Harjit Sarang
Q. Hi, my son has his final Hearing at the Family Courts on Tuesday. he is seeking 50/50 residence of his children. The CAFCASS wishes and feelings report does not support his application. The youngest (8) has
said he wants things to be the same(although he has many times told his dad he would like extra time) and the eldest boy (12) has said he wants Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sunday until 12 every week. CAFCASS has pointed out that it would interfere with his mother's weekend, which it will. My son has said he will abide by the wishes and feelings of the children the exception being if mum has tried to sway the children. He has submitted an alternative plan to take on board the children's feelings. A very odd ting has now occured, his solicitor has telephoned him and said that she will not be accompanying him on Tuesday as if she did, my son would not get a chance to speak for himself. My son is OK about going it alone but has the feeling that his solicitor has 'bailed out' on him. My own feeling
is that if he has engaged her services why is she not going to turn up for the final hearing. I would value your comments.
A. If the solicitor has been retained, he/she should attend to represent him. Is this a question of funding? I would advise going back to the lawyer and asking to be represented.

Q. Hello, I have fortnightly access to my 7 year old son where I pick him up on a Friday and take him back on a Sunday. For the last four years my ex-wife has insisted that I collect/return my son from a public car park close by to where she lives - reluctantly I have adhered to this even though I think this is not normal and may have a future negative effect on my son. She won't allow me to collect/return him from her house and has given me no reason as to why. I have to drive approx. 15 miles to collect/return him and so I have to always allow for traffic to collect/return him on time. Because she insists on a public place car park handover I have now informed her that I will pick him up from her preferred public place but when I return him I have decided that she will now have to collect him from my preferred public place - this is still close by to where she lives but she will have to walk a little further(half a mile or so) which will probably annoy her - not my intention but I'm just going by her rules. I just want to know where I stand legally please - Do I have to return him to a specific public car park which she insists on or am I within my right to insist that she collects him from a public place more suitably to me yet still close to her home? I have requested time and again that we get mediation but she refuses and I'm now considering applying for a court order as she won't agree to further access (i.e. one night during the week). Many many thanks, D
A. Hi there

It is a shame that you do not agree on collection/return place. Unless there is a court order stating where collection and return should be, you need to try and agree it. The only advice I can offer is that the place should be wherever is most convenient for the child.

As to more contact, if it is in the best interest of your child to have more contact considering their routine and logistics, continue with your request and at the same time ask for an order regarding collection and return. You may also try mediation as means to discuss and agree this to save the time and cost of a court application.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. Here goes nothing sorry for the essay, but it all needs to be in. Split with my ex partner in January, I was main caregiver to our child, ex took her to her mothers house and since then contact was quite reasonable...Until I made the mistake of telling her I didn't want to restart the relationship as she had suggested relationship counselling. Since then she has constantly denied me seeing our daughter, made up DV
allegations with no proof, took out a non-molestation order and prohibited steps order to cease any kind of contact between me and my daughter.A Contact order was put in place which was broken within the first 3 weeks.
Since then I have been accused and arrested 4 times over alleged harassment which has been unproven except one msg I sent which stated that I wouldnt let her control or dictate me seeing our daughter which the
police and CPS believe is classed as harassment, a joke I know but have been charged for it. . Bail conditions stipulate not to contact my ex's place of work but she had not notified them that she works at a nursery
and that my daughter attends there so again stopping me from even finding out simple information such as how she is progressing and what new things she is learning. Court date is end of next month which I think is way to
long seeing as I've had such regular contact until beginning of may. How does the children's act relate in terms of human rights and my parental responsibility to know what is happening with my child at nursery as a
friend that is a trainee solicitor mentioned this to me but my solicitors dont seem to have a clue. Any ideas???Please??
A. Hi there

I am sorry to hear about this. At some point your ex will be asked to provide some evidence of the allegations and at that point hopefully, truth will out. In the meantime, I see no reason why you should not have access to information about your child's development. If you have parental responsibility, you should write to the nursery and ask for their policy on communicating with divorced/separated/unmarried parents. The same will apply to school. One thing you will not be able to do is to collect your child without permission. Unless it is an organised event to which you have been invited, you should not attend without order or agreement.

I hope that helps.

Harjit Sarang

Q. Hi, i am a father of a 2yr old and a 3yr old, they came to live with me 2 yrs ago as they were removed from their mothers care by the police as she wasn't looking after them properly, the mother took me to court to get the children back, after 2yrs of fighting through court and the mother only seeing the children when it suited her we decided on a shared residence, my problem is that my son is constantly coming back from his mothers with bruises, about a year ago he came back with finger tip bruises on his arm, social service were involved and the mother said my son already had the bruises when he went to stay with her, as the social services had no proof of where my son got the bruises and the hospital
couldn't say exactly how old the bruises were it was just dismissed, then a short while after he came back with more bruising on his stomach which his mother said he got while trying to climb over a safety gate, i took him to the hospital again and the doctor said they were not caused by a safety gate and were more likely due to rough handling while he was at his mothers, again social services did nothing, now my son has returned to me with huge bruises on his back my daughter also has bruises on her back and when i have asked their mother about them she said they were already there when the children went to her house, i really don't know what to do, i want to protect my children but have no faith in social services as they have done nothing in the past to protect him, my children are constantly crying that they don't want to go to their mums and tell me they want to stay with daddy, they have started making themselves sick by putting their fingers down their throat, wetting the bed, biting and lashing out, i really cant bare the thought of going back through the courts as i just feel it let me down the last time, their mother was constantly inconsistent with contact with the children, she refused to cooperate with
social services and family support and yet i was told repeatedly that as she was the mother she had to be given many chances and no matter what she did it didn't matter, i cooperated throughout the whole process went to all the meetings took many parenting classes, suffered violent attacks by my ex partner, and yet my children are still suffering. What should i do?
A. Hi there

I am so sorry that you are in this situation. I have no hesitation is advising that as you are aware, protecting the children is your priority. If you believe that they are at risk of harm and that harm continues, it would not be unreasonable for you to retain the children and return to court immediately for an order that they remain in your care until this is investigated further. Perhaps expert evidence will be required. However, the priority must be protecting the children. Please seek urgent legal advice and return to court.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. Hi, can you give me a good family law solicitor in gateshead tyne and wear,as i feel my has,nt done much and i need a second opinion thanks.

A. Please contact www.davidgray.co.uk,T: (0191) 427 5007 and ask to speak to someone in the Family Law Department.
Q. i am concerned my ex partner will try and take my son to live in turkey shes has a child to a guy ther and is married or planning on marriage. my son is four year old now and i have had regular contact and
paid csa obviously i want this to continue so can she take him ther to live
A. Hi there

If your name is on the birth certificate, you have parental responsibility for your son. Unless your ex has a 'residence order' (order saying that your son should live with her) she cannot remove him from the country without your permission. To do so would be child abduction. If she has a residence order, she can remove him for up to a month. You need to communicate your fears to her and seek reassurances before you give consent to her taking your son abroad even for a holiday. If you fear that she may take him without consent see your solicitor about 'port alerts' and 'passport stops'. If you believe that she has taken him, go straight to the police who will try to stop her leaving any major port.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. hi, my ex sees his son every fortnight for 1 1/2 hours. drop off and collection is at a contact centre. He wants more time with his son now. I have been told I have to make arrangements for dropoff and collection because a contact centre can only offer 2 2/3 hours. I cannot bear to see him or be in the same vicinity as him, do I have to do the drop off and collection because I have no one else who can do it for me?
A. Hi there

You will need to facilitate contact which can mean dropping off and collecting your son. If you have any concerns, I suggest that this be done in a public place. If your ex is trying to maintain a relationship with your son or even trying to repair a relationship, it is important that he does not see you as being anxious about the contact. Children should not have to witness hostility between parents. If you have any specific concerns, there may be other options. Do what you feel is best for your son.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang





Q. i was in an open relationship the partner i was with had twins , 1 died at birth and the other is in great ormond street hospital , she has heart problems my ex wont let me see her and said i carnt have my surname
ether , i live in birmingham the baby is 6 weeks old on thursday and the mother has not visited at all i want to but she as rang the hospital saying not 2 give me any information. woud be gratefull if u kud tell me were i stand
A. Hi there

I am so very sorry to hear about your loss. Your daughter has a right to a relationship with you. I advise that you see a solicitor immediately about declaring your parentage, having your name on the birth certificate and establishing contact. It may be that this is all agreed following a letter. I suggest that you get advice immediately. I do hope that your daughter gets better.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. Hello I am hoping you can help as nobody seems to know the answer to my questions! I am british, and currently living in the UK with my partner, who is portuguese, and our 2 1/2 year old little boy. Our son has dual nationality, with an expired Portuguese passport and a current UK Passport (he also has a valid portuguese ID card). We have had our ups and downs with the relatioship - but as we both are aiming for the same outcome ( a working, united family front for our son)we are continuing to work at it. However, we are looking at returning to Portugal at the end of the year for a holiday, and for my own personal reasons before I book anything i need to confirm the following... Can my partner refuse to let me leave Portugal on our return with our son? As he has dual nationality I am concerned that if he did decide that he didnt want to return to the UK with me (cannot see a reason he would, but it plays on my mind), and wanted his son to stay with him, I am worried that he may be able to refuse me and our boy leaving? I think I am going to go and see someone about this, but I have found this site by accident and figured there is no harm in asking! I honestly do not think that this issue is even going to arise, but as my son is my world, I HAVE to be sure! Thank you in advance!
A. Hi there

Thank you for your question. I suspect that if he is detained and we make a request for him to be returned to England, the difficulty will be due to his dual nationality. You should get specific legal advice about this before you agree to go away. I suggest that you contact the Central Authority dealing with Child Abduction. There is also information here http://www.justice.gov.uk/protecting-the-vulnerable/official-solicitor/international-child-abduction-and-contact-unit. Ask your solicitor to advise you about basic precautions such as trying to stop duplicate passports being issued etc. I hope that helps.

Good luck

Harjit Sarang
Q. My solicitor is in process of applying to court to change my 3 childrens surname to same as mine as their father has been absent from their lives for 3 years now, through choice of his own and he doesnt pay any maintenance at all, never has. He was violent and abusive to me and my eldest son through out the relationship. If im not granted the order how can I go about emigrating to USA to give my children and myself a better future. My ex partner has no intention of being a part of my childrens lives but will do anything to spite me and the children so wont give his written permission to leave the country.
A. Hi

I am sorry to hear about this situation. You are trying to do your best to move on from a horrid experience. In certain situations the court will give permission for a change of surname and a permanent relocation. In cases where there has been violence and abuse and since then, no contact from father, your chances of succeeding are greater. I regret that the only way for you to do this is by his agreement or court order. If you cannot afford legal fees, try to represent yourself. There is information on this site for 'litigants in person'. Providing that you know the facts and can present them in writing or verbally, you will be ok. Good luck.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. Hi I have split with my ex for around 2 months now she has stopped all contact with my children. I pay half the nursery fees and I am on both birth cirtificates so have parental responsibility. Solicitors are involved but things are moving very slowly. I need to know 2 things can I go to the nursery and visit my daughter would this go against me in the future and if I was to take my daughter from nursery back to my home where would I stand, could I be arrested and would I have to give her straight back. Many thanks from a desperate father
A. Hi there

I do understand your frustration but taking your daughter without consent is not advised. Firstly, the nursery staff should not allow it and secondly, you may scare your daughter and your ex because it's so unexpected. Best to press your solicitor to move things as quickly as possible. Sometimes, there are delays at court that cannot be helped.

Good luck

Harjit Sarang

Q. I ama single Mum (perhaps wrong site!) but have a reasonable realtionship with ex as far as daughter is concerned. He does pay maintenance and has regular access. What I wondered was whether on the ocassions he takes her out of Nursery - on holiday for example - whether he should pay the Nursery fees for this time? I pay all Nursery costs at present which I have no objection to, but wondered whether he should pay on occassions where she is not at Nursery because of him? It's only a few times a year but just wanted to check. I thought perhaps 50/50 for these particular days? Thanks.
A. Hi there

How wonderful to hear that you are working together for the benefit of your daughter. As regards nursery fees, I regret that unless he agrees, there is no obligation to pay this to you.

Sorry!

Harjit Sarang

Q. hi i recently separated from my partner and now she is stopping me from seeing my 18 month old son. i now live at home with my mother who has learning disability's and my ex has said firstly she read some fact on
the internet about dads taking there children and thinks "i will abduct him" even tho for the past 3 months i have had him 4 days a week including 1 overnight stay and was never late picking him up or dropping him off. but she believes she is in her right to stop my access on these grounds. also now i have had to start legal proceedings to be granted access she is
using my mother disability as a reason i shouldn't see him. saying she is a concern for his safety. surly i am responsible for him while in my care not my mother and also she brought me up by herself while my dad worked full time so how could this be an issue?
A. Hi there

You are absolutely correct in that whilst he is in your care, you are responsible for him. The fact that you have in your company someone who is disabled is irrelevant unless caring for that person will take you away from caring adequately for your son. Even then, she will need to prove this. You have not said that you are caring for your mother in any way. You have said that you are staying with her.

Good luck

Harjit Sarang

Q. Hi I have been having issues with the CSA for the last couple of years now I've paid my arrears and they took more. On finding out this mistake they took 6 months to sort a plan out only for them to take another payment of arrears money. Now I'm still waiting for a cheque to
come through but every time I phone them they say it's with quality control an hasn't been looked at yet. They ate quite happy to take the money but not happy enough to give it back within a reasonable timescale.
Who do I speak to regarding taking legal advice to get this money back and the extra money I've had to spend on 0845 calls from numerous landlines including my work phone?

A. Hi there

You won't be surprised to hear that this is not unusual. I'm afraid that the cheapest way if for you to persist yourself. The alternative is hiring a lawyer to do it for you but this will only cost you more.

Best regards,

Harjit Sarang

Q. Hi there, I will try to sum this up as short as possible, only giving basics where possible. I do have a solicitor but feel she may not be acting in my best interest. 7 Years ago me and my partner split up and
went our separate ways, at the time my daughter was 2 years old. From the outset I took my Ex to court to make sure that contact with my daughter would not be hindered, at court She was issued with a residency order and I was issued with a contact order. I had my daughter from noon Friday to 6 pm Sunday every weekend. Until she went to school all was fine she moved in with her new partner 5 years ago and then had another child with him. They married 2 years ago and up until that point of her moving in with her husband all was fine. After numerous court appearances as she stopped contact it slowly whittled down to just every other Saturday 10 am - 4 pm. Mediation was tried she never turned up, Cafcass got involved against the advice of the attending Cafcass officer at court. Her mum pushed so hard for a thoughts and feelings report the judge had no choice. Now for the bit I need advice on. In march 2012 my daughters mum passed away suddenly at the age of 29, She passed away early hours of a Wednesday morning. Her sister came to my house on the Thursday morning to inform me of what had happened, I obviously asked about my daughter and agreed that I would
leave her where she is while she mourns for her mum. I contacted my daughters auntie Friday day time and got no reply, I tried phoning, and going to her house and no answer. I then went to my daughters residence
and no answer there, at that point i started to worry and contacted the local authorities to try and find her, as I was worried about my daughter. Eventually social services had got in contact with the aunt and she told them they had been in court that morning and applied for an emergency residency order on the grounds that I was not taking my daughters feelings into account, She didn't want to live with me and my partner (And our 2 children her half step sisters), My partner abused her (Her mum brought it up and court and the judge brushed it off as he could see it was just a
lie) and that it was her mums "Dieing wish" that her husband would take care of them. Since then we have been to court where the judge gave the step father a telling off as he had stopped contact and yet the following weekend after court my daughter has been staying with her aunt, I got numerous messages saying she didn't want to come,she was scared of my
partner (when my daughter is with us she spends more time with my partner than with me as she follows her around like a lost sheep), that she was worried I would not return her, I eventually convinced her aunt to let me have her. In court the step dad agreed in front of a judge to attend mediation, I went he never even bothered told the mediator that he thought it was pointless. My daughter was allocated a Cafcass worker some 6 weeks ago but left it until the day of the visit where her step dad phoned up and demanded a female officer do the report. I have been in contact with
Cafcass and asked for a meeting before the reports were made as I have a long list of concerns ranging from my daughter being left to go to bed when she wants on a school night (sending me messages at 11-12 o'clock at
night), the negative influence they are putting on her(Telling her that they will do this and do that with her, she wont get to see any of them ever again if she lives with me etc) her step dad has started drinking
heavily and palms the kids off Willy-nilly to go out drinking, and yet this did not concern the Cafcass officer one bit, every time it tried to raise the issues i was interrupted by the Cafcass officer and not allowed to finish. I Feel that the report will not show my daughters true feelings and that her step dad and auntie are "bribing her, convincing her" she is
better off with them. I have raised these issues with my solicitor but feel that she's not listening to what I have to say and is just letting it pan out until we get to court. What can I do in regards to the Cafcass report and getting residency of my daughter? Many Many thanks in advance
A. Hi

I am so sorry for your loss. It must be such a difficult time for both you and your daughter. Dealing with a contact disputes is difficult enough for parents but it is even more so when dealing with grieving relatives. I regret that there is not much that your lawyer can do at this stage. You suspect that the report will not be adequate because your daughter is being heavily influenced however, the experts can see through this and further, you will have the opportunity to comment fully on the report when it has been received. If you feel that her wishes and feelings are not reliable, it is for you to show why you think that depending on what your daughter says. It is sadly often the case that one parent tries to influence what a child says to experts. The experts are used to dealing with this appropriately in order to get the true opinion.

Good luck.





Q. My baby is 2 and half weeks old and her father wants overnite access, I've offered daytime twice a week , am not ready to let baby sleep out yet as I'm a new mam bonding with my baby , he going to solicitor for 4 to 5 day access , what's his rights as a father
A. Hi

Congratulations! Contact is the right of the child. She has the right to bond with her father as much as she has the right to bond with you. Perhaps you could mediate and work together to share this experience and joy. There must be a way for you to share quality time with her. You can't blame him for being keen and excited, wouldn't you be if you were him? The child's needs come first. You should both work together to talk about routines so that she has consistency of care when she is with him. If this is your first child, you will be learning something every day, you may want to share that with each other to make parenting easier and ultimately better for your daughter. You have to work together for at least 18 years so best to get off on the right foot. Providing there are no risks of harm or allegations of bad conduct and behaviour, this should be achievable.





Q. hi please can you give us some advice, my daughter as a 3year old son,she is un married, she and her parther split up, and he took her to court to see his son that was fine, it started with saturdays 12-3pm for six weeks then it went to sat and sun sat 12-5pm and sun 12-3pm for six weeks, we had a couple of times where he hasnt wanted to go but in the end manged to get him to, now the court made it that every other week end he as to stay overnight from 10am sat till 5pm sun, he as never been away from mum before , and when mum and dad was together dad stady out most nights in the week, we found out why but that a different matter, its my grandson thats bothers me, today he was suppose to go to dads and stay over but when we was told it wastime to go and she daddy he really played up and stared crying and did not want to go, but we got him in the car and took him, when we got there he would not get out the car no matter what we tried, his dad tried to get him out and he started to really get upset, keep saying he did not want to go we was there an hour and ended up fetching him home and all afternoon he as stuck close to mum saying mummmy you not going to leave me are you?? and dont want to stay at daddys what do we do ???
A. Hi there

He is clearly upset about this and should not be forced. You could try to encourage him and try talking about why he does not wish to go. It could be something quite simple that he can be reassured about. Alternatively, return to court and inform the court of the facts. Someone will need to look into why he is so afraid.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang





Q. My son has left his partner of nearly 11 years, they have 2 children. She is blaming us for him leaving her. He only stayed there because of the children and has decided he can't stay any longer. She only allows him supervised access and won't let him out of her sight. She will not let us have any access to the children and has poisoned them against us by telling them not to speak to us.
A. Hi there

You may apply to the court for contact with your grandchildren if she continues to refuse contact. You should see your solicitor and make some proposals before hand. If the children are not at risk of harm, they should maintain their relationship with maternal and paternal grandparents. If there are any allegations, they will need to be heard by the court. Do make the proposal and know that you may apply to the court if need be.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. Good Morning Harjit , I left my 16 year marriage 11 months ago I have 4 children with my ex. She has totaly refused me any contact with my kids , I have launched a divorce case , but she is doing everything to prevent me from seeing my children in any way ,shape or form. What is making it even worse is that she is brainwashing the against me telling them that if they try and communicate with me in any way she will send them back to west africa (where she is from) what do you recommend I can do to fight back !
A. Hi there

My advice is that you owe it to your children to pursue this. They have the right to maintain their relationship with you. If there is a risk that she will 'send' them abroad, orders can be made preventing this. See you local family law solicitor as soon as possible.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang





Q. I was in a relationship with a man whom I supported while he was in prison. he got out of prison married his first love and has gone through extreme measures to assure he cannot be found and made to pay child support. He is planning on moving himself and his wife to argentina after her baby is born in august. he is telling people that he will not have to pay child support after he moves so all he has to do is stay hidden until the baby is old enough to travel. My question to you is will he have to pay if he moves. He is also a veteran and receives disability he says child support cannot be calculated using disability funds. is this true as well?
A. Hi there

You should apply to the child support agency without delay so that they can take steps whilst he is here in the event that he does not move. You should also see a solicitor before he moves because in some circumstances, such as when the CSA no longer has jurisdiction, the court will deal with child maintenance.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. Hi my ex has just applied for a prohibited steps order to prevent my from talking about my ongoing case in the family courts on facebook. whilst i accept this order is going to be placed. my question is do i have to attend court as its instructing me to do so in just 4 days time or can i just not turn up on the day if i choose to not go to the hearing am i liable to arrest? for non attendance, like i said i accept the order and will keep to it by stopping talking about our case. also can this steps order overwrite the contact sessions already in place or will i loose these contact visits? any advice would be greatly appreciated thanks
A. Hi

You must attend court if ordered to do so. If you do not, an order may be made in your absence. If you consent to the application, you may wish to contact your ex's solicitors to agree by consent out of court.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. I have had a letter from my ex wifes solicitor stating that they will be advicing here to seek a non molestation order if things betwen us do not improve when i collect my children i am happy with this as i do not want to argue with her, my problem is that the letter states that i should not be contacting social services about the welfare of my children as they have already been to see my ex wife and found nothing wrong, i do have real concerns for my childrens safety as my ex wife is drunk on a regular basis and regularly takes my children to the pub with her my children are 18mth and 3 years old. Also one night recently i took my son off her as he was ill and she was drinking, and i am not sure where i stand legally doing this, as neither of us have been granted custody of the children. i can not afford legal reprecentation at present so any advice would be greatfully recieved. Also to letter says i have to acknowledge i have recieved the letter is this true ?
A. Hi there

The children come first. If ever you feel that they are at risk of harm , you should contact the authorities. If that is the police, they will contact social services in any event.

You may apply to the court for contact and or residence (order that the children live with you). If there are no orders at the moment and you have parental responsibility, you may keep the children with you if you feel that returning them puts them at risk of harm. If you choose to do this, you will need to apply to the court for a residence order and explain your reasons. That will prevent her from attending and removing the children again. the courts will then investigate the matter and make whatever order is best for the children.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. Hi, I am in the process of considering leaving my wife. However we have 12 month old daughter and I personally want full custody of her, with my wife having visitation rights. The issue is, that if we leave, I will be moving away, closer to my family and friends and therefore having a support network to assist with the upbringing or my daughter, including all my brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and my parents. This is a support network that she will not have and won't be able to get any assistance in taking care of our daughter. The reason I am considering leaving is because of her continued drug use, mainly Marijuana. It is something I detest and always have, I have barred her from having any of it in our home, so she then ends up going out whilst I am at work and taking my daughter to a house where she can smoke pot and the tenant of
the house also uses needles to inject speed. We fight about this constantly and I resent her for the places she takes my daughter and her continued association not only with drugs but of people who can only be described as junkies. No matter the amount of trying, our relationship just isn't working out, this is a problem that can only be solved either by her quitting drugs, or me accepting her habit. I have put the ultimatum
to her, which is never a good way to solve a problem, but have laid out the outcome if she continues to smoke drugs and associate with the person she smokes all her drugs with. My biggest fear in leaving however is that
the courts would not award custody to me. I work full time and as such my wife is the primary caregiver to our daughter Monday - Friday, I take over when I finish work and on weekends. If I leave and do not get custody my wife will bring drugs back into the home with my daughter in it and this is not a situation I want her to be in. Is there any advice you can give
me? scaredandconfused
A. Hi

You will not be refused residence (custody) just because your wife is the primary caregiver at the moment, if the care that she is giving puts your child at risk of harm. Don't be scared, work out a plan and answer all of your what if's. Many people work ft and have main care of the children. Look into nurseries, nannyshare, childminders etc. You will find lots of support and assistance including financial. The main point to make is that your child's safety is paramount. If she needs to live with you to be safe and free from harm then you should plan around that. At the right time, you may explain to your wife that you are not excluding her from your daughter's life. That when she gives up her habit, you will fully support and encourage her relationship with your daughter. What is not advisable is to suddenly disappear and alienate your wife. Try to remain calm and explain why you are making your decision. Once you have everything worked out, explain it to her so that she is reassured that your daughter will be safe and content. Provide your address and contact number so that there can be indirect contact frequently. It will be a big change for your daughter so you need to make sure that you plan it carefully. If you are unsure and need more support, instruct your local solicitor for specific advice.

Good luck.

Q. i have a 3year old son that i have never seen through my own faults,i just want to try and make amends,can u help me please?
A. Hi

It's never too late for a second chance providing the child is not at risk of harm from you. Your ex may be anxious about this so you must be very considerate of feelings. Make an initial approach to discuss the possibility. Take feelings into consideration and most importantly the needs of your son. If there is no commuincation, try mediation. If that fails, go to your local family law solicitor. I think you need to accept that it may be very slow to start with but if you demonstrate commitment, trust may be established for contact to increase.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. Im really worried wondered if you could help? Im staying with my partner for only one reason im scared he will take our daughter, he is a muslim and his family have never accepted me, when i was pregnant we moved from sheffield to cornwall(5hours away) so my baby was born here, he has already said he will take our daughter back to sheffield if i leave him n he wont give her back, he will go to his mums house which is only 3bedrooms and there is 7 children there in that house its over crowded. theyre all foul mouthed and horrible to me and im also worried about them taking my daughter to pakistan and never returning her, he says stuff to me such as i could have u GONE so easily u know that... I know his family is so dodgy and all been in trouble with the law drugs, gbh, etc , oh and the police nocked on my door 2weeks ago asking if he was in, then arrested him for sexual assault! Apparantly our neighbour made a complaint, he is on bail til next week and then he has to go back and see if he is charged or released, this is awful only staying with him in fear he will take our child to sheffield or even abroad and never return her, oh and hes never changed het nappu, fed her, got up in the night ive done all of this..
A. Hi there

If the only reason you are staying with this character is because you fear abduction, there are steps that you may take.

1 -Keep your daughter's passport with you at all times. If possible, send it to someone you trust so that it is not in the house.

2- Write to the passport office and ask that they do not issue another one without your consent (you may ask your solicitor to do this).

3- Contact your local family law solicitor for advice about a Residence Order (order for her to stay with you) and a prohibited steps order (Order preventing him removing her from you care)

Think about and plan your move with advice from your solicitor. Tell your family and friends what you are doing so that you have support. If you wish, contact the local domestic violence unit at the police station for further advice and support on how to leave safely.

You must give yourself credit for realising that this situation is no good for you. Go a step further by getting good advice to ensure a secure way out. When you get to a safe place, see your family law solicitor about financial assistance and support.

Good luck.

Q. Hi Harjit, my ex had regular contact with hi son up until a year ago, i then stopped all contact as my son came home from his weekend visit covered in bruises to which, when asked how he got the bruises told me that his dad had physically assaulted him (I wont go into deatails). No charges were brought against his father as the CPU and social work could not prove it was him that had caused my son harm. Now 1 year down the line I am being charged with contempt of court and he is fighting to see my son again. I have been advised that he will still have all his rights as it was not proven that he hit my son but this is making my son very anxious and upset because in his eyes his dad is calling him a liar. No-one will listen to what my son wants because he is only 8 and not old enough to have his own opinions. What can i do?
A. Hi

The professionals involved will and should listen to your son. How he is asked about the incident is a different matter. You say that your son is already feeling anxious because his father is calling him a liar. I suspect that he is also terrified that what he has said and will say has very serious consequences. Is it best to leave communications with your son on this issue to the professionals. The alternative puts a huge burden on him because whatever he says has consequences for one of his parents. This is far too much for an 8 year old to bear.

Give the professionals as much information as you can and let them deal with your son in the way that they are trained to do.

Best regards

Harjit Sarang

Q. my daughter's partner walked out 5 weeks after their baby was born she tried to do the right thing by allowing him an overnight once a week. He did not stick with the agreement so she stopped all access, she is now going through court and he has been granted 6 hours a week but it will be re-assesed shortly. My question is how much access is he legally allowed? The baby is 18 months old and the partner does not support the baby.
A. Hi there

I am sorry to hear about that, it must be so difficult for your daughter. Contact is the right of the child. The amount of contact he will get depends on what the child needs to maintain her relationship with him. That may be 6 hours a week or it may increase. Financial support is irrelevant when considering contact. It is not the child's fault that father is not paying maintenance.

Try to keep the child at the forefront of your minds when making any decision. Unless he poses a risk of harm, he will be in your granddaughter's life for some time yet. The sooner you all learn to work together and amicably deal with issues, the better. As the child gets older, she will pick up on hostility and that will only cause her distress. It is in her best interests for both families to be polite to one another and be seen to support each other's role in the child's life.

I hope that helps.

Best regards

Q. My 2 year old sons dad has started having my son over night one night a week . However mt ex partners used to smoke cannabis and I believe due to the mood swings he may be back on it and I want to stop access at
his house can I insist on a drugs rest -
A. Hi

The first step would be to try and discuss it with him relaying the risk of looking after a child whilst under the influence of any drug or alcohol. If you get nowhere, it would not be unreasonable to stop the contact until he provided absolute reassurances that he was not smoking. If you do not believe him and have good reason to believe that he is lying to you, you may apply to the court for an order based on him only having contact if he satisfies the court that he no longer smokes. That process may include testing. Good luck.

Q. husband and I are separated, I have no court orders in place regarding contact with our 9 month old daughter. The agreement we had in place is not working as he is verbally aggeressive towards me. I therefore stated that he would have to take me to court so that a court order can be produced that protects me as a mother and our daughter who witnesses this. I therefore have stopped contact whilst he does this. Am I breaking the law?
A. No you are not breaking the law. You are seeking the security of a defined contact order because an informal arrangement is not working and possibly putting you and the child at risk of harm.

Q. Hi Myself and my ex partner have a 7 month old daughter myself and my daughter were living in his home. He decided to end the relationship so my daughter and I had to move out as this was his home. We are now living at my parents house. I am still on maternity and due to go back to work in the next few months. I'm struggling with money but her has agreed to pay child support. We also agreed to him having access to our daughter. He has twins of 7 from a previous marriage and has them 2 overnights a week he asked for the same which I was unsure as my daughter
is so young and would prefer her to see him in the daytime twice a week till she is older. I also asked him to consider some alone time with our daughter so he can build a relationship with her as he wanted her the same days as he has his other children. We are not getting along as I have asked him for more financial help to buy a flat for me and my daughter he
said no as I have no rights to his house as we were not married. I also bought an expensive car when we were together which I can no longer afford
as he was helping when we were together I'm happy to sell the car but will loose alot of money and asked him if he would help with this also he has refuse although he wanted the car he just couldn't put it in his name due to bad credit. He had our daughter overnight and we had a row and then threatened to take her away the weekend. He did return her but what I have said he can not have overnight contact as I said before I didn't want this at her young age but wanted to try and work together so I told him no more
overnights untill I've seek legal advise. I offered him Saturday and Sunday daytime and he refused to take her. My job entails me going away a few days aweek and my mum will look after our child I will be returning to work part time. He now says he want 50% access to our child so he does not need to pay child support although he has no family support and if this was grated to him she would be placed into a nursery whilst he went to work as my mum won't look after her during his access time if granted. What are tge chances of him being granted this? Please help.
A. Hi there

You have several issues regarding contact and maintenance to be answered. I suggest that you contact your local solicitor as soon as possible. In terms of maintenance, it is true that if he has the child longer, he pays less child support but that should not be the reason for him having more contact. The contact should be what is appropriate for your daughter. It is not unusual for contact to include other siblings providing that your child is never put at risk of harm. Not being married does not exclude you from financial claims. Ask your solicitor about financial relief under the Children Act. It is rare to use this procedure unless your ex has sufficient funds but you may wish to know about the option in any event. You will need to speak to the finance company about the options available to you if you can no longer afford the car.

Good luck

Q. Hi ive just found out that my ex- partner gave his fathers surname on our childrens birth certificates instead of his own, where do I stand on getting my childrens name changed to my own? Thank you
A. Hi there

If your husband put the incorrect name on the birth certificate in error, you can enquire about getting that changed depending on how long ago it was. Getting it removed altogether and changed to your surname is a greater task. Your ex may apply to the court for an order that you register and use his surname as father of the child. This application is likely to succeed if he is in the children's lives and maintains a relationship with them.





Q. Hello, Thank you for this service - obviously the situation is a bit more complex than I can enter into here, yet in a nut shell. My ex-husband left us (me and our daughter) 5 years ago. In this time, despite repeated efforts on both our parts for reconciliation, he cannot control his temper and I seemingly cannot help but irritate him. As a result we are agreed that a divorce is necessary. He lives alone in a five bedroomed house 350 miles away and will not consider selling and moving to be closer to her, what he insists upon is that the former marital home is sold, this is so he can enjoy his retirement. Formerly his contact involved him staying in this house (very stressful for me, yet I believed this to be the least disruptive for our daughter) since he has issued divorce proceedings and his behaviour has become increasingly abusive towards me ( a bucket of water poured into my bed) it is no longer appropriate for him to stay here. He has not seen his daughter now for six weeks, I have no objection to him seeing her, yet feel that he ought not to stay here. The question I am asking is, can he force the sale of this house? Thank you for your time, Best wishes,
A. Hi there

In financial proceedings your husband may apply to the court for a house to be sold. Whether or not he is successful rather depends on whether the house is too large for you and whether there is enough money elsewhere for him to rehouse. I agree that contact in the house is inappropriate and putting you at risk of harm. You may ask that a warning letter be sent to him about his behaviour if you feel that it would assist? Alternatively, you may suggest that he has contact outside of the home and return your daughter to you for the night whilst he stays elsewhere. Good luck





Q. Hi i split from my ex partner last year due to many arguments lies she had told and her being mentaly ill. at one point she was told she was bi polar and post natal also recently she has said she has a panic
disorder she is always lieing and manipulating me to have the baby at short notice or whenever she wants to go out. today i seen a 50 year old man who is knowen as a drug dealer letting himself in to her house she
also has a boyfriend and had a girl living there to that also concerned me as she is bi sexual she has always been promiscuous and after she got pregnant told me she had been payed for sex. i have regualr contact with my daughter 3 sometimes more nights a week iam currently unemployed and receive hardly no help from her i have made an application to court and
originaly wanted full custody but my father support worker has told me it could hurt my case for 50/50 if i cant prove all these things is this rue? i know my daughter isnt being hugely neglected or abused or i hope not but surely emotionly these things arent right for her and i think i the best candidate to care for her does something realy bad need to happen before they would consider me as her fulltime parent? and get a fair agreement which is exactly 50/50? i feel the health workers and my support workers are trying to scare away from full custody for some reason but i
feel i owe it to my daughter to try. im on the birth certificate and have been seeing in a 50/50 basis for almost a year now. thanks any help would be apreciated. also what can i do for evidence?
A. Hi

You must follow your instincts. If you feel that something is wrong and that your daughter is at risk of harm then you should proceed to doing everything that you can do within reason and order to protect her. I suggest that you produce whatever evidence you have before the court with your allegations so that investigations can take place. If the findings are contrary to what you believe, at least you will know that you have done everything possible to communicate your concerns. Yes every case has a measure of merit but in my view, it is not for you to consider chances of success if your concern is the welfare of your daughter. If you have any immediate concerns, you should involve the police. Good luck.

Q. Hi. My ex partner is only allowing me to see my daughters, my stepdaughter aged 11 and my biological daughter aged 8, for a few hours a week on a schoolnight. I have looked into it and have suggested mediation, but she has declined. I plan to go ahead with mediation, wanting to follow the correct procedure. The thing I am most worried about, however, is that she is trying to turn my daughters against me. I spoke to my ex partner on the phone tonight, about mediation, and she had put the phone on speaker
so that my kids could hear the conversation, which she quickly turned into talk of courts and rights etc. Now my step daughter doesnt even want to speak to me, and god knows what affect its having on my other daughter. Up until now my ex has used my stepdaughter as a pawn, saying that I have no rights to ask for contact with her, something I have been now told is not true. Any help is much appreciated :)
A. Hi

You are correct in that this should not be discussed in the presence of your daughters. I suggest that you proceed with mediation and raise this as one of the issues. What you are trying to achieve is fair contact with your daughters. If that cannot be achieved through discussion then court proceedings are the only other option. You are doing the right thing, good luck.





Q. Hi Harjit, I am seeking an answer to the following question.... We are at the stage of having had the first hearing with regards to my partners access to seeing his three children. Since we got engaged and
bought a house together his ex has tried everything! They have had 6 years of amicable access but since I arrived on the scene things have become more difficult. She has called in the CSA and is now on less than she was, she has demanded the kids pack up the clothes at ours and that we buy them new ones, she now demands we pick them up and drop them off (for 6 yrs they did one way each) and has demanded I get rid of my cat due to a 'supposed' cat allergy with his youngest. We are at the stage where we have agreed to all demands for the sake of the children....although we have removed cat from house we only do when the kids are there and allergy UK and asthma Uk do not believe there is an allergy but we have removed
said cat when they are there for the sake of continuance of the kids. The court has demanded an allergy test which we have agreed to but they have
said it is a joint undertaking. We have asked for her solicitors details as they were not given to us at the hearing....do we have a legal right to these? Also, the judge stated that as access was not denied on the other occasions (as we had given in to her demands for the sake of the children) the details were not an issue. We have the children and are wanting to reinstate the conatct being that each parent picks the children up one way of the visit (as it has been for the last 6 years) but she threatened denial of access if we did not before the court was involved. Where do we stand if we invite her to pick them up but do not drop them off? We are prepared to drop them off at school the next day if she does not pick them up....with a letter explaining lack of uniform. (my partner has parental responsibility). An answer asap would be much appreciated. Many thanks,
A. Hi there

Mediation should work well in a situation like this. I regret that I cannot advise you not to return the children to her because that is likely to disrupt the children. Will they have their uniform with them, will they feel confused and insecure? You can find out who her lawyers are from the court application. Have they ever written to you or attended court with her? If they have attended court, their details will be on court record. There is no quick fix, you need to find a way to work together to make this contact work. If the problems began when you came on the scene it may be insecurity on her part. Again, mediation would be great to provide some reassurances to her that may be making her feel insecure.

I hope that helps.

Q. I had for more than three years running trial regarding child contact issues. On the facs findings has been found that ex was abusive and violent, child had witnessing violent behaviour. Ex was seeing child on supervised basis for three year. Psychiatrist report stated that ex is unstable, manipulative, thought no risk poses for the child at present but could be the risk in future. Ex applied for taking child on holiday abroad but got prohibited steps order instead (he has shown in past massive interest to move permanently to Argentina, where his parents live now). In revenge on the court hearing he applied for prohibited steps order against me - and even mentioned that its not because he was afraid that I am going to move abroad but to be in equal situation. Cafcass officer said to me that child shouldn’t be penalised with this, and should has rights to go abroad on holiday, but suddenly in her report she said that should be prohibited steps order against me too because in her opinion I could feel so down and exhausted with court procedures that could wish to flee to my original country Ukraine which is not party to the Hague Convention. Its left me extremely devastated as I have son from first marriage in Ukraine and my old grandmother - and last two years have to visit them only for four - five days in a year by leaving behind the child with friends and my older son who live with me here in UK. Child every time feels in stress being left without mother for those few days, me too. And thought I have never give any reasonable grounds to believe that likely child to be taken to my original country to live permanently, as find myself much more secure here but judge firstly said that prohibited steps order going to be interim for me, but not for the ex but on the final hearing left Prohibited steps order for both of us. So I cannot exercise the Residence order fully for taking child without consent of the father for up to one month. If it would be more reasonable to appeal final hearing decision or better to fight later on - year or two, say with records returning the child after short holidays if I hopefully will be granted with time. Thank you for taking time to read and will appreciate any suggestions.
A. Hi there

I sympathise with your situation. It sounds as though the court felt that there was a slight risk and in these cases one errs on the side of caution. Your solicitor will advise you whether you have grounds for appeal. There may be other things that you can propose to try and get consent to travel such as offering to show return tickets etc. Keep trying.





Q. hi there,i have 2 sons of whom i have a residency order for but with alternate weekend contact with their father,this was set up 4 yrs ago,of which there was a period of a year of no contact at all,then 6
months of no contact because he was accused of a couple of sexual offences but not charged,and now a year of no contact which i have stopped because the last time the boys were there for half term,they came back absolutley distraught and totally out of charachters because there dad had kicked through there bedroom doors whilst they were sleeping screaming and
shouting at them whilst drunk,he made them feel awful by telling them that the week prior he tried to kill himself,which is true and on hospital records and was waving smaori swords at them saying he was gonna kill
someone,this is ontop of being violent to me whilst i was in a relationship with him,and the boys been subjected to him fighting when theyve stayed with in with other people and more domestics with other partners that he has been with since us seperating,he takes drugs and has a history of violence and drug taking all of which are on his medical and police records,i am very worried about their safety when with him especially after what happened when they stayed with him last time,and he has proven to be unstable by overdosing etc,on the positive side,my boys now are more settled at home and at school,and i believe this is because of my constant reassurence and hard work trying to fix the damage he caused to them emotionally,they were reffered to camhs and now have
mentors through the school and even the teachers have stated how different they are now compared to the past few years where they were fighting in school etc,i hve a nice home and a very settled inviroment for the
boys,and all of which i have said can be proven this time round in court as their father is trying to get contact again,i understand that i may have breached the court order but i have only done this because of their safety being paramount,what are fathers chances of his contact being put back into place after what he has done to them,oh and he has actually threatened to "smash their faces" when he was drunk,he is awful and a very good persuasive liar, thanks for your help
A. Hi there

There is no doubt that you have done the right thing by protecting the children from your ex. He may have worked through his problems but he will need to demonstrate this at a pace that is best for your children. Until you are satisfied that he poses no risk of harm, it is fine for you to continue to protect your children by keeping them from him. You may wish to propose phone calls and ensure that he is sober before handing the phone over to your children. You may also suggest some other indirect contact in the meantime such as letters, if you feel the children need it. Trust yourself, you seem to be making good decisions based on your instincts. If he applies to the court, you should not be criticised. Please be sure to communicate all of your concerns but at the same time be prepared to hear what he has to say. When faced with the prospect of losing children, people do change.

Good luck.

Q. My kids live with my ex they are being hit by her family who get drunk. I have court order for access. an investigation by social workers and police have concluded they were safe to return to their mother. The
kids are terrified and want to live with me. I had to keep them here during investigations as I was asked to do by both social work and police. but this overrun the day of return from access. Can the ex refuse future contact? I have a court order for access every 2 weeks. I was only trying to protect them will this sw report that says all is well (and is not what the kids are saying but they didn't believe them) go against me.
A. Hi there

You must continue to tell the truth as you see it. If the children are reporting being hit and you believe them, you must act accordingly. You did the right thing. If contact is stopped, you should apply to the court for it to be reinstated and then, if not earlier, notify the court of your allegations.





Q. Dear Ms Sarang, I am the mother of an eight-year-old boy, and have sole care. His father, who left us three years ago, has no desire to see his son, despite repeated requests from both of us. He does not support us in any way, which is fine as I can manage financially. I hope that with the passage of time, this situation may change and his father will want to see our son, but I also have to accept this may not happen. There are circumstances where I have been asked to get his father's signature on documents - for travel or medical care reasons etc. - and it has proved impossible to obtain it. He does not wish to have contact with us, and I do not always know where he is living. I would like to know if there is any way I can legally take sole responsibility for my son? Any advice will be much appreciated. Yours, SB
A. Hi there

If your ex is in agreement, you can apply to the court for a residence order in your favour by consent. This will give you the right to take your son out of the country for up to month without getting consent. I have not known parental responsibility to be suspended by consent but you may wish to explore that with your solicitor. You say that he disappeared when your son was 5. It may be that at some point he 'sees the light' and wants to have contact and will therefore not be content to agree to this. If you are in contact with him now, I advise that you explore your options with him and your solicitor.





Q. My son is going through the Courts for a 50/50 shared residence order. He already has a shared residence order for 2.5 nights week l and 3.5 nights week 2. His children have asked if they can have more time with
dad. Two things are not working out for my son with the existing order - firstly his day off is a Sunday and he only has them until 12 every other Sunday. Secondary no holidays were incorporated into the order. That is
the background as to why he has applied to have the order amended. He has a solicitor. His ex. wife is vehemently opposed to any change unless it is less contact. She does not talk to my son and any e-mails or texts go through me. My son would like to talk to his ex. for the sake of the boys, but his ex refuses. She has a new partner and a lot of the difficulties started when he moved in. CAFCAS have done a telephone interview and are now going to do a wishings and feeings report on the children. At the last hearing his exes solicitor spoke up and accused my son of only wanting the children so that he need not pay CSA. My son denied that of course. it is the sort of accusation which could apply both ways. Almost immediately after that, the Judge asked them both if they would abide by the wishes of the children. His ex agreed and then retracted. He asked my son and said he 'specifically wanted to pin him down'. My son said he would agree. My
qestion is, do you think that was an odd thing for a judge to say. The boys are 8 and 12. Perhaps I am feeling puzzled over sometime which may be quite routine but if one parent has agreed to abide by the wishes of the children and the other parents has not agreed to abide by the wishes of the children, how is that resolved? Thank you if you are able to answer my
query
A. Hi

I understand your question. Essentially, there is a checklist for the court to consider when deciding what order would be in the best interests of the children. One of the considerations on the list is 'wishes and feelings of the children'. It does not matter that one person refuses to consider the wishes and feeling because the court most certainly will. the court will decide how much weight to attach to those wishes and feelings dependent on the child's age and level of understanding.

Q. Can a solicitor find out about the birth of a baby if the x partner has changed their name to something they don't know and if the birth has been hidden. And also if an x partner has my national insurance number can I be traced.
A. Hi there

You can always be traced if you need to be found. If there is an issue, it's best to deal with it rather than try to hide away. There is always help available and legal advice free from some places. Ask for help to resolve the issue.

Best regards

Q. My daughter has split with her ex. She now has a residence order in her favour as his real parents no longer want him. We are waiting for a statement to be done as it looks like he will be going to special school, he is 11. She gets child benefit and tax credit but her ex pays no maintenance is there any financial help she is entitled to?
A. Hi there

You will need to see a benefits advisor for full advice. She may be entitled to maintenance from the baby's father. She should get some specific legal advice.

Best regards

Q. Hi I am on my daughter birthcertificate have spit with my partner she won't let me have her overnight until I get my own place although I'm living at my mums at the moment and there is room for my child also I have
raised two step sons since they were 10 weeks old they call me daddy and see there real dad but she says I can't see them please advise me I want to see my child more than once a week jamie
A. Hi there

You could try inviting your ex to mediation services in order to discuss why she is refusing the contact that you seek. It may be that she has some concerns that can easily be responded to by you positively and thereafter contact permitted. If she refuses to attend mediation or if it is unsuccessful, try a solicitors letter. If that does not work, you may wish to apply to the court for a contact order. Contact is the right of the child and will be granted to you if the court is satisfied that it is in the best interests of your daughter to maintain her relationship with you. This is normally the case if there are no risks of harm. The frequency and amount of contact will be ordered accordingly following recommendations to the court by a children and families reporter who will speak to both of you and report back to the court.

Q. Hi I was just wondering if u could help me, my ex partner has made an application for contact for our one year old daughter. I am stating no contact on the grounds of violence, ill treatment of children, animals, lack of insight into behaviour, drug taking and lack of ability to change Quick over view, he wrote off my car twice, breached bail conditions seven times, breached a restraining order and plays emotional mind games such as telling his oldest daughter that she loves her mums boyfriend more than him etc etc. he went to prison last year for 28days after damaging my car and breached the retraining order within. 2 weeks of coming out. AT the first directions hearing it was found out he has 21 convictions, he assaulted another girl whilst on bail to me aswell. He told the cafcass officer he is only violent when he takes drugs and drinks so the court asked him to take a drug test, which came back positive for taking drugs after he knew he had a drug test. He has not handed his statement if response in, which is nearly 3 weeks later and his solicitor has not asked for an extension, he is also trying to get an adjournement as he has booked a holiday, even after knowing of the court date and the csa are now taking further action as he won't send in his income details? I am under the impression that courts give supervised contact to everyone and I feel like he is not taking this seriously and he can do whatever he wants oh and he has threatened me on Facebook whilst this is going on, which of course got printed and went in my statement. How do u think the court will view all this? Thanks
A. Hi there

I'm sorry that you are in this situation. You are doing all of the right things by gathering your evidence and putting it before the court. No stone should be left unturned in this case because of the risk of harm to your child. Continue doing what you are doing and hopefully the court will make an appropriate order. In cases such as these it is not unusual to see indirect contact and perhaps heavily supervised contact for a period until commitment, safety and security issues have been dealt with. Good luck and keep doing what you are doing.





Q. I know someone who is in an abusive relationship. (Not physical) It seems like a PD. There is a youug child and the victim wants to separate and get divorced. The bully has threatend and used unusual tactics to get the victim to agree all the terms of childcare which she wants.That being full custody and having the victim come to the home for visitation, this all without any rights to take the child out of the house
or visit anybody the bullly does not want them to. There seems to be abandonment issues. Having isolated the victim for some time from family and friends. The bully is giving the victim dis-information,lies to get
the results she wishes. It looks like she is going to get her lawyer to draw up this arrangement and have the victim sign, agree to the divorce and attachements. If this happens, ie, that the victim has signed away Parental Rights through these threats can they later be challenged? Thank you for any help you can give.
A. Hi that was hard to follow! If an agreement is signed without full legal advice or under duress, it can be challenged.

Q. Hi me and my husband split up 3 months ago and i have had to be pushing him to have regular contact with our 3 year old son as he kept lying and making excuses not to see him. my problem now is that my husband seems to be having a lot of mental problems. He is self harming, hearing voices, believes god is talking to him and that god has healed his bad knee, he also is dirty and unkempt (not at all like himself) and shakes all the time. i am very concerned about my sons safety around his dad due to the above and wondered if i have any legal rights to either stop contact or have secured supervised visits. i have told him this week he cant have him because of my worries and begged him to get medical help but i need a long term solution.

A. Hi there

I am sorry to hear that. Your duty first and foremost is to protect your son. You describe someone who is suffering and may not be capable of protecting himself let alone your son. Further, should your son be exposed to the things that you are describing? Short answer - deny contact until he has agreed to seek help.

Q. Hello. I have a five-and-a-half year old daughter who I have hardly seen since May 2011. This was initially my decision - I took an opportunity to spend six months volunteering abroad, it was difficult to
leave my daughter but I reasoned she would be in a safe, loving environment with her mother, husband and two half-brothers (me and her mum split before she was born). I was in weekely contact with her by telephone
while I was away. Up until I went away, I had seen my daughter every week
> barring when one or the other of us was on holiday, never missed a
> maintenance payment, and had a very close and loving relationship with
> her Since I returned in December, things have gone horribly wrong. My ex
> decided to start making contact very difficult, stopped me seeing her over
> Christmas, then after only two short visits stopped me and my parents
> seeing my daughter altogether (my parents saw her regulalry even while I
> was away). I decided to apply for a contact order, but that has not gone
> as I hoped at all - the court was of the opinion that I had broken contact
> off with my daughter and therefore could not expect to get it back easily,
> even though they agreed it was in her best interests. Worse, a
> three-year-old police caution came up for cannabis possession. Again, I
> didn't consider this would be a big issue - I work with children as a
> Teaching Assistant and have been accepted onto a teacher training course
> as of September, I have passed all safeguarding criteria despite the
> caution. However, my ex has said she sees this as a reason not to allow me
> contact, she has described me as having a 'transient lifestyle', with
> 'sporadic' contact with my daughter, and described me as having a 'drink
> and drug' problem, none of which would stand up to close scrutiny.
> However, in the meantime, I am stuck not seeing my daughter. The position
> I'm in now is this - I volunteered to take a drug test to prove I am not a
> heavy drug user. I expected it to be a urine test, which I was confident I
> would pass. However, I've now found out it will have to be a hair test to
> stand up in court, which I am not confident I will pass because I am
> still, I admit, an occasional user of cannabis. I cannot afford legal
> representation and don't know what is best to fight my corner - do I come
> clean and hope the court/my ex take mercy on me? Do I request a full
> CAFCASS report to be done on me to prove I am still fit to be a father? I
> feel like I have fought this blind so far, I only want what is best for my
> daughter and although the courts might not agree with elements of my
> lifestyle, I am a good, hard-working person with a lot to offer her, yet I
> feel I could be risking losing my daughter permanently now. I'm willing to
> do anything, please help!
A. Hi there

We must trust the court to make the best decision possible for your daughter. The court will do this based on recommendations made by the Cafcass Officer. The cafcass officer's decision is based on her investigations including what you tell her. If you lie to her, you must know that your credibility will be attacked and everything else that you say will also be put to question. In this situation when you want the court to make the best decision for your daughter, the only advice is for you to be honest. It may be that the issue is diluted by your explanation of how much and when you use but I cannot comment on that.

Good luck.

Q. Hi I was just wondering if u could help me, my ex partner has made an application for contact for our one year old daughter. I am stating no contact on the grounds of violence, ill treatment of children, animals, lack of insight into behaviour, drug taking and lack of ability to change Quick over view, he wrote off my car twice, breached bail conditions seven times, breached a restraining order and plays emotional mind games such as telling his oldest daughter that she loves her mums boyfriend more than him etc etc. he went to prison last year for 28days after damaging my car and breached the retraining order within. 2 weeks of coming out. AT the first directions hearing it was found out he has 21 convictions, he assaulted another girl whilst on bail to me aswell. He told the cafcass officer he is only violent when he takes drugs and drinks so the court asked him to take a drug test, which came back positive for taking drugs after he knew he had a drug test. He has not handed his statement if response in, which is nearly 3 weeks later and his solicitor has not asked for an extension, he is also trying to get an adjournement as he has booked a holiday, even after knowing of the court date and the csa are now taking further action as he won't send in his income details? I am under the impression that courts give supervised contact to everyone and I feel like he is not taking this seriously and he can do whatever he wants oh and he has threatened me on Facebook whilst this is going on, which of course got printed and went in my statement. How do u think the court will view all this? Thanks
A. Hi there

I'm sorry that you are in this situation. You are doing all of the right things by gathering your evidence and putting it before the court. No stone should be left unturned in this case because of the risk of harm to your child. Continue doing what you are doing and hopefully the court will make an appropriate order. In cases such as these it is not unusual to see indirect contact and perhaps heavily supervised contact for a period until commitment, safety and security issues have been dealt with. Good luck and keep doing what you are doing.





Q. Hello, my situation is that i had to leave a violent ex and live in womens hostel for 6 months with my 5yr old son and his and mine 1 yr old daughter i was re housed and started all over. Threw solicitor he had regular contact which i did not like it felt i was handing her over to danger her arm was broke in his care he has kidnapped her from school i do have a residence order and had to get child services involved as he has groomed a 14yr old and sexualy abused her and the same violence i went threw now he got his 5th solicitor to try get access again which only happens when he feels like it, thing is i changed my daughters surname to mine several months ago and did not realize this order ment i had to ask courts permission. Will i be made to change this back? and if it goes to court im terrified he will get some access as he had thretened to make sure neither of us has her to make it even his words. I cant get app with my solicitor for over a week away and id like some idea where i stand im only trying to protect her she 5 now and never known him well and is terrified of him herself. Thank you Amanda
A. Hi there

I sympathise with you and what an awful experience you have had. You will need to explain why you felt the need to change her surname. In some cases this is acceptable but really, the court will decide based on the relationship with her father and several other factors. You are seeing your solicitor shortly and I trust that they will put a good case forward for you to oppose his application. Be sure to make sure that all of the facts are before the court including the feelings that your daughter is expressing to you.





Q. hi, i split from my youngest daughters father just over a year ago now and he has recently decided that with his new girlfriend and her 2 children they are moving over 2 hours drive away from where me and my daughter live. He has our daughter every weekend to stay on a friday night with him at his girlfriends mothers house where he has been lodging for a few months now which is the house at the back of my garden and before he stayed there he was lodging with my brother who lives 5 doors away so seeing our daughter hasn't been an issue for him. I have tried to explain to him that I am ok with him picking our daughter up every other weekend on a friday night and bringing her home on a sunday evening once he moves away but before i am happy for this to happen i'd like for him and myself to get something legally binding stating when he can pick her up and that she must be home by a certain time on the sunday of which is his weekend. He thinks I am trying to stop him from being able to see his daughter, which I am not I no that my daughter seeing her father and keeping the good relationship she already has built with him is very important to uphold, but my ex's new girlfriend and her family I know very well and recently my sister-in-law who has a little girl with his girlfriends brother had some issues where her family and the father picked the daughter up for the day and failed to return her when agreed, when my sister-in-law tried contacting all of them to find out where her daughter was they refused to return her and she went through 5 agonising days of which he kept their daughter refusing to return her home and had a court battle with him to get her back. I am so worried that this will be the case for me unless I have something of legal upstanding stating when he can collect her and when she must be home. Is there anything I can do to get something like this put in place or if not what do you advise? thank you for your help
A. Hi there

I understand why you are anxious. The court will not make an order unless there is a need for one. If your ex has never previously let you down, I can understand why he may be reluctant to agree to an order. perhaps be reassured by him and make it clear that if things do not go as planned, you will want something in writing. You have said that he has worked hard to build what is a good relationship with his daughter. Have you any reason to believe that he will let you down?

Best regards

Q.


i have 4 boys 2 with my ex and the 2 i need help with. i have been back a forth from court for 3 years, my ex has proved to be unreliable and uncommitted to the children. we had a finding if fact hearing in which it was proven that the relationship was violent and abusive he has also been found to have used cocaine, he had to have a psychiatric report done which found he had an emotionally unstable personality disorder of borderline type. He has had to flee the town in which he was living because of the distructive lifestyle he leads and now has many people after him. i have informed the court that i will no longer be allowing contact as i fear for the safety of my boys but still i find myself talking to deaf ears please help me when will somebody listen and say enough is enough this man is no good for my children and contact with him will create more harm than good?
A. Hi

I sympathise with you. You have a duty to protect your children. From what you say they are at risk of harm. I suggest that you hire a good lawyer to relay this information to the court and in the meantime, do not permit contact unless you are satisfied that the risk is not present.

Bests regards
Q. Hi Hope you can help. I separated from my ex husband in 2009 and he has access to our 7 yr old son 3 nights out of 7 each week. I feel this is too much and would like this to be reduced to 2 nights (maybe limited to weekends only to not disturb the school week). I have brought this up with my ex who becomes very aggressive and intimidating. Today we had an issue whereby he would not bring my son home after a weekend visit and i had to call the police who advised me to take a shaparone with me to collect my son. My ex has done this before and does not see why he should collect/drop off my son although it is him that wants the access. I spoke to my solicitor today who said that as there is no court order in place I do not have to give him contact however I am concerned my son will suffer and blame me. Is there anything I can do so that my ex adheres to my wishes regarding his access?
A. Hi

Perhaps try mediation services to discuss reducing the contact and agree details of collection and return. Your solicitor could write to him making proposals and invite comment from him. If all of that fails, you may apply to the court for a defined contact order that will specify exact times of contact and who is to collect and return him.

As for reducing the contact, perhaps try given more reasons for your proposal. Is the midweek contact disruptive and if so, how? Does your 7 yr old enjoy the contact? Where possible, try to reach an agreement amicably because as your son gets older, more and more issues will arise that you will no doubt need to agree on.

Best regards
Q. I have a SRO and PR but what can I go for next? I finally have a contact order but my ex is not giving me her new address or telling me who she is living with? Can I make her give me this information as she has mine? Thanks
A. Hi there

Do you mean a shared residence Order or contact Order? It is not clear, as for the address, if there is a risk of harm one party can withhold an address. As for who she is living with, do you have any specific concerns about the company that she is keeping? To a certain extent, you need to trust each other with the children including which adults you choose to have in the house unless there is a reason to suspect that the children may be at risk of harm. You need to be specific about your reasons and concerns. Inform your lawyer and consider writing to your ex.

Best regards
Q. Hello I have been married to my wife for 6 years. My wife has a daughter aged 11 for whom I was granted
parental responsibility (PR) 4 years ago by the family division. The biological father took my wife to county court 2 years ago to obtain PR, my wife agreed to a PR agreement which they both signed. However, at no
time during the court process was I consulted by either his legal team or the court on whether I agreed to him having PR Where they able to make an agreement without involving me as I have PR?? kind regards your
response....A. Hi there I am at a loss as to why your wife did not consult you about the process? I expect that a search was not done and your wife did not disclose to the court that you too had parental responsibility. What you do now rather depends on what you wish to achieve considering that this was two years ago. my response... My wife did of course consult
me throughout the whole process, what I meant was that no search appeared to have been done - I guess that they just assumed I didn't have it. I don't have any intentions, I was just curious whether any agreement made would be legal as I hadn't given my permission for someone else to have PR. (no malicious intent, just curious....)
A. Hi

You would need to go to your lawyers to get this investigated.

Best regards
Q. hi ive split up from my ex partner for 8 months now we have a daughter thats 18 months i was seeing her overnight wed and sat one week
then tue fri the other week alternating. Recently she wants me to just have her over the weekend but i dont want to go the full week without seeing her she said its for the reason of its breaking her sleeping
pattern up and its too early for me bringing her back in the morning which i have too before work i just want to know what im entitled to how many nights im entitled too see her through the week as ive always payed maintenance and if i would be eligible for a contact order to go back to the original plan? Thanks
A. Hi there

Maintenance does not entitle you to contact. Contact is the right of the child and occurs if it is in her best interests to maintain a relationship with you. It sounds like you are a devoted father and want to see her as much as possible. For contact to be reduced is unacceptable to you because you want to see her more. I advise that you try and discuss your feelings with the mother and try to reach a compromise that suits the child. Sometimes children are ok waking up very early whilst others are not. You need to work together to agree a solution because you have many years of joint decision making to go yet.

If you do not succeed, try mediation or ask your lawyer to write a letter. Ideally, try to work it out between you amicably.

Good luck

Q. Hi, My wife and are have separated after 14 years, nearly 10 years marriage. We have 2 daughters, 4 and 7 and will be moving out the family home in May to live with my ex wife.I will be having the girls to
stay with me on Fridays to Sunday or Monday morning. I am just about to start a job which only pays £16k per year, Am I entitled to any kind of benefit? I know my ex will get good support but wondered if I will get any
help? Kind regards
A. Hi there

You will need to contact the benefits advisor.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

Q. hi ive split up from my ex partner for 8 months now we have a daughter thats 18 months i was seeing her overnight wed and sat one week then tue fri the other week alternating. Recently she wants me to just
have her over the weekend but i dont want to go the full week without seeing her she said its for the reason of its breaking her sleeping pattern up and its too early for me bringing her back in the morning which
i have too before work i just want to know what im entitled to how many nights im entitled too see her through the week as ive always payed maintenance and if i would be eligible for a contact order to go back to
the original plan? Thanks
A. Hi there

Maintenance does not entitle you to contact. Contact is the right of the child and occurs if it is in her best interests to maintain a relationship with you. It sounds like you are a devoted father and want to see her as much as possible. For contact to be reduced is unacceptable to you because you want to see her more. I advise that you try and discuss your feelings with the mother and try to reach a compromise that suits the child. Sometimes children are ok waking up very early whilst others are not. You need to work together to agree a solution because you have many years of joint decision making to go yet.

If you do not succeed, try mediation or ask your lawyer to write a letter. Ideally, try to work it out between you amicably.



Good luck
Q. hi i was hoping u could help me please as i feel totally let down by my solicitor. my ex partner left me and my 2 children a year ago. it was all amicable and he would see them regularly and phone to speak to them most days but then he got a girlfriend who has basically made my life hell. he would go for long periods without seeing the children, i have NEVER stopped him seeing them, always encouaged it as my children need their daddy. but last month he took me to court for a contact order, reason being that i keep stopping access when i feel like it, hes admitted to me this isnt true and that he simply did this to prove to his new girlfriend he is where he says he is. ive had numerous nasty phoncalls from her. things are now terrible between me and my ex me and my children are not allowed to ring him to sort out arrangments etc. and this has affected our children as their mummy and daddy do not get on. anyway this court process which was totally unecessary has caused me so much stress, i feel ill, i havnt done anything wrong and hes done this, we are back at court in may for a review. i really dont want his new partner being introduced she is vile, shown me no respect and he hasnt known her very long, ive read somewhere about a prohibited steps order could i apply for one of these to prevent him from introducing her? my children are only 5 and 3 i feel this would be very unsettling for them. also i realise i cannot change their surname to mine but ive heard that there is something you can arrange with your solicitor "known as" so that i could inform schools and doctors that they are known as my surname, is this true? thank u very much for your time .


A. Hi

If you do not wish to go to court you can suggest an adjournment to mediate and go to see a mediator.

Contact order – this may work well for you. You can specify contact dates, times and who is to collect and return

New girlfriend – I’m not sure how long he has been in a relationship with his girlfriend but you need to trust him to manage the relationship and messages that she sends to the children. If you feel that he is unable or unwilling to do this to benefit the children, you should raise it when you are next at court and allow him to reassure you. You may include a recital in the contact order about negative messages etc but the difficulty comes in proving things. At least the recital will set out your intentions.

Changing surname – not without his consent or a court order. If you do, he can apply to the court for you to change it back and ensure that they are known as the correct surname.

Best regards

Q. Hi; I am a 28 year old male who currently lives with partner and her 3 children from a previous relationship. I have a daughter myself and am currently moving through the family law system to gain contact. I had a positive relationship with my daughter but contact was halted when i met my existing partner. Needless to saw proceedings began and here we are almost 3 years later. It began with a contact centre proposal and then mediation which were both refused by the resident parent. After this Cafcass aimed to support us and here we are. The resident parent has accused me of being everything under the sun and im happy to say i have disproven all allegations with no problems. She does however persist in obstructing court orders. For example, I was awarded indirect contact 12 months ago, for the past 6 months she has purposely blocked this despite Cafcass stating it would provide my child with stability and help her confidence to grow ect. In addition she has failed to attend every Cafcass meeting and all have had to be resheduled (this covers the entirety of the
case resulting in 6 adjourments). More recently I was awarded contact through the utilisation of a contact centre. She ignored the contact centres communication for 2 months (i have the letter from them explaining) and when contact began she failed to show up. After the contact centre finally spoke with her she showed up and my initial contact was positive. This unfortunately was the beggining of a pattern. She has
cancelled every single alterate contact session which has ,eant I have has one contact session a month. The most recent Cafcass report has requested yet another adjournment following delays which suprised me as the contact centre report specifically highlighted the need for interventions to investigate possible influence being placed upon my child. Is there any
real consequence for her continual obstructions or will she remain free to ignore court orders and make slanderous comments indefinately? 30 months in an extremely long time and 22 of those months can be directly attributed to her actions (based on official correspondance and not speculation). Many Thanks for taking the time to read this.
A. Hi

I am so sorry to read about this frustrating situation. I regret that delay is not uncommon but you must persevere and when the case is looked at, the court should make an order accordingly and deal with the history of non compliance. Be sure to keep a record of all lateness and missed meetings / sessions. It may take time but hopefully, you will get the correct result.

Best regards






Q. Hi, I have a 4 and half year old daughter with my ex. We split during the pregnancy, but everything has been pretty much amicable since the birth. I've paid maintenance every month, and have access every
fortnight. This is all fine, but just yesterday; my ex tells me that she is getting my daughter christened. Neither of us is religious at all, and i don't really have an issue with it. But I am given no choice as to who the god parents are. My only concern is access rights. What rights do I have regarding this? As i say Iâ?Tm not religious, but should something happen to me, what rights do my family have regarding access. Could my ex just cut my family out completely if she wanted? Do the god parents assume any legal rights? My family is very close and would always be willing to
do the best for my daughter whatever she needed. Thanks
A. Hi there

God parents do not have any legal rights.

I understand your concern. Your daughter has the right to maintain a relationship with you and your family. To that end, grandparents may also apply to the court for a contact order. It is not as easy as you applying however, there is a process that their lawyer will explain to them. You may want to explain to them that if you die and they are excluded, they have the right to apply to the court. You may also wish to have this conversation with your ex whilst things are amicable. Explain to her how important it is to you for your daughter to maintain a relationship with her parental family just as she would want her to maintain a relationship with the maternal family should she die.

I hope that helps

Best regards
Q. my ex partner wants me to give her permission for my son to have residency in turkey. will this effect my rights to my son, an can they be brought home if she trys to keep him out there?
A. Hi

I think that you are asking whether there should be permission for her to take him on holiday to Turkey. Further, if she does not return, what can you do about it. My advice is to see a lawyer specialising in international family law as soon as possible. It is one thing to tell you that you have legal remedies to have the child returned to you if he is not returned however, it is something quite different getting it done. Frankly, it is not easy. As a starting point we need to know where your son is habitually resident, (where does he normally live), what is the purpose of the trip, do you have return tickets, do you have contacts in Turkey, do you know enough people where she will be staying etc. If there is a danger of her taking him without your consent, contact the police about issuing a port alert to prevent her leaving any major ports with him. If you have the passport, retain it until there is an agreement.

Unless you have strong reassurances of return, until you are certain about the procedure for his return, I would not advise giving consent.

Equip yourself with sound, specific legal advice. An appointment with a good lawyer may costs £200 for an hour but it's worth it in this situation.

Best regards
Q. Hello Harjit, I wonder if you can answer my query. I am a nrp with two children; one 11 year old boy and one 8 year old girl both living with their mother in what used to be our family home and her new partner
whom she is engaged to be married again. We separated in 2008 and divorced in 2009 and a court order was put in place covering the distribution of assets. In the court order it specified a sum based on my net income at the time to pay for child support on a monthly basis. I paid that every month (bar one minor deduction) until last year when I was made redundant
and had to claim benefits. I continued to pay 50% from the small amount of savings I had for the first couple of months but couldn't after that for a few months until I found contract work again; at which point I started paying in full again apart from over Christmas when my hours worked dropped. Since then I have paid in full an d am continuing to do so. I spoke to my ex wife at the time to explain my situation and she new full well that I couldn't make the payments. In addition to that since August last year I have not had access to my son as she allows him to stay with her and not visit me with his sister who comes to stay with me every other weekend. I have recently received a couple of letters from her solicitor stating that she now wants to recover the unpaid child support from last year but I I don't have the money to pay it. I have been told that I should have taken it to the CSA when I was made redundant but I knew that it wouldn't be that long before I found work again and I am happy to pay to cupport my children and wanted to as soon as I could afford it again. The solicitor is now threatening to take this matter to court but I feel
that she has not fulfilled her obligations to the court order because she has allowed my son to stay with her or invariably with friends on the weekends when I should be seeing him. In my view at 11 years old he should be looked after by whoever his parents say, its' not for him to decide where he wants to stay and his mother support that. Do I have a case to counter this threat of court action on the basis of prevention of access to my son? And what is the legal situation regarding the child support payments that I was unable to make? I hope that makes sense and I'd really appreciate your view and response.
A. Hi there

Firstly money and contact should be dealt with quite separately. Not being able to pay maintenance should not prevent your children from maintaining their relationship with you.

Contact - invite reasons from your ex/her lawyer in writing as to why contact has been stopped. This should not be money related. Unless contact is reinstated, consider returning to court for a defined contact order to get it reinstated.

Money - ask your solicitor to review the court order. Your ex had the option of either enforcing the maintenance or applying to the CSA. From what you say, she did neither. you need to find out what her intentions are now relating to the arrears. Depending on what she plans to do, you should seek specific legal advice.

Best regards
Q. I have recently discoved that my wife of 6 years has been having an affair for the past 9 months. As a result i am looking to start Divorce Proceedings. Am i able to remove her from the family home despite us
jointly owning the mortgage. The affair could also get her sacked from work, does this favour me in gaining residence over the children? I pay the majority of the bills and mortgage. Althopugh she has effectively
brought our children up as i have had to work, while on maternity leave she placed our daughter into childcare to give her a break, which turned
out to be a break to see her lover, surely this shows a lack of parental responsibility on her part, which would favour my case. I also look after the children at night and always have gotten up with them throughout the night, for nappy changes, bottles and any comforting needed. The last thing i want is to lose residency or contact with my children because i am viewed as the breadwinner by the courts and not the carer, i refuse not to see my children everyday.
A. Hi there

I am sorry to hear about this. I answer your points in order:

1 can you remove her from the family home? - not without her agreement or a court order

2 does her lack of income help your case for residence - no. In fact it may assist her case because she will be a stay at home mommy

3 many parents leave their children in some form of childcare whilst on maternity leave. It is good for them and good for the child socially. It is sad if that time was used to have an affair, as you say, but I can't see this as being very relevant. It may also be difficult to prove

4 you sound like a great, attentive and loving dad. Please don't be afraid of losing your children. If there is a dispute, the courts appoint a children and families officer to prepare a report on what is in the best interests of your children. As your relationship is so strong and you are so dedicated and determined to do as much as possible for them, you may wish to seek a shared care arrangement where you do see them as much as your wife does. If its logistically possible shared care is a great starting point.

If you feel that the marriage is defiantly over, try to concentrate on reaching an amicable agreement with your wife that benefits the children. You will have to work with each other making joint decisions for some time yet. Best to start off as you mean to go on if that is possible at this stage.

Best regards
Q. I have a child with a disability my sons dad is taking him for a week and has said that he is entitled to his disability money for that period I had already told him I wouldnt expect maintenance that week and would buy all his food, is he entitled to it?
A. As far as I am aware the main carer gets the allowance and this is not apportioned because of an occasional holiday.
Q. Hi My sister left her ex last april, and although for first 8 wks he were ok and he saw the kids regularly he then turned and the kids have heard all sorts and now are not seeing there dad due to him threatening to
keep them and constantly bad mouthing their mother and her new partner He has been trying to set her up to be a bad mother as he is now applied for residency, he has never spent one day with the kids on his own & seems to think its ok to let the kids talk and do what they want etc etc etc. She had to leave the house she were in because of it all (oh and his twin brother attacked her!! bruised her face badly and tried to kill her!) and she is now in a serious situation where she is being put into emergency housing B&B. Can her ex get an emergency residency order for the kids if
she does this or stays with me? If the court date wasn't so near it wouldn't be so bad, we just need to know that she will hopefully still keep the kids, at the end of the day he's only doing it to be spiteful and to try and hurt her!
A. Hi there

I am sorry to hear about this situation. It sounds like there is already a court date. Your sister will need to attend and notify the court of her concerns about the children living with him, the attack and his aggressive nature. Whatever allegations are made by her or by him will need to be investigated by the court. A court welfare officer may be appointed to make recommendations to the court or, social services if they have been involved.

I advise that she attend court and get some urgent legal advice from a family law solicitor who is a member of resolution.






Q. my x has accused me of abuse and neglect,during my weeks visitation i took my daughter to the hospital and she was throughly checked by a specialist paediatric department.i have had solicitor letter
raising concerns which is why i acted by taking her to prove my innocence and to make sure nothing was happening to her from her mother.i also informed social services and they did a check and spoke to my daughter and have cleared everything and are very happy with her care while in my custody,but the issues raised by her mother have now given me grave
concerns as to whether i should return her at the end of her week.i have a court order in place stating when i pick her up and when i return her.what happens if i break the court order to save my daughter from whatever is happening at her mothers.i dont want to get criminal record by breaking the court order to protect my daughter as that then will lead to me
> getting supervised visits ,which of course i donot want.but if i take her back and something happens to her how can i live with myself
A. Hi

You have a duty to protect your child if you feel that she is at real risk of harm. Please see your solicitor about returning to court rather than just breaching the terms of the order. You will need to explain your concerns and invite the court to make an order in your favour. You will need to be specific about your allegations and explain exactly why your daughter is at risk of harm by returning to her mother. Act quickly because delay will only confuse the child and make matters worse.






Q. How likely is the mother of my daughter to be granted a prohibited steps order in relation to stoping my wife from having contact with my daughter. We live togeather and married. My Childs mother will lie to achieve her goal and say anything! Please can you provide some advice.
A. Hi there

If you are married and live with your wife, the Prohibited Steps Order will mean that you have to have contact either outside of the house or when your wife is not present. Very difficult I imagine particularly if there is overnight contact. Whether this PSO will be granted rather depends on the allegations made. Is she alleging that there is a risk of harm if the children see your wife? Whatever the allegation, it will need to be proven. Without having further details, it is difficult to give an opinion. Contact depends on what is in the best interests of the children.

I hope that helps.






Q. I really need advice basically I have two girls 1 and 3 my ex had my 3 year in his country for 10months whilst he was training. I brought up r 1 year old by myself for a year. Social services got involved and I am now with the safeguarding team. It was agreed on a Temporary basis that he have 3year and I have the 1year old. This was not a legally binding contract. It has now been a month and I haven't seen her no contact has been arranged. I speak to her on the phone daily. I do have a solicitor which has a prohibition order in place, the non molestation order is about to go through also. She has advised we put in for a residence order but it may not go through. My ex is on a visa on the basis I was his civil partner, therefore he is illegally in this country, I have informed immigration. Also there is a long history of domestic violence. Social services have said this is a personal matter between myself and ex and cannot help me. Even though my sister is more willing to support myself with the two girls together. I did say to social services what if I was to go get her back and they said that wouldn't look good as I first need to show u can look after the 1 year old. Where do I stand in getting her back? Someone has mentioned I go to the police and tell them he is not willing to give her back and get them to go get her back for me.
A. Hi there

I am sorry to read about this situation. If social services are involved I presume that they will be assessing parenting of both children. Essentially doing risk assessments to identify any risk of harm so that they can advise/act accordingly. It sounds like things have changed and you have moved forward. You may wish to speak to your solicitor about updating social services and applying for both children to live with you permanently if that is what you believe to be the best situation for the children. I regret that I cannot give you more advice without knowing the whole circumstances. I do however advise that you return to your solicitor to update him/her accordingly so that the correct decision can be made. If it is possible for the children to live together safely with you, that certainly sounds sensible. However, it depends on the circumstances of your ex and assessments of risks to the children. Good luck.
Q. My question is this: I am a single dad with a 4 year old son. I have been separated from my wife since 2008 and in February 2009 there was a court order for child support and visiting rights for me since my wife has full custody. Since March 2011 I have not been able to see my son, I have tried on numerous occasions with success. There was not problem to see my son up until March of 2011, I do not know why she wont let me see my son. The only one who has been able to see him is my grandmother and she has tried herself to know why she will not let me see my son. I think that now I need to see a lawyer about this, 1st to have the court order
changed and then to restart my visits. I did not have a lawyer at the beginning cause I did not have the money to hire one so I went along with my wife and her lawyer. She does not have the same lawyer anymore, can I retain the service of the lawyer that she had for the first court order or do I need to find another one. I do not know of any lawyer in the district
A. Hi there

I am sorry to read about the difficulty in finding lawyers. Please try the resolution website. I'm afraid that your wife's solicitors will refuse to represent you because they represented her on the same issue. You could also try the Law Society 'search for a lawyer' service. It sounds to me like you have no option but to apply to court for contact if your ex will not try mediation to resolve the issue. You may want to try finding a McKenzie Friend. Do contact Bob (onlyDads) about this.

Good luck
Q. Hi, I am a dad to my 3yr old daughter and a stepdad to my ex's son who is 8yrs old. My ex, since we have seperated, has threatened on several instances to move the children to be nearer here new partner/s. This happens on a regular basis as she seems incapable of holding down a relationship, she finds a new man and within weeks she wants to move. In the past it has always been near to where I live with my new partner and our daughter, but this time she is threatened to move further afield. This is because she moved into a rental property with her ex that she now cant afford. I have the children to stay every other weekend for 2 nights and
every wednesday night. If they move this could be slashed to one night every other weekend due to the distance i would have to travel to pick them up. Also she is insisting her son would have to attend football training and matches for a local club when they move, this would cause havoc with my weekends as she insists they cant be seperated.
A. Hi

Your question is incomplete but I suspect that you want to know whether you have a say in whether she moves. As you are having contact frequently and have parental responsibility, you should be consulted on important decisions that impact upon the children's lives, such as where they live. Your ex would be advised to discuss the move with you (perhaps through mediation) in order to establish the impact on your children. Specifically for you, how will it impact upon contact. You point out that it will mean reduced contact for you. If there remains a disagreement and mediation does not work, you may apply to the court for Prohibited Steps Order to prevent the move until and unless contact has been agreed. One of the tasks for the Judge will be to establish the reasons for the move. If it is a genuine move to better her life and take advantage of better housing and prospects, the court may feel that it would be unfair to prevent the move providing that, she has done her best to maintain the children's relationship with you by making sensible contact proposals. It depends on all of the circumstances of the case including her reasons for wanting to move and how your relationship with the children will be maintained.

You are advised to try and discuss it via mediation or lawyers failing which, apply to the court for a Prohibited Steps Order if you need to prevent a rash move and a defined contact Order so that you know when you are seeing the children.

Good luck.
Q. I have had to call social services regarding concerns over my children and was informed that my children are on the system, my question is shouldnt I have been informed being their father?
A. Hi

You should write to social services for an explanation.

The social services work to policies depending on the nature of the complaint and the complainant.

I hope that helps.
Q. Hello, my partner has a son with his ex and we had to fight for access and currently there is a court order in place for alternate weekends.However my partner and I are being harassed by his ex girlfriend each weekend we have his son, she telephones consistently at night and initially we tried to encourage J to speak to her but he is 2 years old. We now dont answer the phone because she shouts and swears at us, and also her father has called to threaten us with the Police as we are not
answering the phone. We get voicemails threatening us with Social Services and nast and abusive text messages from her. Is this just what we need to
put up with? She clearly is not happy about the court order as she attempted to withold J from his father because of our relationship. All we ever did was try to get access to him, but now that we have she just wont leave us alone for the one weekend we have him. Please advise.
A. Hi

I'm sorry to hear about this. I suspect that she wants reassurance but there is a time to phone and in the middle of the night is not appropriate. Have you tried mediation to discuss this issue? She should be invited to explain what her concerns are. You could then try to provide her with reassurances. Ultimately, she needs to learn to trust you during contact. Reassure her that you will call her if there is ever an issue. If it is bordering on harassment, you need to go back to the solicitors and ask that she be warned formally. Keep a record of the threatening messages to show to your solicitor and ask that she not have any contact with you over the weekend save for in emergencies. If it is genuine insecurity on her part, you may want to suggest that initially, you will call her perhaps once a day at bedtime but there is no obligation on you to do this.






Q. My ex has my 5 year old daughter during the week I have her every weekend but she cancels all the time. What can I do? Is there a legal agreement she can sign to get her to agree and stick to?
A. Hi

That's a shame. The only thing that is binding is a Contact Order. You could try a formal letter from your solicitors threatening a court application if she does not stick to the contact schedule. You may also want to try mediation to discuss the impact infrequency of contact is having on the relationship with your daughter.

Good luck.
Q. Hello. I have sole custody of our 12 year old son due to my ex wife's affairs throughout our marriage. Since she left the marital home,
our son has hardly seen his mother - who incidentally only lives half mile away - I will not go into the excuses from her. Before Xmas 2011, I had to take out a restraining order on her, due to her violent and verbal behaviour. All has been quiet since. I have now managed to save up a small
amount of money and want to take our son on a short holiday to Spain, but my ex-wife is holding our sons passport and birth certificate and is refusing to give them back. Our son has been on the telephone to her, pleading and crying, as he was so looking forward to the holiday, but she will not relent. I would be grateful for any advice, many thanks.
A. Hi

I am sorry to hear about this situation. If you have tried to communicate with her and she will not listen, perhaps try a firm but fair solicitors letter. If that does not work, you may apply to the court for a specific issues Order. If granted, this will be an order for her to give you the passport before the holiday. If your ex is objecting to the holiday, the court will also hear evidence as to her reasons for refusing to give her consent and make a decision as to whether the holiday is in the best interests of your son. Please note that unless you have a Residence Order in your favour, you still need her consent to take your son out of the country. To travel without her consent is 'child abduction'. Many people assume that they cannot be guilty of abducting their own children but please be warned that you can. This is not uncommon.

If you are applying to the court, you may also wish to invite the court to make a Residence Order in your favour. If granted, this is an order confirming that your son should reside with you. This Order provides security of residence where you are insecure and unsure about what your ex may do particularly if she is not co operative and refuses to communicate about simple issues. A benefit of this order is that it permits you to take your son abroad for short holidays without getting your ex's consent (up to one month). You should always inform her of you whereabouts for emergency purposes in any event, however, her consent will not be needed.

I suggest you make an appointment with your local Resolution solicitor as soon as possible. Best of luck!






Q. Hi my ex partner who I had 3children with was arrested in august 2009 when my little boy was 2and 5months and my twins boyand girl were 17months he was arrested for sexual abuse against my fatiguea who was 13at the time he been in prison not long enough and not had any contact with children since which is fineby me all I want to know his can my new partner adopt them without his permission. Thanks
A. Hi there

If your ex has parental responsibility for your children then his consent will be required. The court does have the power to dispense with the need for this consent but you would need to make an application for this. As to the chances of success for your new partner being able to adopt the children and for consent to be dispensed with, you should seek legal advice from you local solicitor. Your local social services will also be able to assist you with the procedure for the adoption process. There are also alternatives to adopting that you may wish to seek advice about.

Good luck.
Q. Hi a I'm writing on behalf of my son as I don't where to ask for advice. His current position is that his wife has ended the relationship as she longer loves him. He is paying all bills for his wife and 5 year old daughter. His wife had not worked since their child was born. Although
the relationship is not violent or abusive he feels that can longer stay in the family home, which is mortgaged. He's currently staying with us 5
nights a week, at his parents as he has nowhere else to live. He stays in the family home at weekends. He needs to find suitable accomadation for himself and find out what he his responsible for. He is fully willing to pay for his daughter but could not continue to support tha marital home
and pay rent on another property. What are his legal obligations in this situation. His wife has refused mediation. Where should he consider doing
next? Many thanks
A. Hi

This is not an unusual situation. Often when there is a separation there is not enough money to house both parties. The priority is to negotiate a financial settlement so that your son and his wife can make some decisions about the future. If she is not willing to attend mediation, your son's lawyer may have advised him to issue a court application for a financial order. This should encourage some dialogue and co operation from her. The process need not be lengthy or expensive. As soon as she starts co operating, it may be that the lawyers can advise on a settlement out of court. Particularly if there are, as you say, limited assets. It seems to me that the key next step is to start a dialogue with her. It may be that there is no incentive on her part because she is living comfortably and managing financially.

In terms of his obligations, quite generally, he has an obligation to maintain their daughter at 15% of his net income subject to an upper limit and deductions for overnight stays. He may want to visit this useful site for options. http://www.cmoptions.org/index.asp

There is a legal obligation to maintain the ex wife but this depends on your son's ability to pay and his ex partner's needs. Your son should see his local family law solicitor preferably a member of Resolution. He should get some specific legal advice with a firm plan to progress matters.

Good luck.
Q. my ex has my son every other weekend and each weds from 5.30 pm till 8 thurs morn i have just been told the csa are lowerin my money as he has shared custody but its not really equal is this true
A. Hi there

You should ask for a breakdown of the calculation and appeal it where you think necessary
Q. hi there my ex partner who is the father of my of my 2 year old. he wants to see my little girl witch im happy for but he cant come to my houses because of his temper & he can not be trust to take her out as he is a drug dealer & a user. please help as i want know my rights.
A. Hi there

I am sorry to hear about your predicament. Where such risks of harm exist, it may be worth suggesting that contact take place in a contact centre or supported environment excluding your him until the risks have been eliminated. Do contact your local solicitor for advice on how to agree this with your ex amicably if he will not attend mediation. I advise that you approach it in a way that shows your concern but isn't accusatory or aggressive. Allow him an opportunity to reassure you and demonstrate a commitment. people change, children are the best reason for change.

Good luck
Q. Hello I have been married to my wife for 6 years. My wife has a daughter aged 11 for whom I was granted parental responsibility (PR) 4 years ago by the family division. The biological father took my wife to county court 2 years ago to obtain PR, my wife agreed to a PR agreement which they both signed. However, at no time during the court process was I consulted by either his legal team or the court on whether I agreed to him having PR Where they able to make an agreement without involving me as I have PR?? kind regards
A. Hi there

I am at a loss as to why your wife did not consult you about the process? I expect that a search was not done and your wife did not disclose to the court that you too had parental responsibility. What you do now rather depends on what you wish to achieve considering that this was two years ago.
Q. My ex agreed to a change to the court order dates for a foreign holiday and is now (2 weeks before the holiday which is booked and paid for) saying she's changed her mind and is sticking to the court order.
What can I do?
A. Hi

I'm sorry to hear that. I'm afraid that the court order will apply until it has been amended if there is a disagreement. You should seek legal advice about applying to the court for permission to leave on different dates explaining fully that you only booked and paid for the holiday upon her promise to change the dates. Did she put it in writing via her lawyers? The court will need to make a decision based on what is in the best interests of the child(ren).

Good luck.


Q. i have parental rights to my son, who is 4, my ex is convinced he has autism so arranged to meet the doctors, she never told me the appointment so i didnt go, which is where they sadid he has autism spectrum disorder. i've looked this up and he has none of those symptoms, hes well behaved, loving points to things social, just behind on his speech which is coming along. i dont know if shes trying to get extra money of benefits or what. has she got the right to do this without me being involved
A. Hi there

Gosh that sounds familiar! My nanny was convinced that my son was autistic and when we had him checked, he was given the all clear! I didn't recognise the boy that my nanny was describing to me but of course, I had to get it checked out. Children behave in different ways in the compnay of different people for several reasons. I don't think that it was wrong for your ex to get him checked and the fact that he has been diagnosed means that there must be something in it, correct? I do think that it is sad that there is no dialogue between you. Could that be because you disagree? Perhaps suggest that you vists the GP together and have a discussion about why he displays certin behaviours in the presence of one parent and not the other. It may be that when the GP hears of your opposite experience, it will help in trying to get a correct diagnosis. The answer must start with the answer to most problems - try to talk to one another and agree on what to do together sharing experiences. If that fails, I see no reason why the GP can't speak to you about her findings.

Good luck


Q. does my ex wife have to inform me if my child goes to hospital
A. She doesn't have to but it would be nice if she did! Wouldn't she want to be informed if you took your child to hospital….






Q. The person that I had a brief encounter with left me with a baby, which he has never paid a single penny for or seen her. He was a bully a woman beater and a drug user and he dragged me to the registry office to
get his name on the birth certificate. I was so scared and I did not want this I wanted me and the baby to break free As soon as the certificate was done he was gone!! I met my now Husband when my daughter was 6 weeks old and he is her dad. We have never seen the biological donor or heard from him Surely I can get him removed from her birth certificate under these circumstances. My husband, who is a Paratrooper in the Special Forces, wants to adopt our daughter but we are scared because of what an awful person the donor is, he would just do anything to throw a spanner in
the works. Please help us, we are so desperate to do the best thing for our daughter. She is so grounded and such an amazing intelligent girl and we are so scared of the awful life she would be exposed to if the donor were to be any where near her.
A. Hello

I sympathise with you because you are doing your best to move on from a horrible experience and the law is not assisting you. Another way of looking at this is that the law is protecting your child's right to be aware of her biological father. In time, you may wish to explain why he is not in her life and she may make her own informed decision. For now, he is not in her life and your new Partner is. There is no reason why he cannot apply to adopt her although note that the biological father will need to consent unless the court dispenses with the requirement. Do you fear that if you start adoption proceedings, he will want to have contact with your daughter? I suspect this is the case. If that were to happen, you will have the opportunity of opposing the application and giving your reasons why contact would be contrary to your daughter's best interests. The court will need to review the evidence and decide on what is best for your daughter.


Q. I am expecting to become a father in May 2012. after a breakdown in relationship with my partner we are no longer together, this has been the case sinse shortly after we found out. I have kept in contact and have
tried to be as supportive as possible with no joy. At first i was having replies via text messages and it has got to the point where I no longer have any return of contact. I am worried about not being allowed to see my child when it is born, i ahve tried to find out some information via the internet but there seems to be a lack of information avaliable. Do i have any rights? what can i do if i am not allowed to see my child?
A. Hi there

If you know where she lives, you may wish to write a letter explaining that you want to be involved and see if there is a way in which you can both agree on how this will happen. If she will not speak to you, invite her to see a mediator. If those two things fail, wait until the child is born and then see your lawyer to formally request contact and involvement. If it is rejected, you may apply to the court for a contact order and parental responsibility (in the event that she does not register you as father on the birth certificate). The later will mean that you have the rights and duties towards the child including being involved in the important decision making and being kept informed of milestones. That said, the orders will only be made if you can satisfy the court that it is in the child's best interests.

Good luck in May 2012!


Q. I have been separated from my daughters mother for more than 4 years now. For the first couple of years we had a loose arrangement where by she would stay with me almost or just as much as she would at her
mothers. Then she got married and has since had two kids. For the last couple of years now I have hardly seen my daughter. I have been accused of everything from putting her at risk of abuse to emotional blackmailing. I love my daughter very much and It is very hurtful to have these sorts of accusations thrown at me. This year my daughter has said things to me
like, "my mum say's you lie all the time" or my mum says you're a thief" and the worst "my mum says you don't love me anymore". I have tried to rise above it and made attempts to get her to mediation even had a lawyer send 3 letters asking her to minute an agreement. She refuses to enter into any kind of constructive dialog at all always accusing me of
upsetting things My daughter started to become like a go between, I have often expressed my feelings to her about this and explained that unless we communicate, my daughter will continue to feel obliged. Recently I have had to explain to my daughter that she cannot make plans with me unless her mum agrees it and this has led to a lot of upset and disappointment
with me. She is very confused and My health is suffering, I don't know what to do. I thought that it might be money as since I was made redundant 2 years ago I have been unable to pay school fee's however I always buy my daughter shoes, clothes or anything else she needs. Her room is like a tomb, unused and full of toys and books she has never had the chance to
us, since she's not here very often. I don't know when I'm going to see her again. Can you help?
A. I am sorry to hear about this, clearly your daughter is caught in the middle and confused. You will need to apply to the court for a contact order if your ex will not agree to a lawyer's request for contact.

Without an order, I suspect this refusal to facilitate contact will continue. Whilst it is important to maintain your child, you cannot help being made redundant. Contact does not depend on maintenance otherwise poor fathers would never see their children!


Q. I am the main parent of my son who is 13 and my daughter 11 both lived with me for 2 years as my ex went to Turkey to be with her boyfriend. She came back to the uk and has decided to return to Turkey to
marry and has asked my daughter to go stay. My daughter is headstrong she wants to go and stay with secondry school coming up i want her to do her
schooling here and not to move. What would my rights be. Kind regards Steven
A. Hi there

If there is a disagreement as to where the child should live and in particular whether a child should be permanently relocated to another country, you will need to apply for a court order determining which country is best for your daughter. The court will consider many things including attachments to you, her brother and mother, schooling, contact with the absent parent and sibling etc.

Try to discuss it in mediation and see if your concerns can be addressed. I know that your daughter says she wants to go but at aged 11, how informed is her decision. Try to talk about it and agree out of court. If there is no movement, apply to the court for a prohibited steps order preventing her removal without your permission until the court has investigated this fully. Keep the passports with you and write to the Passport office not to issue any duplicates. If you ever fear that she has taken your daughter without consent, do not hesitate to call the police who may be able to stop her leaving the port.

Good luck.





Q. Hello, I think my ex is going to take my daughter out of the country permenantly before our court hearing for access without my permission? How can I place a stop on my daughters passport to stop this?
A. You need to alert the police immediately about the possibility of issuing a port alert to stop her leaving the country. Also contact the passport office. Please see your solicitors immediately.

Best regards,


Harjit Sarang


Q. Hello. I have a question about my partners' daughter. My partner and I have been in a happy, stable relationship for five years, we have a two year old daughter of our own and are planning on getting married and having another child within the next two years. I get on fantastically well with my nine year old stepdaughter who stays with us every weekend
and comes on family holidays with us (within the country). My partner was very badly abused by his ex during his marriage as she has periods of depression and had more often than once attacked my partner, once in front of their daughter who was then three. We have both been concerned for a long time about her welfare, and recently she has been displaying anxious behaviour when she returns home. Her mother depends on her own parents for a lot of things, one of who has a heart problem and the other is manic depressive. We now feel we'd like to move his daughter to live with us, how would we go about starting this, and what are the chances of this happening? Thank you very much.
A. Hi, thank you for the question

I am sorry to hear about what your Partner has been through. Your Partner's ex has some support from her parents which is good. The first step is always to try and get the facts established. Can your Partner talk to his ex about the concerns? Whether she could do with some support or perhaps tactfully suggest assistance? It may be that with some help and support, the situation is improved without a change in residence. Questions are better than accusations. Mediation is a great way to air issues and agree on changes for the benefit of the child. However, if his ex is not willing to participate in mediation, he cannot force her to.

It is great that their daughter has the option of a home with you but this may not be necessary and it is a big step. I agree that if she is at risk of any harm then residence needs to be considered.

If there is no dialogue and the concerns remain, your ex should instruct his lawyer to write a letter to her setting out the concerns. It may be that this letter prompts some action on her part to deal with the concerns. If they are still not dealt with then he may apply to the court for a Residence Order. His ex may object and the court will need to decide where is best for the child to live. The court will have the assistance of a welfare officer who will investigate concerns and report back to the court with a recommendation.

Try to discuss concerns and if that does not work, instruct lawyers to write a formal letter and consider residence. In all cases of emergency, contact your solicitor without delay.

I hope that the mattter is resolved amicably.

Best Regards
Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
Q. I have had parental control of my 4 children for 5 yrs my youngest was 9mths my ex has called social services about an alligation which was not true,she is refusing to bring them home.
A. I advise that you instruct a solicitor to prepare a response to the allegations for you. It may be that your solicitor advises that you apply to the court for an order that the children be returned to your care immediately. This all depends on the nature of the allegations and more facts about your case.

Please get legal advice immediately.

Good luck.
Best Regards
Q. Hi, I'm married and about to separate with my wife. We have a 4 year old daughter, things are amicable at the moment and we agreed that they stay in the family home while i rent a flat near by. Will my moving out effect my rights at all? many thanks
A. Hi there

Sometimes it is necessary to physically separate to give you both some time and space to think about how you are going to move forward. Particulalry if there is tension in the house that the child may pick up on.

Make it clear that you are only moving out temporarily and that you reserve the right to return as, when and if things change.

Ensure that if you are sharing care for your child that the place you are renting is adequate, safe and close by.

You may want to set a timetable of when you expect things to be sorted out failing which, you will return home.

Agree on expectations regarding resolution of child and financial arranagements.

Best Regards





Q. Hello, My ex wife and i have two young children Our son is 8 and our Daughter is 4 whom both live with me. My ex wife left us almost four years ago and after a terrible court case,mediation and cafcass i was forced to agree upon shared residence of the children with her. This meant she would see them every second Wednesday evening from 3pm to 6pm and
every other weekend from Friday at 3pm through to taking them to School on Monday morning at 9am. Despite my reservations of the length of journey
for getting the children to School that early and the cold weather (our son is prone to winter illnesses) on the Wednesdays i had to accept her preposal. Since my ex finding out that she is not entitled to housing(she was housed and then evicted due to lying about the children and her being thrown out by me) and failing to get the childrens benifits she also put
claim to, my ex has now cut the access of down to simply seeing them every other weekend from 3pm to Sunday 3pm. My ex also does not have to contribute a penny. My question is this. Is my ex in breach of order? as she tells me she is on courses and cannot see them and yet has informed the school that she does not see them during the winter months. Thank you
for your time Regards Neil
A. Dear Neil

Thank you for your question. It sounds as though your ex needs some assistance in trying to organise herself including her finances. There is no meaningful dialogue between you. The fact that she has been evicted and has no security of housing is a major concern. I agree that it is not appropriate for the children to be living with such insecurity and uncertainty. The court will never force a parent to see the child more than they wish to for obvious reasons. I imagine that you have tried to discuss concerns with her and there is no positive outcome. Try to stay focused on what is best for the children. If and when she is capable of seeing them and only if there is no risk of harm to them, facilitate the contact. It may be necessary for you to return to court to vary the order. Is she capable of sharing residence with there being such uncertainty? It is your parental duty to act in the best interests of the children. If that means not facilitating contact until questions are answered and you are given re assurances then she must be advised about that. It may be that a return to court is needed to revise the order and for her to confirm her position. Having the children full time is better than having upset and hurt children some of the time. Ultimately, think about what the children need and what is best for them. It sounds like you are doing a great job so far by asking the right questions.

I know that Bob would like to add to my response.

Hi Neil. I agree with everything Harjit has said. I know from personal experience just how difficult these situations are. One of the messages we offer dads in your position is that every now and again in a child's life, dads really must step up to the plate; this can involve making hard decisions.

Your overriding duty is to look after your children, make decisions for them, and ensure their best interests are being served. If, even for a short while, this means you have full-on care,so be it. It does sound like Mum needs to sort herself out a bit. While she does so, I feel sure you will arrive at a position re contact that is in the best interest of your children.

It sounds like you are doing a great job - well done Neil, and good luck for the future. Bob
Q. hi i've got a 2 year old daughter conceived from a very short relationship the father is drug and alcohol independent and is alway in trouble with the law. when i was pregnant all i asked of him was to clean up his act a bit and we would talk about some short of contact he wasn't willing to reason with me and started getting very nasty with death threats the lot he has had no contact with her at this point. anyway to cut a long story short he now has put in a application to court for parental responsibility and contact i know he is most likely gonna get contact but my solicitor said its very rare if a dna comes back positive that they won't get parental rights but i don't understand how a complete stranger can decided whats best for a child they don't know. its really getting me worried just looking for a second opinion really
A. Hi there

Parental responsibility is now automatic for fathers who are named on the birth certificate. It is the legal right and duty to be involved in the important decision making for the child. Where parental responsibility is not automatic an application may be made to the court. Your solicitor is correct in that the threshold to get this is set low. The child's father would need to demonstrate a commitment to the child which is normally satisfied by the making of an application.

I am sorry to hear that the father has a history of drug abuse. This is not a good sign however, he may have changed and may want an opportunity to change his life. It is very important for you to give all of the information that you have about his past to the court. Relay your concerns as best as you can using your solicitor. The court will then try to address all of those concerns when deciding whether and if so, how much contact he should have with the child. It may be that it needs to start off at a slow pace at a supervised level until he has demonstrated more commitment and reassured all concerned that there are no risks associated. It may work out well and the positive is that your child may have a meaningful relationship with her father.

Upon receiving his application, the court may appoint a welfare officer to report on what is best for her. That officer will contact you to take note of your concerns and discuss the same with the father. She/he will then make some recommendations to the court as to the contact.

I appreciate that the professionals are strangers. However, the role of the court is to hear all sides and make the best decision for your child. The best you can do is make sure that all of the information is before the court so that an informed decision is made.

Good luck


Q. Hi, I am seperated from my wife and we are currently in mediation around the access and care of our 2 children aged 11 & 15. My wife has come up with a suggestion that involves , in essence me seeing my children for 7 out of every 14 days which I have rejected as I do not believe changing homes 3 times a week is right for my children. However my question is from your experience should I be grateful for this offer as if the matter ends up in court I am likely to end up with less time with my children that I originally was offerred
A. Hi there

I am pleased to hear that you are attending mediation to try and resolve this issue amicably. I regret that I cannot answer your question because I do not know the facts of your case and what is best for your children. Whether or not you will get more in court depends on the specific facts of your case including the feeling and wishes of your children one of whom is old enough to vote with his or her feet!

I advise that you continue to discuss your concerns about the frequency of contact in mediation and see if you can be reassured.

Good Luck


Q. Hi there, I wonder if you could give me some advice. My son has been denied contact with his daughter now for 5 months. She is three and half years old and he was looking after her every weekend friday to sunday, as the ex partner told him if he didnt do this he would not see her at all. He has seen a solicitor and a letter has been sent to her for mediation, which she his ex has not replied to. He has had no other
correspondance from his solicitor and it has been 4 months now and has rang several times to be told someone else has taken on his case and she is busy or out of the office. We just want to know what is going to happen next, or what we should be doing if anything. Should we make an appointment to see this new solicitor in person, as at the moment it feels
like we are bothering her or being a nuisance?? We feel so helpless.
A. Hi there

I am sorry to hear about your experience with this solicitor. If you are feeling like a nuisance for contacting her then perhaps you need to look elsewhere for a more approachable and friendly lawyer and there are many out there!

Your son needs to pursue this. If his ex is ignoring letters and refusing mediation, his only option is to apply to the court for a contact order. Delay may impact on his relationship with the child therefore, I advise that you find another solicitor and press on. You may want to write to the ex and notify her of your intentions giving her a final opportunity to co operate with the contact request.

Good luck.


Q. I am separated from my husband due to his violent/drug behaivour. He now has asked me to have access to see our son 2 years old. he has contacted a solicitor in order for him to me to do this. Also he has made threats in the past that he will take my son away from me and I will be the one to request for weekend visit. He lives in one room shared house. Please I need help and what are my right and to protect my son, but I don't have any proof to prove that he is violent and a drug addict and associate with drug dealers.
A. Hi

Bearing in mind your concerns, the age of your child and your ex's history, it is reasonable for you to refuse contact until you have some reassurances from your ex. It may be that he has changed and now has better accommodation? You will only be able to work through this by co operating with him and starting a dialogue beginning with what he wants, how frequently he wants it and then relaying your concerns. Give him the opportunity to respond and then decide how convinced you are. It may be that contact needs to start off supervised until you have some trust built up.

Be strong, confident and trust your instincts. Unless you have those reassurances, you do not need to facilitate contact. If your ex is determined and committed, he will agree to mediate with you and deal with your concerns to the benefit of the child.


Q. I have a daughter aged 6 that lives with her mum(my ex) in the city some 45miles away and with a rural transport system, visits are short and troubled as I only have 4 hours once a week on a sunday afternoon..my first question is. am I able to have my daughter for over night weekend visits? secondly, my ex's parents are insisting on taking my daughter to a
religious event every week which has been against my will from birth. can I stop this?
A. Hi there

Your request seems reasonable. I can only advise that you start a dialogue for increased contact and see what the response is. Try mediation services to assist. If your request is rejected and mediation is refused or does not work, you may apply to the court for contact to be increased. In my view and quite generally as I do not know the facts of your case, unless your ex can show that it is not in your daughter's best interests to spend more time with you, it should be granted.

Regarding the attending of a religious event, I cannot comment without more details but again if mediation fails, you may apply to the court for an order that she not go to the event. You would need to satisfy the court that going to the event is contrary to her best interests. I suspect there would need to be some strong evidence on why she should not attend if there is no other obvious risk of harm. Without more details, it is difficult to advise you.

Please speak to your lawyer to get some more specific advice about this.






Q. I have parental responsibility of my daughter and my ex partner phoned me at 2am saturday morning as she had been told she is going to lose her house due to rent arrears if these wasnt paid by 12 midday on
saturday so I got up and went over to hers with my new partner to see if there was anything I could do, we decided that my daughter would come and stay with me while she got herself sorted out, she has contacted me today and said she wants our daughter back today but still hasnt paid the arrears so im concerned for my daughter if she goes back and my ex partner is denying saying that she had until midday saturday to pay the arrears although she said this to myself, my partner and my brother in law via phone, she has threatened to call the police if i dont take her back today but im really concerned for my daughters welfare.
A. Hi there

I am sorry to hear about that. You have offered to assist to pay the rent which is very good of you. It is concerning that mother should find herself in this position. She may need some external assistance to manage her finances a little better? You could point her in the right direction for help if she is not accepting it from you. Of course, your daughter's safety and welfare is of paramount importance and to that end, I would try to have a discussion with mother about the instablility and risk that the situation exposing your daughter to. Offer that your daughter may reside with you only temporarily until she has managed to sort things out and that contact may take place as and when required. Providing that you have no other concerns, perhaps it is important to emphaise that you are not interested in taking your daughter away from her permamantly but rather, helping her temporarily. If the situation does not improve, you should apply to the court for a residence order which is an order that your daughter live with you. This may be temporary until the housing situation is sorted out.

Good luck.






Q. Hi, Can you assist or direct me to somewhere where I can find more information. All the info. I read is derived from mum and dad divorcing etc and the children being enabled to maintain meaningful
contact. However, I was never with my child's biological father and he only saw him a handful of times when he was very very young. My child is
now 8 years old and lives with me and my fiancee who has been in his life since he was 3. He calls him Dad although knows he is not his biological father. The biological father wants contact, he has had indirect contact for 6 months and will inevatibly be given further contact when we return to court. However, my son really does not want to be forced into this he
is scared of the situation and embarrassed by it as if it is something to be ashamed of almost. He is also very cross that his bio father calls himself Daddy. I am worried they will force too much on him, too
frequently and too soon and do more harm than good.
A. Hi thanks for the question

It is great that your son is communicating all of this to you at this age. You should relay his feelings to the court officer so that contact can be organised in a beneficial way. It may be that your son would benefit from having a chat with somebody about the different adults in his life and the roles that they all play. There are many books that you may wish to purchase and work through with him on this issue. It's important to keep the situation positive. The fact is that he has two fathers. Why shouldn't that work? If there could be some sort of dialogue between you, your Partner and the child's biological father this would assist greatly. Between you, you can make this work for your son. Importantly, don't stop listening to him. It is so important that he continues to be as open with you as he has been. Children pick up on tensions and hosility. If he senses that all three of you get on, it may make him think differently about contact. All decisions need to be centred around what is best for your son.

Good luck.


Q. i am deperated from my ex partner we have a eight month old baby. I have two other children under five from a previous relationship my ex of the baby we never lived together and he is making up lies about me, he seen the baby twice and was not there throughout my pregnancy he is not on the birth certificate and is on bail for kidnap charge. I do not wish him to even see my daughter at a contact centre as I do not trust him at all and although i cannot prove it i know he is on drugs and had councelling in 2009 for a huge debt due to drugs, i have a home my children are happy and well looked after, what to do please
A. Hi

You are right to be reluctant to agree contact at this stage when there are so many unanswered questions and concerns. I presume that your ex has applied for contact with your child? The fact that he is not named on the birth certificate as father means that he does not have parental responsibility for her. Although, he may apply to the court for parental responsibility which may be granted to him depending on his ability to demonstrate a commitment to the child. For some courts making an application for contact is enough. Parental responsibility will not increase his chances of getting contact. The court will need to hear your reasons for objecting to contact such as the reasons that you have given below. An officer will investigate them and then make a decision as to whether contact would be in your daughter's best interests and if so at what level and where. He will be spoken to and he will be given the opportunity to put his case forward. If he is lying, the court has the ability to order drugs tests etc. All you can do is co operate by giving the court all of the information and evidence that you have. An officer of the court will investigate, prepare a report and make some recommendations for the court.

I hope that helps.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. My step-daughters mother is withholding my step-daughters passport to stop us taking her on holiday. We have a shared residence order. She told my step-daughter she doesn't think we would return her
which is not the case. What do we do?
A. Hi there



That is unfortunate. You could try and re assure her that you will return her by giving copies of return tickets and showing some hotel reservations?

If she will not be reassured, you may apply to the court for a specific issues order that the passport be given to you and then held by you. You may also need the court to order to confirm that you have permission to remove the child out of the jurisdiction for a holiday although technically with a residence order, you can do this for up to 4 weeks without. The fact that she is objecting is reason to seek clarification from the court and permission accordingly.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. my 2 children were placed in foster care under the term `emotional abuse` and although I fully accept we were both to blame. I was the victim of long term emotional abuse from a very controlling and manipulative man. I have always been their f/t time carer. A phycology report was ordered on us both and sadly I did not come out as well as my ex (as my head had been so messed up by him) so to cut a long story short because of this both the LA and CAFCASS made their recomendation for the children to live with my ex as the primary carer. I am devastated by this news and need advice as to how I can go about contesting this. This is back in court in June to be re-assessed. My ex works shifts and has a `friend` to step in to be the `carer` whereas Ive always been the f/t mum. I desparately need your help and advice please. KInd Regards
A. Hi

I am so sorry to hear about your situation. You are correct to challenge such an important decision where you feel that it is wrong. I regret that I can only suggest you to instruct a solicitor to represent you and put your case forward. It may be that you want to update the court on your current situation and ensure that your case is put forward in the best way possible. You may need to get an up to date report on yourself in readiness for June if things have changed? Do speak to your solicitor.

Good luck.
Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. This is a bit of a different one. Myself and my ex share custody of my 10 year old boy. He has during the week and I have weekends. I did also have him during the week but my ex moved to far for me to take him to school. I have now moved to where he is living, which now he has decided to move again. can I stop him leggally??
A. Hi there

The first step would always be to try and discuss this with your ex. Explain to him that your priority is maintaining contact with your child and therefore each time he moves, you need to move. On that basis, he should think very carefully before moving and certainly discuss it with you if the end result may mean that the child does not see mother. In the event that there is no discussion or reason, you may seek legal advice about obtaining a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent the move. The court will then consider his reasons for moving, how contact would work and make a decision from there based on what is best for the child. This may mean the child staying with you and having contact with father.

Good luck.


Q. Hi, Harjit. Thanks for taking the time to offer your advice. I have a son who is three and a half years old. My ex-partner and I lived together for the first 2 years of our son's life, where I was my son's main carer for those 2 years and I established a significant relationship with my son. Then my childs mother and I moved into seperate homes and began to have him half the week each, so we had him an equal amount. I am a child care practitioner and my son was registered full-time at the nursery I work in. This has been the situation for a year and a half now
and my son was very happy in his deep-rooted care routine. On 11/01/2012 I recieved a text saying my son won't be coming back to mine again and the next time I see him will be decided by a court. My son's mother has put him in a new nursery setting and won't tell me where it is. Since then I have attempted to negotiate with my son's mother, tried to mediate through family members, attempted to collect my son many times
A. Hello

I'm sorry to hear that contact has broken down. Your question reads as though you do not know why this has happened and that your ex is refusing to communicate with you about it. Has she made any specific allegations that you can address? Have you tried a more formal mediation setting rather than through family members? I'm sure you may have tried writing a letter or e-mail already. I suggest that the next step is a more formal approach through your solicitor if only to get a reason for this sudden change. If she fails to communicate with your solicitor, the only other option is to make an application to the court for a contact order. A court officer will be appointed to investigate any allegations and then make a recommendation to the court as to what contact will be better for your son. The court may also deal with which nursery he should go to if there is a dispute. Whatever decision the court makes shall be based on what is in the best interests of your son. I hope that you get to the bottom if this. Good luck.






Q. Hi there a family member has recently received a a letter from court from his ex parnter regarding there daughter she has filed a prohibited steps order and a residence order with the courts. The child was staying over every weekend till this point. the childs mother has sent the child over poorly with a very sore bottom smelling of foist and there is genuine concern for, the mother has threatened to put her up for adoption and even threatened to punch her for not going to sleep this child is 16 month and the family are worried as these cases tend to drag in court and she is greatly missed already. any advice would be great.






A. Hello

I am so sorry to read this. My advice must be for you to immediately report any concerns of safety to social services and your solicitors. Whilst the child is in your care, if you have any concerns, take her to the GP to be checked over. If the mother is struggling to cope with her daughter, she needs assistance. Presumably, there is no dialogue between you which does not assist otherwise, you may be able to help her. Putting the child's saftey and best interests at the forefront of you mind, you must report any concerns to social services and if ever you feel that the child is at risk of harm with mother, get immediate legal advice. You will know that parenting young children is not easy. There may be a reason for mother behaving towards her child in this way. Of course it is never acceptable but it is important that the appropriate qualified professional work with mother to find out the cause and offer assistance to mother where possible.

As regards contact with this family member, a contact order may be applied for at your local county court. Following investigations into whether the contact is in the child's best interests, an order may be granted. It assists that mother has already applied to the court.










Q. Dear Harjit
I am am very worried about my sons safey in the
hands of my ex partners she has fall custody of him and i have my son every other weekend but the weekend she does have my son she still wants to go out with her friends and the person she has baby sit my son when she goes out has had here kids took of her by social services and when she has my son she has partys at her flat till late hours in morning and my son is a wake running about till early hours i am very worried and would like to no the best thing i can do and is there any way i can get a court order to get custody of my son because ive tried talking to my ex and she doent seem to take note and keeps letting the lady babysit my son so im left worried for her safety




A. Hi there

I am sorry to hear that. You say that she is not listening to you. You should ask your solicitor to write a formal letter with your concerns and ask that she deal with them immediately. If it happens again, you may apply to the court for an order. When you say 'custody' I assume you mean that you want an order for him to live with you. This is a 'Residence Order'. The court will need to assess whether it is in your son's best interests to live with you permanently. However, a residence order may not fix this issue because your ex will still have contact with your son. Also, for the child to change residence is quite a big thing and will need investigations that may take time. You may wish to apply to the court for an order preventing her doing something that puts the child at risk of harm such as using this particular babysitter. Alternatively, you may suggest that if she wants to go out, she let your son stay with you at the weekend?

Do get legal advice.


Q. I am waiting for a phone call from cafcass what will they ask me?
A. Hi there

If it is the first time they are calling you, it is probably to arrange a meeting with you to discuss the court application. The first meeting will simply be to get a view from you about the disagreement and ways in which the case can be resolved. If the case is not near a resolution, the officer will need to investigate the issues. Her report will cover basic things such as whether the child(rens) best interests are being met, deal with allegations and report any recommendations to the court.

Don't be afraid, co operate as best as you can.






Q. Hi My son has recently become a police officer and gave his ex partner a list of his shifts for the full year, to which she sent him a sheet of paper with days and dates as to when he must have the girls
(Tues/Thurs for tea and alternate weekends and overnight if not working the next day). He has followed this to the best of his abbility, only having to cancel on maybe two occassions and recently when he was attending college and not home until weekends my husband and I had the kids over for tea every Tues/Thurs. His ex is now taking him to court to get a contact order as she says she wants him to have them on the same specific days and overnight regardless of whether he is working or not. My
husband and I both work full time so are not available either through the day. Please advise. Thankyou




A. Congratulations on your son becoming a police officer.

It is unfortunate that an application has been issued in this case. I see that your son needs to work. I don't think he is being unreasonable. He has a new role and does not have much flexibility when deciding shift patterns. Equally, I do not know what the mother does for a living but she may also have childcare and work issues that make being flexible difficult. Mediation would have been a good opportunity to talk through some dates that perhaps need to change after maybe a 4 weeks cycle. They need to work together to make contact work. If your son is not free for contact, you may have the children but it may not always be possible. It will be difficult for the court to make an order defining contact. It may be that the contact schedule must be revised frequently to fit around shifts. It does not asset if contact is cancelled because that upsets the children and in unfair on mother who may have made plans around the contact. Try to agree a meeting whenever the shift information is released and stick to it. If it's planned well in advance, there is no excuse for cancellation.

I hope that helps.






Q. Hi, I know this is a site for dads, but hope you can help a Mother's query. I have recenty split from our baby's father (we were not married), he has moved out, throughout the relationship I have been the
main provider (financially, etc) for our son, however I still want my ex to have fair access/contact with our child, my only problem is I am so frightened that he will decide to keep our baby and not return him to me, I have sought advice from a solicitor and they have advised to apply for a residence order and in the meantime only offer limited contact time - with
me being present at those contacts, the only problem is, my ex says he finds this difficult and uncomfortable (due to the animosity we have for
each other) and says this arrangement does not allow him quality time with our child, he is demanding that he be allowed his fair share of time (on
his own) with our child i.e. 3 days per week - I am okay with the days he wants, but it is the fear that he may decide to keep our baby, that is preventing me
A. Hi there

I understand your concerns and just want to say well done to you for accepting your ex-'s role in this. Your child has the right to maintain a relationship with both parents unless at risk of harm. Your ex is right, it cannot be easy having contact with somebody being present. Your solicitor is also correct, a residence order will give you security. The first step is to speak to your ex and tell him what your concerns are. It may be that he gives you the reassurances about returning the child. You may want to give him the benefit of the doubt? If he does fail to return the child, you may apply for an urgent order from the court on the day although I accept this will be upsetting. Speak to him first and then apply for an order if you are not reassured. The court will only make an order if it's necessary therefore asking is important.

good luck

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. Dear Harjit Sarang My ex and I split up when my daughter was 3 months old in 2008 (she is now 3) and we came to agreements about contact In November 2010 we went to court over my ex having a new partner and basically lying about every details of her life. He seemed to be oblivious but his own family were approaching me with their concerns about this girl he'd met online. Anyway, he lied in court and as a result was ordered to make an undertaking to the court not to introduce new partners to my daughter without my or the courts consent. (he'd already introduced her to three others before the last one I mentioned). We also agreed contact times and these were recorded in the court papers. Anyway he has again met the love of his life and wishes to introduce my daughter to her I am genuinely very happy for him but he's only been seeing her a month! This seems too soon for it to be a solid, stable relationship and I've asked him to atleast give it another month before he does. He's refusing so now I am unsure what to do.
A. Hi there

You have a court order dealing with 'introducing new partners'. You should ask your solicitor to write to him with a copy of the order reminding him of his obligations. If he refuses, you can apply to the court to enforce the order. You should seek legal advice from the lawyer who helped you obtain this order.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. my son's x partner is taking his daughter to live back in poland even though she was born in the uk does he have to pay csa if she leaves the country
A. No
Q. Dear Harjit Sarang, I am actually in France were a court order has been issued which give me rights to visit and have my little daughter with me on holidays. I am also holding shared parental authority and the
little girl was born in France But when i am resquesting informations from the nursery, they won't give them to me as i am not on the contract. At
the time my daughter has been listed at the nursery her mother avoided to put me down on the contract even if at that time i was holding shared parental responsibility since our daughter was born as i am on the birth certificate. Does the mother has the right not to put me down on the contract when she applied at the nursery? Can the nursery refuse to give
me informations even if my name appears on the BC and even with the court order saying that i hold PR? I am actually requesting from the court in france an enforcement with an annexeIII under the 23rd November 2003 BruxellesII regulation. Thank you in advance for your answers.
A. Hi there

That is really disappointing to hear however, many small nurserys do not have proper legal advice on this issue before creating their policies. I advise that you write to the nursery asking for them to set out there legal position in refusing to give you information. That may prompt them to see their lawyers and get this dealt with.

Good Luck!


Q. Hello, I am now a single father with parental responsibility, me and my partner split up 5 weeks after the birth of our daughter as we were
arguing and fighting all the time, we both agreed a short term break was necessary as this kind of behaviour was inappropriate for a new born baby to witness such altercations. The mother of my daughter decided to live with her parents taking the baby with her, after two days we had come to agreement of visiting days for me to see my daughter, however after one week of this schedule my partners mother had intervened and told me I have no interests of the child and I wasn't to see her no more. I have had no
contact or any form of communication with them since, I made an appointment with my solicitor and a letter of co-operation was addressed to my partner.




A. Hello

I am sorry to hear that but it sounds like you have done the right thing which is to contact your solicitor. The first thing is to try and discuss it with the mother of your child. If she will not communicate with you, you should apply to the court for a contact order. Providing that there are no risks of harm, contact should be ordered in your favour. This may be a long process if allegations are made because a court appointed officer will need to investigate allegations. However, your daughter needs you to pursue this as much as you can. If money is an issue please don't hesitate to act in person and refer to myself or Bob for help as you go along the court process. You can do this and I wish you the best of luck to see your daughter as much as is good for her!

Best Regards
Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. My partner is currently dealing with the csa for a claim that his ex made. we have the children every weekend aprt from 1 a month due to work commitments we feed them, clothe them, provide toys for and take them on holiday. we have a child of our own that I receive child tax credits for. We have been informed today that these child tax credits can be taken into account when calculating the csa payments. Is this true and how can that possibly be right that money I get paid for our daughter can bgiven to my partners ex to look after children that she is already claimimg tax

A. Hi there

This all depends on whether you are married and who receives the tax credits. You will need to discuss your case with the Child Support Agency I'm afraid.

Best Regards
Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. Can I stop all access to my children during and after my ex husband serves his current conviction and imprisonment?

A. Hi

You have a duty to protect your child and therefore, if you feel that contact is not in your child's best interests, you may choose not to facilitate it. Particularly if you are satisfied that there is a risk of harm. If your ex wants to have contact, he may apply to the court for a contact order and the court would decide whether contact was in the child's best interests or not. The reasons for his incarceration would be taken into account.

I hope that helps.

Best Regards
Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP






Q. I am a single father with parental responsibility. My daughter is 4 my son is 1. My ex was having an affair. My daughter has Cancer and i want to see her and my son more than i am! I see them wednesdays and every other weekend! My ex wont let me speak to my daughter on the phone the
days she wont let me see them, she tells me it is a waist of time phoning and if i turn up at the property she and her partner will call the police! I have not been aggressive or raised a hand to her in the years we were
together and there is no court order or anything telling when i can and cant see them. All i would like is more time with them both but she will not agree to it as it means she wil get less CSA Payments!The CSA will nor listen to me and are telling "this is what mom wants" ! I do not qualify
for legal aid and i cant afford the cost all on my own! Please Help

A. Hi

I am so sorry to hear read about this. It must be a difficult time for both of you and you each want to spend as much quality time with your children as possible. Clearly mediation is not going to be an option because your ex is resistant for reasons unknown. My advice is to apply to the court for a contact order as soon as possible. If you do not qualify for legal aid, you may be able to act yourself and use a McKenzie Friend in court to assist you (please speak to Bob about this). If the court is satisfied that it is in your children's best interests to spend more time with you, a contact order should be made. It may take time to investigate this but orders relating to children should be made following investigations to ensure that they are indeed the best for the children. From what you have said, I can see no reason why your request should be refused. Good luck!

Best Regards
Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. I am a single father with parental responsibility but my daughters mum is getting married how will this effect my rights when my daughter gets a step dad

A. Hi there

Your daughter's step dad does not automatically acquire parental responsibility for your daughter as a result of marrying her mother.

Your rights remain the same.

Hopefully, the relationship between you is amicable such that you can continue to parent for the benefit of your daughter.

Happy New Year.

Best Regards
Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP






Q. Hi my eldest son is 14 on the 9th Jan and his mum took him to live in New Zealand 5/6yrs ago, he now wants to come live with me, I currently work in Sri Lanka and live here, where would I stand in getting my son to live with me

A. Hi there

Your son has been in New Zealand for 5/6 years and is at an important stage in his life with schooling etc. Have you spoken to your ex about how your son feels? Is it likely to be a contested application. Court proceedings are likely to be very costly particularly because your son is in New Zealand. May I suggest that the first step is to mediate with your ex and try to agree this matter. It may be that an agreement can be reached without the need for court proceedings.

I hope that helps, it is always better to reach an amicable agreement first particularly in this situation where he has lived elsewhere for so long. You will also need to consider how you will care for your son if you work in Sri Lanka and live here. What are your plans and what will your plans be to care for your son?

Best Regards
Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. Last year I paid for my 11 year olds passport so I could take him on holiday. I want the passport to stay with me so I can take him away this year but his mum said she should have it as she's his main carer. im
worried if i hand it over she'll make it difficult for me to get it back to take him away again. Thank you






A. Hi there

It is fair to say that the passport is normally retained by the main carer. If your ex is difficult about your taking him away, you would not be able to take him even if you did have the passport. Your ex must consent to you taking the child abroad unless you have an order from the court.

My advice is that you try and talk to each other reasonably and plan holidays much in advance to give you time to reach an agreement. Holding or paying for a passport will not really assist. If she refuses to co operate, you may want a solicitor’s letter to ask her for permission formally.

Best Regards
Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. The father to my child is on the birth certificate and we can not get on with each other he has contact with his son every two weeks I went though domestic violence which I can not say the whole story. I wanted advice on the fact I don't know where he lives and he won't tell me either. Our son has really bad allergies and gets ill so often i just wanted to know where abouts he lived so I knew the nearest hospital. Plus I also need to know my child is safe. Also his status is not know. Plus if he doesn't have any status in the uk does he have rights to apply for my child's passport? This is my concern I don not know what to do.






A. Hi there

I am sorry to hear this. You should certainly know where your child is for emergency contact details and this would not be an unreasonable request by you. If your ex has a history of violence then you may already have assessed whether there is any risk to the child. If you do not know your ex’s immigration status, how do you know whether or not he will try to remove the child from the country? I know that sometimes it can be difficult to say no to people that we are afraid of and it may be that you need some support in order to make the right decision for your child if only to assess whether there are any risks. Try to contact your lawyer for assistance if your ex will not answer reasonable questions such as where he lives and where the child is likely to be. You should at least have a number?

As for the passport, please contact the passport office for advice.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. My daughter has been dropped off on my doorstep, as her mother can not cope with her anymore. There is no issue with her living with me, I just need advice about what i need to do about custody, CSA and
Schooling. My daughter is nearly 16, in her last year at school and recently had to move schools due to bullying. I need some guidance on what to do next?

A. Hi

I’m sorry to hear about this situation. As regards custody, you don’t need a ‘residence order’ unless there is a dispute about where your daughter should live. It sounds like her mother wants her to live with you therefore no order is necessary. As regards bulling, try to speak to your daughter and get some help about how to cope with/deal with this. There is so much help on the internet and the GP may also be able to steer you in the right direction. It is important for your daughter not to feel abandoned and to feel secure that you will look after her and get her all the help that she needs. It is such an important time in her life and you may wish to speak to the new school too.

Child support will not be payable by you if your daughter now lives with you.

I hope that your daughter finds her way and perhaps with you, it’s a fresh start. Good luck.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. Hi, and thanks in advance, what are my rights as primary carer to a 5 year old boy and as his biological father in regard to his future and
contact with me? this my seem a strange question however, even as primary carer as put forward for the best interest of future care of my son by social services, I find that my weekend/contact has been limited to 1 wkd in 4 and the way the rota works means that for the quality time as defined by the court at the time of the order and with s/services advise I get
less than 25% of the quality time available. To say I am not happy with this is an understatement of emense proportion. In short I was given primary care because of issues with care by my ex partner and the judge felt this was the best solution? I can not figure out how, if care was not surficiant for school hours then how can it be ok for uncontrolled contact?? Please respond as best you can. with thanks,








A. Hi

I regret that I can only advise that you speak to your lawyer about the reasons for limited contact. If you feel that the Judge has been unfair or some evidence has been overlooked, your lawyer may be able to do something about this such as negotiate a change with social services.

Good luck.

Best Regards


Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. Hi,I have a daughter aged 6yrs and a my boy is 4yrs. My ex wife and I have an agreement made outside of the courts that I have our children every other weekend (fri- Mon) and then 3 weeks of the year during school holidays. We live 30mins drive from each other. I pay her the full maintenance as worked out on the CSA website, but it does not go directly through the CSA. My ex wife does not work, I work full time. She
is now requesting that we go for 50/50 care,(2 weeks on, 2 weeks off)as she can not cope. She is making threats to take me to court to agree to this or she will place them in care. Do you have any useful research recomendations that provides balanced information on the impact this 50/50 arrangement has on children? Can she take me to court to make me agree to this? Can we agree to 50/50 out of court? Will she still recive full maintenance payments from me? what would happen to child support payments if we went 50/50? Please advise I am unsure on where to turn next.








Hi,I have a daughter aged 6yrs and a my boy is 4yrs. My ex wife
> and I have an agrrement made outside of the courts that I have our
> children every other weekend (fri- Mon) and then 3 weeks of the year
> during school holidays. We live 30mins drive from each other. I pay her
> the full maintenance as worked out on the CSA website, but it does not go
> directly through the CSA. My ex wife does not work, I work full time. She
> is now requesting that we go for 50/50 care,(2 weeks on, 2 weeks off)as
> she can not cope. She is making threats to take me to court to agree to
> this or she will place them in care. Do you have any useful research
> recomendations that provides balanced information on the impact this 50/50
> arrangement has on children? Can she take me to court to make me agree to
> this? Can we agree to 50/50 out of court? Will she still recive full
> maintenance payments from me? what would happen to child support payments
> if we went 50/50? Please advise I am unsure on where to!
> turn next.


Hi,I have a daughter aged 6yrs and a my boy is 4yrs. My ex wife
> and I have an agrrement made outside of the courts that I have our
> children every other weekend (fri- Mon) and then 3 weeks of the year
> during school holidays. We live 30mins drive from each other. I pay her
> the full maintenance as worked out on the CSA website, but it does not go
> directly through the CSA. My ex wife does not work, I work full time. She
> is now requesting that we go for 50/50 care,(2 weeks on, 2 weeks off)as
> she can not cope. She is making threats to take me to court to agree to
> this or she will place them in care. Do you have any useful research
> recomendations that provides balanced information on the impact this 50/50
> arrangement has on children? Can she take me to court to make me agree to
> this? Can we agree to 50/50 out of court? Will she still recive full
> maintenance payments from me? what would happen to child support payments
> if we went 50/50? Please advise I am unsure on where to!
> turn next.






A. Hi

I am sorry to hear that your ex wife is not coping and it is important to give her credit for acknowledging that she cannot cope. This could not have been easy. Firstly, you as parent must assess what is best for the children and how you can improve the situation to benefit them. Try to have a reasonable discussion with your ex to agree something that works for you as a family. This need not be shared care, it could be some other assistance i.e. midweek contact. How do you feel that it will impact upon them having ‘shared care’? Will it work logistically in terms of schooling, your work etc. Ultimately, is it putting them in a better situation than they are in at the moment? You know your children better than anybody and therefore you should assess what situation works better for them. If your ex is desperate enough to suggest ‘care’ then it is reasonable to assume that the children are better spending more time with you. Do find out why your ex is struggling first, because you may be able to suggest ways for her to cope. The court will make a decision based on what is best for the children. Essentially, if she tells the court that she does not want the children, that only leaves you or a third party...

As for financial repercussions, your payments are tapered depending on how many nights the children stay with you. You should also speak to somebody about child benefits.

I hope that helps. The first step is to work out what would be better for the children.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. My ex partner (we split a year ago) and I wasn't in a position finacially to care for our son he currently has custody of ourson. What can I do to get custody?






A. Hi

By custody you mean that you want your son living with you. When you say that you were not in a financial position to care for him, do you mean ’legal fees’? Do always explore the availability of legal funding by seeing a legal aid lawyer. Whether or not your son lives with you should not be based solely on your financial capability. Although, it is essential that you can meet his needs by providing safety, housing, food, clothing etc. Do make an appointment to see your solicitor for advice about a Residence order and legal funding. A residence order can be granted to you if the court is satisfied that it is in your son’s best interests to live with you. The decision will be based on many factors that will be investigated by a court officer. Ultimately, the court will do whatever it can to make sure that the decision is the correct one for your son.

Good luck.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. hi, we have a shared residency in which it states school holidays to b shared and special occasions to be shared my ex had christmas last year n now he has walked into the school on friday took him an hour early without consulting me, i turn up at 3 15 to pick him up to b told he isnt there, and i wont b aloud him till christmas night, help please

A. Hi

I am sorry to hear that your ex is not complying with the court order and is removing your son without consulting you. Could he have made a mistake? Do you communicate at all? Can you contact him to find out why he has taken this step? As for not getting him until Christmas night, I am not informed what the agreement would have been. It is not unusual to alternate Christmas every year. The fact that you are getting him on Christmas day is good because normally alternating leads to contact the following day. I advise that you try and discuss this. If he is not around, you may try your lawyer or even his solicitor. Try to keep calm and ask yourself how your son is. Is he content, how will a disagreement impact upon him during this holiday time. If you are only losing a few hours, perhaps leave it to after Christmas to discuss. If you are losing more time, try to open up a dialogue with him to find out what is going on. My advice is to consider what action is appropriate based on what reaction you may get and the impact on your son. Clearly, this needs to be addressed so that it doesn’t happen again but you need to decide when and how such that your son is not hurt in the process. Long term if possible, it is always best to try and get on with your ex to make such decisions easier and to get reactions that you want.

I do hope that you enjoy Christmas night with your son.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. My daughter was diagnosed with OCD in November last year when her father split up from his girlfriend and my 7 year old daughter lost all contact with her step family - her dad stopped seeing her too! She was referred to CAMHS and has been having CBT since. In November this year her best friend announced she was moving 3 hours away, this sent
her OCD into turmoil again and she stopped eating all together and was urgenty put onto meal replacements to get her calorie intake as she became convinced that swallowing food would cause her harm. CAMHS have confirmed that it is separation and loss that triggers her OCD and now we try as hard as we can to shelter her from anything that may affect her while we are still tackling her eating problems.

In the meantime while all this is going on my partner is in court for a contact order with his daughter as his ex constantly revokes access and threatens to stop him seeing his daughter. This obviously has a terrible effect on her as her mum doesnt shelter her from these threats but this also threatens to affect my daughter's OCD when she does carry out these threats. She has also just announced that in August next year she is moving 3 hours away also which has sent us into turmoil trying to keep this from my daughter. We have his daughter every other weekend friday to monday which is great as even when they move away we can carry on this access, the only change will be that we will return her on a sunday night instead of taking her to
school on a monday morning.

However the court for some reason have granted the contact order but for 4pm fri-4pm sunday in week 1 and then 4pm sunday to monday morning in week 2. which means my daughter will get used to seeing my partner's daughter every weekend and then this will be taken away from
her next year when they move which worries us. The fri-mon access was also ideal because my partners ex has a volatile temper and both him and myself have been verbally abused in the street by her infront of my daughter which has scared and upset her and made her symptoms
worse, she now doesnt want to go anywhere near her which is
understandable, therefore fri-mon meant no contact whatsoever with his ex and my daughter wasnt exposed to any of the arguments. The court have now ordered that he or I must pick up and drop his daughter off at the mothers address with no exceptions - this was ordered even though i wasnt allowed to be present in the court, i wont allow my
daughter anywhere near his ex because of the abuse received (i also received a torrent of threats from her by email and text last year that only stopped after legal intervention). We need to know what to do, my partner wasnt allowed to talk during the court hearing he wasnt
allowed to explain about my daughter's OCD or the affect that his ex has had on her recovery and treatment, yet an order has been put in place that will and is having a negative affect on my daughter and takes away any control we have over protecting her from the upset, verbal abuse and upheaval that changes in arrangements have on her. We
simply dont know what to do, can we appeal the contact order of one child because of the health implications it is having on the other?

Surely this breaches my human rights as both i and my daughter are affected by this order?

Sorry this email is so long! Help please

A. Dear Karen

I am so sorry to hear about this. It is so frustrating when orders are made for the benefit of a child without fully considering all of the risk factors. I am surprised that the court / cafcass did not review the medical evidence from you, your Partner, a GP or psychiatrist. Karen, whilst we cannot advise you to breach a court order, what we can say is that it is your duty to protect your daughter. If you believe that the order is incorrect and contrary to your daughter’s best interests, you need to seek legal advice to vary the order. With your application to vary, I advise that you submit as much evidence of your daughter’s condition as possible and file some statements. If a cafcass officer has already been appointed, you may also wish to discuss this with them.

I do hope it all works out for the benefit of your daughter. Perhaps also try to explore ways of communicating ideas to your ex on how your daughter’s condition should be managed. Tactful advice always goes down better than accusations and criticism.

Good luck Karen.

Best Regards







Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law



BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. hi. i am in the middle of a separation with my girlfriend, she has moved to Portugal with the kids. I had a holiday booked for all of us to go to South Africa in February, I was going to propose to her. She will no longer be going on this holiday I have spent thousands on. I need to
get away and clear my head from all this. Can I take my kids with me? i know that is I ask her. she will say "NEVER". I need some advice please?

A. Hi there

I regret that the short answer is No. I’m not sure how old your children are or whether you have parental responsibility but in any event, I assume that you don’t have a Residence order for the children. Without a residence order and without consent from your ex, you cannot remove the children from the jurisdiction without a court order. To do so would be child abduction. I advise that you try asking your ex again and offer security that you will return the children by showing return tickets etc. If she still denies you, perhaps a letter from a solicitor may help? Last attempt, apply to the court for permission to take them (specific issues Order).

Hope that helps.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law


Q. I have full custody of my 4yr old son, his mother handed him over to me when he was 6 months old, she sees him 3 times a yr, a wk at easter 2 wks in the summer and a wk a xmas, she doesn't make any contact in between visits to see how my son is, now she is taking me back to court for more access but says I have to fund the travelling costs, she lives
365 miles away from us, I also feel it's to far for my son to travel she should be made to travel to him, her family are herion users and she doesn't stick to court orders, can you advise please?

A. Hi there

It is a positive step that your ex is wanting to have more contact with your son. If he is enjoying the existing contact then, he may be very pleased about this. Your son has the right to maintain a relationship with both parents as much as he can unless doing so puts him at risk of harm. This can sometimes be difficult in terms of logistics especially when parents live so far apart. It is disappointing to hear that mother does not make enquiries about him when she is not having contact (not sure why that is?) , that may be difficult for your son especially as he sees her so infrequently. At this age he is capable of speaking to her on the phone. I do note your comment about her family being heroine users and I am assuming that you have thought about this risk and it has been dealt with appropriately before the ordered for overnight contact. If you have any doubts over his safety, you owe a duty to him to protect him from those risks. If you accept that your son is benefitting from the current contact and is not at risk of harm then, I suggest the following :

Contact – if your son is enjoying the current contact, you should both talk about extending it and perhaps having indirect contact when he does not see his mother so that the relationship is enduring.

Travelling – It is not unusual for the court to order that the journey be shared. You may make submissions if she moved away from you and therefore, put herself in that position?

Not sticking to orders – If contact to date has not been complied with, you may want to seek a defined contact order specifically listing dates and times including any phone calls. Children need stability and at this age, should not be disappointed and let down frequently.

Hope that helps

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law



BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. If a father has a contact order and mother has residency who has more parental responsibility or is it 50/50 pr?

A. Hi

Good question. Answer -parental responsibility remains shared except that a parent with a residence order may remove the child from the country for up to a month without seeking the other parent’s permission unless there is a court order saying otherwise.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law


Q. Hello, my husband threw me out of my matrimonial home at 6months pregnant. He then sent a letter 7 days later from his solicitor to say I should not contact him in anyway or come near his property. He has contact with my midwife requesting that she calls him when I go into labour. He always said he didnt want to be there for the birth so this is news to me. Would this be his solicitor telling him to be there for the birth so court favours him for custody?

A. Hi there

I am sorry to hear about this situation. It is your decision who should be there at the birth. His attendance will make no difference to his application for residence of the child or contact with the child. Those decisions are based on what is in the best interests of the child.

Hope that helps. Don’t be bullied into anything. You need to look after yourself and eliminate anything around you that is causing stress. Let your midwife know how you feel.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. Can you tell me if there is a legal problem with my partner's daughter sharing a room with his ex's new man? I thought there was a law governing children sharing a room with males who are not related...






A. Hi there

Do you mean illegal or inappropriate? It may be inappropriate depending on how old the child is and what are the sleeping arrangements etc. It may be perfectly innocent but it is for your partner to consider all of the circumstances and investigate accordingly. The starting point is to find out the facts and then try to discuss arising concerns amicably.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. Hi, I have a question. my partner were abducted my child without my permission and took her with him to Poland. This happened on Friday at 11 am, he left a key with our friends, then traveled with my doughter and his parents to Poland by car - crossing Dover. I called the police and gave evidence .. He calls me every day and asks me to clears him up of the
allegations, also hi says that if I call police and take everything back.
> clear him from allegations , he give me my daughter back ... Please help
> me! I call for lawyers but no one calls me back!I Must submit a check in
> the orchard in the Uk if you want to see a daughter, I can not afford a
> lawyer ... whether there is the possibility of getting a lawyer from the
> orchard? I wanted to add that my father Julia (my daughter) set about the
> house all of our savings Including TV, laptop, camera, paperwork and my
> passport also! Do i have to contact family court? how i can do this?
> Should and what first? Justin



A. Hi

I am sorry to hear about what you are going through. Are you entitled to legal aid? You need to make an appointment with your solicitors urgently. You should also inform the police about the threats and allow them to liaise with the father to return the child. Do not give in to threats and unreasonable demands. Do seek help immediately.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP






Q. Hi I have failed legal aid due to tax credits that I had started to recieve but should normally qualify as I work part time (16hrs) per week but am currently off with drepression. My husband has tricked me out of the marital home of which I jointly mortgaged and my 3 children remain with him against my wishes. I have been extremely stressed at not being with my children and away from my home and have been unable to get any legal advice. My husband has interim residancy and although a contact order is in place until January, his solicitor has said I cannot see the children due to an incident of criminal damage at the weekend. He earns £71,000 and I earn £6,000. He sold my car straight away and stopped our joint account, leaving me with £500 wages and Child benefit to live on. He has since stopped the CHB so that I will be unable to get tax credits and Housing benefit. He is putting me in a situation where I am not best placed to have my children in an attempt to hurt me and I have no way to defend.
A. Hi there

I am sorry to hear about this. Now that you are not getting tax credits, do make an appointment to see your solicitor asap for another legal aid test. The sooner you are funded and getting legal advice the better. This must be a difficult situation for you to deal with if you are unwell. Please try to get some information from your GP about how to cope deal with all of this. When you are in a better position to deal with this, hopefully you will be in a position to see your children again. It is not wrong for contact to be terminated if there is an allegation of criminal damage. The children must be protected from the risk of harm. I’m sorry that I cannot offer any further advice at this stage.

Best Regards
Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. Hi there I live with my partner and our 2 and a half year old. She has always suffered mental health problems and depression due to a tough childhood. She is back on anti depression medication and is becoming very difficult to live with. I have a lot of concerns, she sometimes suggests that she's leaving, I'm concerned she'd take our little boy, as I don't think she'd manage, she has trouble coping with him now whilst I'm at work. If I became a single father, what support is there, would I have to give up work, house mortgage etc....? What legal right do I have to stop her leaving with him, if I think it not in his interest? Thanks Dan

A. Hi Dan

I am sorry to hear about your situation. If you are named on the birth certificate as father, you share parental responsibility for your son. You are under an obligation to protect your son and ensure that his best interests are met as much as possible. If your Partner is struggling with things that are outside of her control, perhaps you should speak to your family GP and get some advice on how you can help her manage the situation and also, how you can cope yourself. This need not be something that results in your Partner continuing to struggle and eventually leaving home taking the child with her. It needn’t be a conflict between you and her. If the issue is a form of depression, in most cases help can be given and the situation managed. It cannot be easy for your Partner who may also be struggling with things that she cannot control.

If your Partner does leave, you should arrange contact regularly so that you can keep an eye on how your son is doing. If contact is rejected, you may apply to the court. If you want full care (residence) for your son, you will need to think about facilitating contact between your Partner and your son to maintain their relationship providing that your son is not at risk of harm.

As for being a single father, see all of the articles on OnlyDads, there is a world of support out there for you!

First and foremost, try and get some help for all of you as a family unit.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. Dear Joy,
I divorced my wife two years ago for unreasonable behaviour. Since then I have been arrested and accussed of Assult, Burglary & Theft, Rape and sexually abusing my four year old. All of which has been investigated by the police and social service and found to be lies by the mother. In Court yesterday she even accussed by partner of watching me have sexual contact with my child. I have not seen my little girl now for 14 weeks and yesterday the court ordered a full trial and that I was to maintain contact with my daughter through a contact centre. But I cant do that. I am scared that my ex will accusing me of something else. Should I wait for the final trial that in February 2012. I have removed all my daughters pictures from the walls as it hurts to much.
Thanks You Trevor
A. Dear Trevor

Contact is the right of the child and you must act in her best interests. To that end, if you feel that she would benefit from seeing you and bearing in mind that the court has ordered that contact continue in the contact centre, there is no reason why she should not see you. To avoid allegations you can make sure that a member of staff is always around with you during the contact. Not ideal but, at least you have contact without the fear of allegations.

Hope that helps

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP






Q. Hi harjit I am currently seperated from my wife and I secured a court order for access to my 3 children at weekends and holidays. The problem I have is my wife lives 130 miles away and I don't drive. She refuses to let me take 1 or 2 of them out for the day or an event and stipulates "your only having all 3 or nothing". This has been the situation for 6 weeks now and I am wondering where I stand in regards to the order etc? Thanks Garren meredith

A. Hi Garren

If you are having difficulties travelling with all three children from a safety point of view, you are correct to raise this with your ex and try to get a variation to the terms of the order. Try and explain your reasons to her and reach an amicable solution using mediation. If she is unwilling to compromise or even listen to you, I would return to your solicitor and explain your reasons for wanting a change to the order. Ultimately, the safety and well being of the children comes first. Your solicitor may be instructed by you to write a formal letter setting out your new proposal. If she still refuses a reasonable request, you may wish to return to court.

I hope that helps.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. My daughter texted me today three times, asking for help. She lives 5 days with your mum. She is 6, and has two older sisters and an older brother(I am not their father). Her brother who is 13 bullies her, I think he is jealous of the me. I pay maintenance and many other things for my daughter including karate, drama(left this recently, school dinners, lots of clothes, toys, holidays and trips away. I do not get on with her
mum. Recently she has started seeing a new man who has 3 children and my daughter told me this weekend that she has had to share her bed with his daughter who is 9. I am very worried and want to do something. Damien

A. Hi Damien

It’s great to hear that you are such a dedicated father. This cannot be easy for you. It’s difficult for children to adapt to change but they are stronger than we think and can adapt really well with encouragement. It’s a shame that you do not get on with your ex because you will need to work together to make decisions that are best for your daughter for some time yet. If you do not get on, there will be disagreements that cannot be resolved which may ultimately cost both of you in legal fees and stress. Children are sensitive and pick up hostility. It unsettles them and may dictate their behaviour; the way that they deal with things. Try to keep relations amicable and communications lines open. If your daughter is being bullied, try to discuss this with your ex and possibly her new partner too. It may be that the son is as you say, feeling threatened and insecure. If all three of you can get on, the children will sense this and may behave in a different way. Many girls share a bed with their sister and find it great fun if they get on. The key is getting them to like one another and enjoy each other’s company. You should discuss your concerns and work out whether this is rivalry or something more serious. Ultimately, you all need to work together to encourage all four children to be kind to one another and enjoy the new family unit.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. I separated from my sons father 9 months ago we were not married, my son is 8 and was born 20/02/03 he has introduced my son to his new
girlfriend he has been seeing his new girlfriend foor aprrox 6 weeks with a fall out in between and he has been working away for 3 weeks so i believe it to be far too ealy days to involve my son.. I have stated that
my ex can have continued accessas he has always done on the basis he doesnt involve my son yet for approx 6mths, he did not collect his son and told him it was because he was at his girlfriends house this is the 1st
time he has not seen his son and also not paid maintenance, am i right to request he does not involve my son at this early stage, he took my son the
weekend before and stayed at her house without ny knowledge i feel this all should have been discussed and managed better for my sons sake, this is not the first other girlfriend/friend he has introduced to my son where do i stand?

A. Hi

Contact must be for the benefit of your son. If he enjoys contact, is safe from harm and has a good relationship with his father, the contact should continue uninterrupted regardless of whether he pays maintenance or not. I know that sounds harsh but if a man cannot afford maintenance does that mean that his son must go without a father? I suspect that you feel your son may be at risk of emotional harm seeing his father with a new lady which is not unusual. You are right to be concerned about that. Perhaps the best way to deal with it is to have the discussion with your ex about how you can explain this to your son so that he deals with it in a way that is not damaging or hurtful. You may also choose to explain things to him yourself. Ultimately, you are both under an obligation to act in your son’s best interest and if you have concerns, discuss them and agree on how to address them. If your ex does not co operate, ask yourself whether it’s better to explain the relationship to your son rather than prevent him from seeing his father. I agree with you that this should be discussed and managed but if your ex is not cooperating, you may try to manage this by explaining the situation to your son and being there to deal with any issues that arise as a result of the relationship. If your son feels that this is not an issue and that mommy has explained it, he will be more willing to tell you if he is feeling uncomfortable. Children don’t like hostility and try to avoid it. If he feels that the ‘girlfriend’ is an issue for you, is it a possibility that he will not feel comfortable approaching you about things if he is confused.

I hope that you can work this out.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law



BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. Hello I hope you can advise me. I am 30 weeks pregnant. I had to leave the father 2 months ago due to emotional/mental abuse. He is mentally unwell and was unbearable to live with, breaking down and getting
into rages (breaking furniture etc...)Although he has never physically harmed me, he has made me so unwell through stress/manipulative and contolling behaviour. Since I have left he has sent some very nasty texts
and emails and when I have tried to speak with him and reason with him, he ends up in tears or ranting down the phone. I had to seek a solicitors help to stop the harassment. He was sent a letter advising him to cease
contacting me and was told if he did not stop, that I could get a non-molestation order against him. He ignored the solicitor's letter and turned up on my doorstep, the police were phoned and they also warned him off. He has now ignored this warning and continued to text and has even attempted to hack into my email accounts and facebook.



A. Hi

Poor you! You have done all the right things so far. Call the police and report the latest contact as continued threats and harassment. Do not hesitate at any time otherwise you are putting yourself at risk of harm.

Best Regards
Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. Hi, I have a son of 16months, me and his dad are separated he sees him twice a week, Tuesday 6 till 8 and Saturday 12-6. he is now asking to have him overnight.... I do not know where I stand with this so
need some advice. I personally do not think he is ok to stay over night, my son wakes up in the night and always shouts for me, hes very needey towards me and his sibling, his dad has always been a heavy sleeper and it worries me to think he could care for him over night, when my son comes home on tuesday he always feels cold, like there is no heating or warmth
for him there which worries me, his brother has drug dealers come to the house which scares me, i have alot of stress from what he caused last year to me and my daughter espically. and i do not feel he will be safe over night. where do i stand ? thank you

A. Hi Rebecca







This one was answered, please scroll down







Subject:



RE: QUESTION for Harjit Sarang - Family Law Expert

Hi there

You have a duty to act in the best interests of your son and protect him from harm. It concerns me that the drug dealer comes to the house. Is that not more dangerous when your son is awake? I wonder if you have discussed this with your ex to satisfy yourself how he currently protects him. You need to open up a dialogue with him and tell him what your concerns are. Try mediation if that helps the communication. If you can trust your ex to protect your son during the day, overnight contact should not be an issue. Does your son enjoy the contact? If he feels cold perhaps give him more clothing so that he is more comfortable. If your son enjoys the contact, you may want to agree to an overnight contact session and see how it goes after you have had some reassurances from your ex. Your ex must be enjoying the contact with your son to want him overnight. Do you think that there is an ulterior motive? You may want to give it a go and see how your son deals with it. Find out the sleeping arrangements to make sure that your ex is within earshot if there is a problem. This may be good for your son providing that your concerns are addressed. Talk to your ex calmly and ask for some reassurances.

Best Regards

Harjit




Q. If I was to leave my partner (not married) and move to another city in the UK with our baby, would I be violating the law? My child and I have Spanish nationalities, although I have been in the UK for over 15 years.

A. Hi there

No you would not be violating the law by moving to another city in England unless there is a court order preventing you from doing so. If your Partner has parental responsibility for your child (if his name is on the birth certificate and born after 1.12.2003 ) then you will need his consent to move aboard. Not having consent from him or the court is child abduction.

Your Partner may apply to the court for an order to prevent you moving to another city in England or, apply for an order for you to return. The court can find your address from the authorities and summons you to court. Unless there is a risk of harm, you should try to discuss the move with him and agree on a contact arrangement because it is your child’s right to maintain a relationship with father unless doing so puts him/her at risk of harm.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP






Q. hi, I have recently separated with my wife. i have two doughters aged 9 and 14. We have a verbal agreement with my wife that I can have the girls 3 nights per week , At the moment I am staying at my sisters house
since they are on vacation and the kids come and stay with me 3 nights a week. If I rent a 2 bedroom flat near my ex matrimonial house do you think
I can get some sort of help towards the rent? We have jointly mortgaged house and pay half of the mortgate and share childcare costs. It is almost
impossible to get a big enough flat to accomomodate my kids when I have to pay for our ex matrimonial house expenses...Please advice Yours
A. Your question below really needs a Family lawyer - but for what it's worth.

Renting a 2 bedroom flat near your ex-matrimonial house, you could claim Local Housing Allowance (LHA) BUT this is a means-tested benefit and seriously 'capped' in terms of rent allowed and number of bedrooms allowed. I doubt you would be allowed LHA for a 2 bedroom because your primary need is only for a 1 bedroom.

However you should check this out with your local CAB / council. Ask them how much (if anything) you might be entitled to.


Good luck

Richard Paris


Q. My boyfriend is having problems with his ex girlfriend - he has a 3 yr old son with her who we pick up every friday at 12.30 and drop home at 8.00 monday morning - she preciously phoned csa and told them that he only see him once a week which at the time was having him 4 days a week - she doesnt drive as banned as caught drunk driving - so we allways travel to pick him up and drop him home - she now send threatening texts to my boyfriend saying 30.00 on friday or your not having the baby - i dont see
why we would need to give her 30.00 or anything at all as we see the baby over the whole weekend and he says with us - she doesnt work and claims benfits like no tomorrow has another child who doesnt see her father and doesnt claim anything off him also he doesnt give her anything - why is the wicked witch being like this ? she is going to tear myself and boyfriend apart !!!!! please help what can we do

A. Hi there

I totally understand your frustration but a change can be made. There are two options for your boyfriend. Give in to her demands for money and have the same issues going forward with the demands getting larger and larger or, firmly reject her demands and insist upon the contact remaining intact. Should she withdraw the contact, he should see a solicitor to try and get it re instated asap. If she is as you describe, ‘a lady who enjoys her drink’ she may appreciate the weekends free and change her mind in time. Do retain those threatening text messages for the court to see in the event that an application is required. Don’t be bullied and put the interests of the child first. If she is genuinely short of cash for the child, offer to buy him something. Why is she being like this to him? Probably because she can.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. Hi, my ex has a solicitor, who is on holiday at the minute. The ex is insisting that I deal with him direct to avoid delay. I can't cope with this. I've insisted that I will only deal with his solicitor, but he is ignoring this. Do I have to deal with hm direct? Thanks

A. Hi there

No you don’t have to deal with him directly. His solicitor should have holiday cover if the issue cannot wait until his return. You may want to respond to his lawyers rather than him directly.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law


Q. me an my ex partner have a 15 month old daughter together. he works out of the country in afgan in private security. he is only back in the county for 3 months out of the whole year (9 weeks away , 3 weeks back in UK). I totally encourage the contact between him and his daughter as its nice for me to get a bit of a break. However he always dictates to me when he wants to see her depending on what he has planned. Last time he was back he had her for 6 nights, then I had her back for a week while he went on holiday, then he had her again. I reluctantly agreed to this as I just think whole weeks away is too much considering she doesnt really know him. I said next time he is back he can have exactly the same amount of time but just split it up a bit more. Last time he had her for a week he told me he wasnt having her again as it was stressing him out then he text me a week later saying hed changed his mind. He is due back in November now saying he wants to do exactly the same.



A. Hi there

It must be difficult for him to be so far away from his daughter and the very thought of being with her must make him want to say that he wants contact for the whole week! This is only natural and a good sign. The fact that he may get stressed after a few days is relevant but perhaps a better way of dealing with it would be to say ‘Yes of course you may see her as much as you want and I am only a phone call away if things get difficult’. At least that way, he has free contact and will feel comfortable approaching you when things do get tough. If you tell him ‘no’ because it’s too much for her, he may not feel so comfortable approaching you to avoid the big ‘I told you so’ issue. There is nothing stopping you phoning to see how she is but I hope the relationship is such that you trust him to call you if things get tough. If you are not approachable, he won’t call you. You may want to relay your concerns in a tactful manner but again just saying ‘ I recall last time she found it hard, do ring me if you need help or a break’.

I was interested to read that ‘she doesn’t really know him’. You may want to tell her things about him and think about phone or letter/picture contact whilst her father is away so that she has something to look forward to and knows who daddy is?

I hope that helps.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law



BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. I have been the main carer of my now 11 year old son since our divorce 5 years ago, and a house father before that, my ex wife and I came to an agreement that he would go there every second weekend and more time during holidays. She is now suddenly talking about every week, 1 week here, 1 there even though he would be a latch key child for that week as she works full time and will not be able to take or collect him from school as I do. I can not see how this will benefit our son, can I say no to the week but discuss maybe an evening mid week where he returns home
during school times.

A. Hi there

It is nice to hear that she wishes to spend more time with your son. If he enjoys contact and wants to go midweek, perhaps there is a way in which you can approach your ex to discuss your concerns about the school run and him being a ‘latch key kid’ to use your words. It is always advisable to try and keep the communication between you and your ex as easy as possible. Try dealing with issues in a non confrontational way and discuss concerns with suggested alternatives rather than ultimatums. I hope that you can reach an agreement that suits you both but importantly one that leaves your son benefitting from a great relationship with both of his parents. Sometimes, being in mom or dad’s home environment is as comforting as being with them.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. Hi, My ex partner was granted residencey order for our daughter in march this year. On the two hearing dates my legal aid still hadn't been granted so I was not legally represented. He continuosly plays head games with me ato the extent of me requiring counselling and having no self worth at all. He also in my mind, plays games with my daughter. I have a 6 year old daughter who isn't his, and she has been left soley in my care and no intervention whatsoever from social services or any other organisations. I am a good parent. I made mistakes, but have put things right and my kids are my main priority. Yesterday he texted me and accused me of physically and mentally abusing my childre, if this was the way he felt, why on earth would he send her to me from 10 - 6? I have told social services i fear hes mentally abusing and they aren't interested. I have now had my legal aid granted, and should be in court in next 4 weeks. What is the likelihood of my regaining the residency






A. Hi there

I am sorry to hear about your situation. You may have been disadvantaged by not having legal representations but at least it is granted now. I regret that I cannot offer you an opinion without knowing the facts of your case however, what I can say is that you should be in a better position to put your case forward and deal with any misconceptions now that you have representation. Good luck.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP

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Q. Hi, My 9 year old daughter stays with her dad every weekend, should she have her own bed and should he have a separate bedroom for her?













A. Hi there

If you are uncomfortable with your daughter sleeping with her father, suggest that she have a little blow up bed to sleep on.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. I've been a single dad for 2 years and having lots of problems with my ex wife. We are going through the divorce as we speak. She looks after my 3 year old daughter twice a week whilst I am at work. I
recently phone social services on her as my daughter come home saying her mother smacked her round the face since then social services have put guidlines in place and say my ex wife is fit to see her daughter. The case has now been closed. However I'm still having problems in the way my ex wife is when she is with my daughter, she smokes canabis around her, which social services know, and doesn't feed her well during the day, she doesn't interact with my daughter and so many other things. She will start arguing with me for no reason and scream and shout around my daughter. It is starting to affect my health. I have phoned social services since and they informed me they couldn't help me cause the case was close. I need help and don't know where to turn.

A. Hi

I am sorry that social services cannot assist you further. It is your duty to protect your daughter from the risk of harm. Indeed what you are describing is an atmosphere that may be causing your daughter harm. If you are confident in your views, you may write to your ex or, her representative and explain what you feel the risks are and what your expectations are for contact to take place. If there is no co operation and no change for the better, you may wish to consider changing contact. How does your daughter feel about the contact? Does she enjoy it? Is there a way in which contact can take place without the harmful factors? You need to balance your daughter’s right to have contact with her mother against the need to be protected from the risk of harm.

I hope that helps

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law

BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. I have pr and share custody with my sons mother. she is moving to another city to attend university. Will be placing my son in nursery 5 days a week and Will have work placements on evenings and weekends leaving
my son with people I don't believe Will have his best interests at heart (one is an alcoholic who has tried to take his own life on at least 2 occasions ) I have said I Will have my son full time so she can study but she Will not listen to my reasoning. most notably as I(his mother)won't get any funding for university. she moves in 5 weeks. I am having him for a week while she moves, she doesn't have any family who speak to her due to abuse accusations when she was younger. all of my family are close by so I am simply not returning my son to her care. any advice on this would be greatly appreciated

A. Hi

If you are satisfied that it is in your son’s best interests to live with you because he is at real risk of harm with his mother then, you have a duty to protect him which may justify keeping him with you. If your son’s mother disagrees, you may attend mediation to discuss your concerns or apply to the court for a residence order. The court will investigate your concerns and if the court agrees that your son is at risk of harm whilst in mother’s care, an order may be made in your favour (Residence Order). You may want to discuss this with your son’s mother and give her an opportunity to address your concerns. It may be that she can give you reassurances. However, in the event that she does not co operate, a court application may be the only way forward. You should think about contact between your son and his mother as much as possible so that the relationship is maintained.

I hope that helps.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law


BEST Solicitors LLP







Q. I'm 20 weeks pregnant, the father to the baby split up with me in hospital, leaving me to deal with a property we were due to move into and furniture we had bought using my name on hp. I've been trying to be civil and build some kind of relationship before the baby arrives but he is in consistant. I only dated him for 7months and he is nothing like he was when we were together. he sares a flat with a male room mate and his family are based in the north. I wanted to know what rights he has legally to the child and if he can take a baby overnight or to visit family that I barely know. I have tried to make contact with them as I have only met them twice so that we could form a relationship and I could trust them around my child but they do not appear interested. if I take a csa payment from him am I giving him rights that he wouldnt neccasarily have. I'd like him to have a relationship with the child but it cant be on his terms any advice would be great



A. Hi there
You have had a lot to deal with. It is admirable that you are proactively trying to involve your child’s father at this stage. It does not sound as though he is interested as yet but this may change when the baby arrives. Paying for a child does not give an automatic right to contact. Contact is the right of the child. The child will have the right to establish and maintain a relationship with his/her father if it is in their best interests to do so unless there is a risk of harm. This is the case whether they pay maintenance or not. It does not sound as though you can make any judgements at this stage. When the child is born, wait and see what contact father wants and take it from there. The contact will need to be at a level that is best for the child. Initially, the child will be bonding with you and you may be feeding on demand making contact limited to short visits. I advise that you concentrate on bonding with your child and wait for him to request contact as and when he feels that he can deal with it. You may thereafter, offer whatever contact you feel is suitable for your child.

Good luck

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law


Q. Hi, I divorced my ex when our daugther was one and she is now seven. I have a sole residency order and he has regular fortnightly contact but over the years he has messed her around. Often cancelling at
last minute, and breaking promises to her and he has never been involved in her education/school, because of this she has started to refuse to go with him. I encourage her and tell her she must and often manage to convince her to go for the day but not stay over. He has now been to a solicitor and wants joint residency, will he get this if she has lived
with me for the last 7 years, and she doesnt want to go? Surely usetting her and disrupting her home life is not in her best interest. Thanks Stressed mum

A. Hi
Contact must be for the benefit of your daughter. If she is stating clearly that she does not wish to go, one must explore her reasons. It must be difficult for father to miss his contact and it will assist him to understand and co operate if he knows why contact is being rejected. It is not appropriate to ask your daughter directly but if there is a way to encourage her to tell you why she is unhappy with Daddy, then that would be a starting point. Perhaps then you could both work together to address her concerns. She may be bored, she may feel left out, she may be uncomfortable. Many things can be addressed and the relationship saved. If the matter proceeds to court, a children’s officer will speak to your daughter and try to ascertain her feelings. The court would then direct an appropriate way to proceed. It may be that she is too young to articulate her feelings, in which case the children’s officer will recommend the best way forward. Essentially, if you can attend mediation and try to work this out together in the best interests of your daughter, you may be able to fix it. In the meantime, I agree that if she does not want to go, she should not be forced. Perhaps you can try to find a way for her to communicate her feelings to you so that you can work with her father to make contact more enjoyable.

I hope that helps

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
















Q. is it true that if I have PR, have regular contact with my children i dont have to return them back to there mother if im concerned about there living arrangements, even if they are on a child protection
plan and there is no concerns about them living with me full time?.



A. Hi there

If there are concerns, you should try and communicate with the mother about those concerns. If your children are on the child protection register, you should liaise with the relevant social worker and try to get the concerns addressed. If there is a court order in place stating that the children should be returned to mother, you need to get a solicitor to write to her and communicate why you feel that you cannot return them and ultimately, get a court order securing residence with you if that is what is best for the children. The court will need to investigate concerns and make a decision.

Ultimately, your duty is to protect the children from the risk of harm balancing it with their right to have contact with their mother.

Hope that helps.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law



BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. My ex-husband has returned from a holiday with our son age 4 and his new partner and her son age 8. He told me that they would be sharing twin rooms with the children, him with our sonm her with her son. My
little boy told me last night that him and her son shared a room with a balcony (I dont know which floor they stayed on) whilst they were there and had their own room key and that his dad and partner stayed in a
different room across the corridor. What should I do, from what my son said he had been told not to say anything about it by his dad and since their return his dad has lied to me about this by stating that him and our son shared a room.

A. Hi there

You must be very disappointed, not only from a trust point of view but a safety point of view. An 8 year old cannot ensure the safety of a 4 yr old. The fact that your son has been told not to tell you makes this worse. It is wrong for your ex to put your son in a position where he is having to keep things from you. That is a huge burden for a little boy. My view is that you should tactfully approach this with your ex and explain how you feel about the safety issue and the ‘keeping secrets’ issue. Try not to start off confrontational because you just want to get the facts before you give an opinion. It may be that your son is not totally correct about what happened. It may be that your ex made some arrangements about their security without your son knowing. If your son is correct, you will need to explain the risks to your ex and hope that he acknowledges his mistakes. If he does not, I would think again before consenting to a holiday.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law


Q. Hi, I have a sister is a Malaysian & is boy friend is from China, which both of them are working in England (without work permit). My sister is pregnant now (around 1 month already), she decide to deliver the baby in England, can you give me some advice? thanks & regard



A. Hi

Congratulations. I advise that you contact an immigration solicitor for some advice on your sister’s immigration status before and after the birth.

I’m sorry that I cannot assist further.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP


Q. My ex partner placed my daughter into nursery a couple of months back she never asked for my consent, I know that a father has a right and should be consulted about what nursery their kid(s) will attend.I have been having my daughter 4 nights a week for awhile now and the days I have her are the days she is suppose to be nursery, I am starting to think that my daughter hasnt been placed in any nursery because ive always got her. Can I contact the nursery or go in and find out if she is actually enrolled?

A. Hi

If you have parental responsibility for your daughter (if you are on her birth certificate as father and she was born after 1st December 2003) you have the right to share in the important decision making such as schools and names etc. That doesn’t necessarily mean that she needs your consent but at the very least, she should keep you informed. You may approach the nursery and satisfy them that you have parental responsibility for emergencies and key information on development. Your ex should consent to this. The nursery are not permitted to divulge any information to you and may still refuse to assist unless your ex gives them permission. At that point, you may want to get a solicitor to write a letter to the nursery confirming your legal position.

Alternatively, ask you ex partner or consider attending mediation to discuss what issues should be decided jointly.

Hope that helps

Q. I have a daughter who is 23 months I have split from my partner with soliciters we had an agreement to have my daughter 2 afternoons a week for tea and every friday for overnight stay she has now said I cannot see her at all what can I do?
A. Hi there

I’m sorry to hear that. The first step is to try and discuss it with your ex directly. If she will not consent consider mediation services. Mediation is where you both meet with an independent third party who will assist you reach an agreement. If mediation is not accepted or workable you may need to instruct a solicitor to try and get to the bottom of why contact has been withdrawn. Your daughter has the right to have contact with you unless doing so may put her at risk of harm. If your ex will not co operate, your other option is to apply to the court for a contact order. The court will appoint an independent third party (cafcass officer) to prepare a report and recommend whether contact should take place and if so, how much and how frequently. The officer may also be asked to investigate any allegations against you. That is the procedure very generally. You need advice from your local solicitor if speaking to your ex does not work.

Best of luck

Harjit



Q. My ex husband has our 2 children (he isn’t on the oldest childs birth cert,but he is on youngests born 2004)every weekend. we split 4 years ago after violence etc and he hasnt paid me any money since and was in prison for a year. my kids have bben coming home lately and telling me
things that are concerning me. he left them for 3 hours one night with a 12 year old babysitter while he went to the pub,he took them to a house party and passed out drunk and left the 9 year old to fend for herself untill 6 am when she tok herslf to bed,he allows the 9 year old to make cups of tea and also smokes cannabis around them. ive tried to express my concerns but he denies everything then my kids come home and tell me he shouted at them for telling me the things he had done. i dont feel my kids
are safe with him anymore,can i stop him seeing them?


A. Have I read this correctly? Exposed to drugs and drug users, left unattended at parties and in pubs where drugs may be readily available, left alone with a 12 year old to babysit? I am so sorry to hear that you are having to deal with this. Ultimately, your role as parent is to ensure that the children are free from the risks of harm. If you know that this is what he is putting them through, you should protect your children by not sending them. Your ex needs to acknowledge that what he is doing is incorrect. Until he understands why his behaviour is wrong and most importantly, until he realises why the environment that you have described is so harmful to the children, in my view, he is not fit to have contact.

I advise that you immediately communicate this to him formally through solicitors and protect your children from the risk of harm.

Good luck.
Q. Hi my daughter is 17 months old, her father left me when she was 6 months old, me and my daughter have since moved 120 miles back to my family home, as where we were residing before, i had no support there and because he kept our family home. My issue is that in the past 11 months he has visited twice, he has sent costant solicitors letters with threats of court and access orders as he wants our child to visit him in his home
town, My solicitors has agreed she is far too young to travel all of that way via train. We have openly offered him as much contact as he wants with her, with just 24 hrs notice. He refuses to talk to me and will only be in
contact with me via his mother. My main issue is since his last visit, my daughter has been extremely unsettled, she is called any man dadda, shes not sleeping properly. I have tried to contact him and pretty much begged
him to visit her more often, even if it is just once a month as it is affecting her to which he just ignored me. I have no idea what to do?

A. This is a very difficult situation for you and I admire what you have done so far. It is great that consider your daughter’s relationship with her father as an important one. You are correct that she needs to have a relationship with him if it is in her best interests to do so and, if it is not causing her any harm. It may be that having too little contact is causing her some emotional harm but this will need to be investigated by a professional. It sounds like she is longing for a father figure in her life if she is calling other men ‘Dadda’.

The way forward is to try and open up communications so that you can inform him of your feelings and the impact that short contact is having on your daughter. Have you tried mediation somewhere in the middle of where you both live?

It is not so much the amount of contact that matters, but the quality of the contact. Perhaps write to his solicitors setting out your concerns and suggest ways in which he may have more contact. Perhaps you could meet half way so that travelling for contact is not so difficult. Maybe telephone or skype contact starting off once a week and then increased in line with your daughter’s needs and wishes. Letters and phone calls are really helpful where a father is far away. Your daughter may enjoy expressing herself in a picture or a letter in her own time and, in her own way.

A father cannot be forced to see his children because he may resent it which ultimately effects the children. The best you can do is explain to him how you feel. Explain how too little contact is impacting upon your daughter. Then perhaps suggest ways to increase it. If he is not agreeable then I suggest that you seek some advice from a professional as to how to deal with this issue so that your daughter does not feel unloved or abandoned by her father.

Good luck.
Q. My sons father keeps letting him down and it's starting to affect my son, should I stop letting him see him?







A. You are correct to be concerned about this. It would be helpful to know what the issues are. However, it cannot be easy to see your son suffer and be let down. It is so important for the children to maintain a relationship with both parents unless doing so puts them at risk of harm. To justify excluding father from his life, it must be a serious issue. Children are resilient and forgive things like lateness and you could help him deal with that. Is the quality of the contact good when he does see his father? Think ahead because when your son is older, he will want to know why he was prevented from seeing his father. What will you tell him? Will he resent you for it? My advice is that you discuss the issues with his father. If you do not have dialogue, perhaps you could write him a letter or an e-mail setting out exactly what he is doing and the effect that it is having on your son. If he ignores you and continues then you may want to tell him that you are seriously thinking about withdrawing contact in the best interests of your son and see your solicitor for a formal letter to be written.
You should assess whether the harm being suffered justifies the greater long term harm of not having a relationship with his father. If you can find a way to effectively communicate with his father perhaps you can work together to ensure that your son benefits from a relationship with both of you.

Good luck
Best Regards
Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP









Q. Hi I'm a single father to a little boy who will be 3 in Oct. I would like to take him on holiday next year, abroad for a week. I have approached his mother about this but she point blank refuses to even consider myself having a holiday abroad with him! Up to now the longest i've been allowed to have him is three nights. I have him twice a week and have done since our split (when he was 3 months old). Her reasons for not
allowing it is she thinks he is too young, at the time of my proposed trip he would be three and a half, which i think is perfectly old enough and
know he would absolutely love the experience. I understand that i need her permission to go abroad with him and the only option open to me would be
to apply for a Specific Issue Court Order! what would be my chances of this being granted? The holiday would be a package trip to spain or something similar. Thank you Stuart

A. I presume that you have parental responsibility for your son (due to his age and presumption that you are on the birth certificate as his father). You seem to be aware that removing your son from the jurisdiction without his mother’s consent is child abduction which is a criminal offence. You are also aware that if you do not get consent, the only option would be a ‘specific issues’ application.

If he is only 3 and has never been abroad before, I suspect that her refusal is based on concern rather than your ability to care.

The destination that you have chosen is not long haul, it is not unsafe. I took my son to Europe when he was two and he loved the experience but, there were two of us with him. I expect that your ex is more concerned about the logistics. How will he cope with the flight, will you ever leave him unattended or with untrustworthy

1 How will you handle him at the airport if it’s busy, if there are delays, queues etc (take food, drink, buy him a book/toy at the airport to prevent boredom). Take a small amount of luggage or just one big case that is easy to check in. What about a light pushchair that you can take to the aircraft if he gets tired? Keep him with you at all times and put a name card in his pocket. Put something distinctive on him such as a bright coloured cap.

2 Take distractions for the aircraft, lollypops and a drink for takeoff and landing. Tell an attendant to watch him when you go to the bathroom on flight or go beforehand.

3 Some people are comfortable using crèche facilities etc abroad. Are these staff checked thoroughly etc, one can never be sure.

4 Is he sleeping in the same room as you, is the room child friendly with a very high balcony wall etc

5 What will you do in the evenings? Spain is great for children and routines can be changed such that you both have a siesta in the afternoon so that he can dine out with you in the evening rather than you getting a sitter.

I have listed things that I would want to know about as a mother, you may add to the list. It’s really to give you an idea of what her fears may be. The long and short of it is to keep him safe and with you at all times. Perhaps agree to give her a phone call when you get there and just for 5 mins at the end of each day so that she is reassured. It is understandable for her to be nervous.

In my view, if you can satisfy the court that there are no welfare issues i.e. no concerns about your son’s health and safety whilst he is under your care, there should be no reason to refuse your application. You should advance full details of the holiday including hotel address and phone number together with a copy of the return ticket for reassurance in the event that there is an allegation that you may not return him from Spain.

Essentially, if you provide reassurances and address all of her concerns in writing, in my view, the court will give you permission to take him away. I hope that she agrees and that you have a wonderful holiday. Just never ever leave him unattended.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law



BEST Solicitors LLP









carers etc. These are all natural concerns for a mother and father. You may want to give her all of the reassurances that she needs to show her that you have really thought it through. Preferably in writing, perhaps deal with the following issues:-








Q. My ex wants to have my daughter for a couple of hours at the weekend but i am worried that if i agree he wont give her back, she is resided with me at my parents and he is named on her birth certificate, can he do this and if he does where do i stand.

A. Hi there, thank you for your question.

If your ex is named on the birth certificate as father, it is likely that he has parental responsibility if she was born after December 2003. Contact rights are the rights of your child. Unless she is at risk of suffering any harm, she has the right to get to know her father. It is positive that your ex has requested to see her for a few hours at the weekend. It is not a huge amount of time and I note that your only concern seems to be that your daughter may not be returned to you. Your daughter is still quite young and the fact is that if possible, it is better for you to work with your ex to ensure that your daughter benefits from a relationship with each of you. If you can learn to trust and work with each other now, you will see the benefits.

I am not sure where your fear of non return comes from. Is it something that he has said or threatened? The only way to secure a return is by way of a court order (residence order). This order if granted will state that your daughter is to reside with you.

If there have been no threats, you may wish to extend some trust and give him the benefit of the doubt. You may be surprised. You may wish to speak to him beforehand and explain your fears in a non accusatory manner to seek a reassurance perhaps.

I hope that contact works out for the benefit of your daughter. Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP



Q. My ex is taking our 3 year old son on holiday in 4 weeks time. He refuses to tell me where he is taking him. He may go abroad. I have sole residency and hold our son's passport. How much does he need to tell me
and when by? Even if he stays in the UK can he refuse to tell where he is going? He is a family lawyer and well aware therefore of the law and really is just withholding information to annoy me. I am afraid I got
angry with him today and told I would not release the passport unless he told me where he was going so he has now said he is going to Cornwall but won't tell me where.
A. Hi there

If your ex is a family lawyer, he should know what he can and cannot do as regards holidays. If you have a sole residence order in your favour, you may take your child abroad without his consent for up to a month. However, you may be aware that he should not remove your child from the jurisdiction without your consent or a court order because doing so would be child abduction. I assume that he knows that if he is a family lawyer.

If he is staying in the country, he does not need the passport and therefore you should retain it. You may also want to notify the passport office that you have a sole residence order in the event that he tries to get a duplicate made.

This is about trust and communication. It is unfortunate that he won't share a basic and essential piece of information with you. If only for emergencies, it is perfectly understandable to want to know where your child is unless, there is a danger of you attending and harassing him or such like.

I don't think it is asking much to want to know where he is staying with a contact number for emergencies. Equally, you will need to extend the same information if and when you go away with your child.

Hope that helps.

Best regards,

Harjit Sarang



Q. I am a single mum of 1 6month old, i moved out of my flat 9 days ago and moved into my mums house, since then my ex boyfriend has got a new partner and is being abusive over texts messages, he has a history of drugs and violence and i want sole custody of my son how can i do this?

A. Hi there

If you want to ensure that your child is not removed from your care, you need to apply to the court for a Residence Order. If granted, this order will state that the child must live with you. If your ex has the habits that you are reporting, this will not be difficult. You may also want to see contact restricted to supervised only, to ensure as much safety for the child as possible.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law


BEST Solicitors LLP





Q. Hi how do i get parental responsibilty with my ex she is not letting me see our daughter

A. Hi

Are you sure that you don’t have parental responsibility? Were you named on the birth certificate? Do check this. If you do not have parental responsibility already, you may obtain it by way of a court order or by her agreement. If she is not being cooperative now, she may not agree straight away. I suggest that you ask your solicitor to write to her and if she still does not agree, you should apply to the court for a parental responsibility order.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law


BEST Solicitors LLP





Q. Hi Can my Ex Partner book a christening for my 9 year old
daughter as well as her 2 other children without asking or informing me about it she has texted my wife what date it is but not a time should she of informed me what she wanted to do with my daughter rather than going ahead and booking it with me being the father ?





A.

Hi





Parental responsibility is the legal obligation and duty that you have to a child. Where a mother and father share parental responsibility, they should discuss and agree important issues such as a christening. If you were married when your daughter was born, it is likely that you have parental responsibility. If you were not married, it depends on whether you are named on the birth certificate or, if you were given parental responsibility by a court order or your ex’s agreement. Parental responsibility aside, it is not an absolute right for you to be informed about the christening and your ex is not breaking the law by not seeking your approval. I can’t comment on what is required by the church. Your ex should think about how she would feel if you did a similar thing for your daughter without discussing it with her. Where possible you need to agree things together but it is not always possible depending on how your relationship has developed since your separation. Sometimes, it is not possible to communicate and therefore decisions have to be made without consultation. Let’s look at this from the point of view of the child. Is it contrary to her best interests to be christened? If not, at least you got an invite. I agree that it is not ideal. I advise that you dis

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP
http://bestsolicitorsllp.wordpress.com/
cuss this and future important decision making with your ex so that you are not in the same situation again.

Q. The childrens father smokes around them and also the children have told me they seen him make ciggarettes which is marijuana.I am concerned them picking up on these things and then thinking it is ok to do I dont want there father to smoke around them and i have told him that.
Can I get him to get drug tested through my solicitor? if so where would I have to go to do that?



A. Hello

Assuming that he is smoking such substances, your first step would be to inform him that you are concerned about the impact that this is having on the children. If he does not listen or if he denies what you believe to be the truth, then you may approach your solicitor for further advice. The court may order a drugs test within proceedings if he denies the allegation. Without court proceedings, your solicitor may invite him to take a test before further contact is agreed by you. If he refuses, you may wish to apply to the court.

Best Regards
Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law


BEST Solicitors LLP

http://bestsolicitorsllp.wordpress.com/







Q. My son hasn't seen his father in over 3 years, is there a way I can get a passport for him without contacting his Dad? We don't know where he is and don't have any contact details for him!
A. Hello

As far as I am aware, you can apply for a passport as you have parental responsibility of your son provided that, there has not been a court order regarding passports. You will need to complete the form to declare that you are not aware of the father’s address.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP

Q. My x partner has a daughter who is now 19years of age but he has never had contact with her as all those years ago the mother and him parted company whilst she was pregnant (her doing) and she then refused him contact with the baby nor did she put his name on her birth certificate. She subsiquently threatened him with a beating from her brothers should he persue the matter. As time has passed he & her grandmother has often thought of her and wishes to meet her but we do not know if she knows about him being her dad or what her mother has told her. Would we be able to now contact her direct or as we do not know if she is
aware of her dad be advised to do a letter from a solicitors with our wishes to her etc. My x parners is now in his early 40's and as years go by would like to leave something for her but is also aware that she may
wish to have a d & a done to confirm.



A. Hello





I am sorry to hear that your ex Partner has not been able to see his daughter during her minority. Now that she is 19, she is capable of making her own decisions but you must be conscious of her feelings if she has no idea about her real father. She may have gone through life thinking that somebody else is her father and news to the contrary may devastate her. Yes, she has a right to know the truth but how you deliver that news is so important. You want to avoid disrupting her life or even alienating her if you approach this all guns blazing. You are correct to consider the initial approach very carefully. My suggestion is that your ex try to contact her mother again. Explain why he wants to contact his daughter and invite an explanation as to what your ex’s daughter has been told about who her father is. At that point you will be in a better position to decide how to progress and you may even have mother’s co operation.





Good luck.
Q. My son is three years old, and since i found out i was pregnant it was just me and him, his father saw him when it suited him up untill a year ago when my son was two. This was when my ex had got into a new relationship and he and his new girlfriend where living together. From hardly seeing him to wanted to see him every second weekend was hard, but i did it for my son's sake. It it now 10 months later, and has turned in to my ex and his girlfriend wanting my son on their own. I have told my ex he can have our son but on his own, he needs to build a better bond with my son, before i'm happy for the two of them to have him. He has turned around and said he will not have him unless his girlfriend can be there. I am not happy with this, as my son doesn't want to be with her, he wants his dad. It is causing alot of problems and is making me really ill, i just need some advice on how i can make sure that only his dad can have access to him for the time being?
A. Hi

Thank you for your question. You have done well to facilitate contact as much as you have been doing. It demonstrates your ability to put your son’s interests first. It sounds as though your son has a good relationship with his daddy and looks forward to being with him. The fact that he has been having contact with him for 10 months and wants more is a good sign. The consistency of the contact demonstrates his commitment to your son. Perhaps he is requesting more valuable contact so that he can increase the bond between them.

I assume from your question that you have been present during this contact and now your ex and his girlfriend prefer for you not to be there or, that he has been having contact without his girlfriend being present? In any event, it seems as though your son is comfortable in the company of his father. Any decision that you make must be in the best interest of your son. He has the right to maintain this relationship with his father unless doing so puts him at risk of harm.

You say that you want your ex to be alone with your son, which shows that you trust him and have no concerns about his ability to care for your son. Perhaps this trust should be extended to trusting him to protect your son from any risk of harm that you feel your son may come to in the company of his girlfriend. I presume that your concern is not so much the safety of your son but, the confusion it may cause him to see Daddy and his new girlfriend. I advise that you speak to your ex about how this relationship can be explained to your son if you feel that it needs to be explained at all. I suspect that this will not be too difficult for your son to accept because you have lived apart for so long and because of his age.

Essentially, you may want to explain why you find this new contact proposal unacceptable and work together to agree on contact that is not restrictive for your ex and remains beneficial for your son. Ultimately, this is about trusting your ex in the same way that your ex trusts you with any new relationships that you may have had over the past 3 years or will have in future.

I hope that helps.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP









Q. My wife has taken our daughter to the United States and she has wrongfully retained her there. We have been to the courts and under a Hague Convention hearing at the Federal Court it has been decided for the child to return to her usual residence. Now, just 5 days before the scheduled hand over of our daughter to me, she has scheduled for her christening without my consent. She has informed only 4 days earlier and off course this is a very short notice for me to travel from Europe and make different arrangements. In addition, I do not agree with the christening taking place over there, away not only from friends and family of mine, but also of hers. I still have parental rights and legal custody of our daughter, so can she do this?

A. Hi

Thank you for your question. Whilst the process of seeking the return of your daughter must have been very stressful, I am pleased for you that the result is good news. Regarding the christening, if you have the available funds to apply to the court for an urgent Prohibited Steps Order to prevent the christening taking place in the US, the onus will be on you to show that it is in your child’s best interests to be christened in the UK and not in the US. Your reasons would need to include how important the event is to you and your family, the fact that your family are in this country where your daughter will reside and last but not least, the fact that it is such a major event that it would be unfair on the child for it to take place in your absence. It would also assist if you could show that you would invite your ex to the christening in the UK and therefore asking to postpone the christening is not an attempt to exclude her from the occasion. What the court decides is a gamble I’m afraid. Some Judges may frown upon your ex proceeding with such a big occasion in your absence and without your consent whilst other Judges may just expect you to make alternative arrangements if you cannot attend.

Forgive me for asking but is it possible to have two christenings? If it is, you may want to do nothing about the event in the US and have a separate and big occasion in the UK.

Best regards

Q. I'm concerned my ex is pushing for my son to be positively tested for autism as she is aware of being able to claim additional benefits and wouldn't have to work as my son is now 7. I have my son 3 weekends out of every 4 and have seen no signs of all the reasons my ex has been giving to the people assessing him and I have had no involvement at all. What can I
do ?
A. Hi

It is interesting to note that you have not seen any of the signs in your son that his mother is claiming to see. It is the case that children are different with each adult depending on how they feel around them. I would be interested to hear what the symptoms are that mother claims he is displaying, and then perhaps it would be useful to explore why he behaves differently in mother’s company.

If the assessments are repeated despite the first expert saying that he is free of autism symptoms, there is arguably a risk that your child is being harmed emotionally and / or psychologically by the process. Indeed, if your opinion on why the assessment is being carried out is correct, you may wish to apply to the court for a prohibited steps order that no further assessments take place without your consent other than routine, scheduled medical assessments for his development.

I don’t know much about autism except that there are many variations and a whole spectrum of symptoms that vary in seriousness. I do not think that she will receive benefits with a short general diagnosis.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner and Head of Family Law


BEST Solicitors LLP

Q. Hi, we have just found out that my daughters mother is planning on having her adpoted by her new partner from third party, does she have to get my permission, I am on my daughters birth certificate, she was born
but I have not seen her since she was 9mths old due to my ex being unreasonable and preventing me access. thank you for your time.
A.
Q. If a court orders a drugs test in a custody battle how long will it be to take it after the order?

A. Hi

If the court has ordered a drugs test, it is normal accompanied by a date for the test or even dates if the tests are to be at frequent intervals. If not date is specified, you should contact the court or your solicitor for clarification because any delay may affect the results.

Best regards
Harjit Sarang
Q. My expartner has recently been found guilty of selling heroin 5 days after she was sentanced to 2 years probation she was raided again and I was phoned by social workers to say I was to keep the kids away from her while they investigated allegations she was using my 8 year old son to deliver drugs .after two weeks the social workers told me they could not prove these allegations and she could take my kids back off me which she did by going to school and taking them out early . Am worried sick I know my kids are in danger in her care what can I do ????
A. Hi

I’m sorry to hear about your situation. Social services uses its own checklist and criteria when deciding whether or not to intervene. If you feel that the children are at risk of harm and that the only way that they can be safe is by living with you, you should consider applying to the court for an urgent residence order. If the court is satisfied that the children are at risk of harm either by being involved with the drug distribution or even by being in that environment, an order should be made in your favour. If the residence order is made in your favour, the children should live with you. The court may also see fit to impose conditions upon your ex partner having contact with the children. You will need to make some sensible suggestions in that regard.

If the matter is urgent, you may apply to the court at short notice for a residence order to be made on the same day.

I hope that helps.
Best regards,
Harjit Sarang
Q. Does my son have to keep my ex partners surname. we were never married.
A. Hi there

It rather depends on whether his father has parental responsibility. Father would have this if your son was born after December 2003 and his name is on the birth certificate. If he has parental responsibility, you need his permission to change your son's surname. If permission is not forthcoming, you need to apply to the court for permission to change the surname.
Whether you are successful depends on whether your son has a relationship with his father, whether there are any welfare / risk issues, what is best for your son and the dynamics of your family unit. I have to say that it is not an easy thing to do if your son has a maintained relationship with his father.


Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP
Q. hi my exs parents want access to my son what are they intittled to ? i was going to offer once a month on a wednesday after school for a few hours

A. Hi Samantha

Contact is the right of your son. If you feel that it is in his best interests to maintain a relationship with your ex's parents then you should decide what level is appropriate. What you have suggested sounds absolutely fine. Continue to be led by your son and credit to you for acepting that your son has a right to get to know his grandparents providing that doing so is not putting him at risk of any harm.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP

Q. I have a 7month daughter.me and her dad were never married and he chose not to be on the birth certificate. he doesnt see her regularly and he has failed to go to big events like first chrismas.he cancels last minute when we arange a visit.he now is demanding his name goes on the birth certificate and he gets to have her for a day. I have said no on the grounds that she doesnt even know who he is, he doesnt know how to look after her and he i very hostile towards me. If he goes to court can he get her without me being there?
A. Hi

It is only natural for you to be concerned about leaving your 7 month old with her father when he has not been in her life so far. As his name is not on the birth certificate and you were never married, he does not have parental responsibility for her. Parental responsibility is a legal duty and obligation towards the child. It means that he should be involved in all of the major decision making in her life. It also means that you need each other's consent to go abroad or change names etc. If he applies to the court for Parental Responsibility it is likely to be granted because the threshold is quite low.

If your ex is applying to have contact and you have concerns about her welfare or safety whilst in his care, you should alert the court. My view is that if there are no welfare issues, it is likely that the court will order contact starting off for a short period and supervised. Whether the contact can be supervised by you, needs to be looked at. If there is noticeable hostility between you, this may not be beneficial for your daughter because children pick up on hostility. If he is serious about being in your daughter's life, this could work out well for her. She will have a relationship with mother and father.

The contact will be reviewed and if the court feels that contact is in the best interests of your daughter, it will increase it slowly until eventually contact is unsupervised. I will stress that he will need to demonstrate a commitment by attending each session. Most importantly, the court will only order contact if satisfied that it is in the best interests of your daughter. To assess this, the court will appoint a cafcass officer to prepare a report. The officer will speak to you and monitor some contact sessions in order to give some feedback and to give an opinion to the court.
You are advised to work with the cafcass officer who should listen to your concerns and opinions about contact.

Your reservations are that he hasn't been interested so far, he doesn't know her, nor does he know how to look after her. In my view, the court will want to look at what his intentions are. If he can satisfy the court that he is committed to contact, he will be given an opportunity to make it work providing that your daughter is not at risk of harm and that it is in her best interests to have a relationship with her father. As for not knowing how to look after her, perhaps you could write a few things down for him based on what you know or think would help? Children don't come with manuals, we all learn on the job!

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP

http://bestsolicitorsllp.wordpress.com/
Q. I am a single mum of one child,my childs father has fortnightly contact and a extra day in the holidays. He is very abusive and controlling which means that I stay away from him for my own saftey. He has took me to court for more access. i have fought this because he plays mind games with my 7 yr old. I also think he is on drugs, and the courts are aware that he "occasionaly" smokes cannabis, I suspect its more. He has not taken the drug test and I am being harrased by his solicitors for all sorts of things like taking her abroad. I feel my solicitor is not helping and the caffcass are not hearing my concerns. I feeel pressured to conform to there suggestions. The drug test is important to me and mine came very quickly negative. He still after weeks has not took one, no one is doing anything about it. What can i do
A. Hi

You are correct to be concerned. If your daughter is having unsupervised contact with her father and you strongly suspect that he is using drugs, you are not being unreasonable by asking for a drugs test. If he is taking drugs it directly impacts upon his ability to provide a safe environment.
I am sorry to hear that your solicitor is not being supportive, perhaps tell them how you feel or file a complaint? If you still feel that you are not being represented fairly, consider changing solicitors. Essentially, you as parent have the duty to ensure that your daughter is safe and well. If you have any suspicions that she is at risk of harm with her father, you need to bring that to the urgent attention of the court and make sure that it is addressed. If your current solicitor is not doing this, your should arranage a meeting to explain you disatisfaction. If there is a court
order that he do a drugs test, ask your solicitor about terminating contact until he has done it or apply to enforce the order. You need to assess whether having no contact with father is as harmful as having contact with
father when he is intoxicated.

I hope that you get some cooperation. Credit to you for not being bullied.


Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner Family Law
Q. my ex and i have been split for 8yrs. we both are engaged to other people. He has 2 children with partner under 2yrs and is not able to have son if he is not there where as b4 he did and she looked after. Latly she is making son upset when he is there so i have said right no more when your not there he now is threatenin to take me to court???
A. Hi

It would be useful to know how old your son is and whether he enjoys contact when father is there. Generally, what is his relationship with the 'step children' and soon to be'step mom'? The short answer to your question is that if she is being mean to your son and he is getting upset, contact is possibly not in his best interests. Also, if it continues, father is in danger of your son not wanting contact to continue at all. I would agree with you that the most important thing is for father to be present. Whilst it is important to have contact with father and his new family, the important thing is enjoying contact. If your son is distressed and does not wish to attend, father needs to address this as soon as possible.

Threatening to withdraw contact and imposing conditions is perhaps not the correct approach. Try to discuss your son's unhappiness with father and ask that he address it with his new Partner. If he knows that his son is unhappy, he may do something about it himself. In the event that he
doesn't, I don't think you are unreasonable.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP
Q. Hi there My partners ex has all of a sudden stopped him from seeing the children wothout a reason, he hasnt seen them in 2 weeks and is really upset. He is ment to have them every tuesday an thursday for dinner and every second weekend. The children are 2 and one coming up for 5 the children love coming to daddys because they get paid attention an taught new things. We have also just found out that she has also changed the oldest name at nursery without his consent he is on both birth certificates and we dont no wehat to so. She is being unreal we also know she dunps the kids on her mum and dad every weekend so she can go out. She is using the kids as a weapon which is not on. There is so much that has happened she wont have a leg to stand on in court. But my partner wants his childrens names to stay the same as his daughter is always turning around saying I have my daddys surname I love my daddys surname. She is a very brainy child and this is all going to confuse her.
A. Hi there

Regarding contact - Consider using mediation services to find out why contact has broken down. If mediation is not a possibility, you may want to
instruct a solicitor to write to her to get some answers. Depending on her
reasons for withdrawing contact, you will be advised further and may need to apply to the court for a Contact Order. Contact will be granted if after investigation, the court finds that maintaining a relationship with father is in the best interests of the children. The court will need to know why she has stopped contact and why she refuses to reintroduce it.

I agree that terminating contact without any reason and not informing you is very unreasonable. As for mother leaving the children with her parents whilst she goes out, one would need to investigate this to see if the children were at any risk of harm. If it is simply a case of the children spending quality time with grandparents whilst tired mommy has a break to
socialise, this is not something that the court will frown upon. I agree
that using the children as pawns is not acceptable. They need to maintain healthy relationships with both parents unless they are being put at risk of harm. If mother has any allegations against father, the onus will be on her
to prove them. That brings me on to the name change. If father has
parental responsibility, his consent must be obtained to change the name.
Father may write to mother objecting to the name change at this point and ask her to change it back. If she refuses, he may apply to the court for a Specific Issues order asking that she change the name back to his surname.
The court is likely to make this order if satisfied that it is in the children's best interests to retain the surname. The wishes and feelings of the children will be taken into consideration as will mother's reasons for wanting to change the name. My view is that if the children have a relationship with father, and mother has not remarried or had more children, father's application has good merit.

Best regards,

Harjit Sarang


Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP

Q. My ex left me before I gave birth to my second child he has been seeing them once a week but when I am there , I dont trust him as he has threatened to take them before , he is now taking me to court for accsess. Can the courts make me?
A. Hi there

I am presuming that he is taking you to court for 'contact' with the children because there is a disagreement. Have you tried mediation services to talk about your concerns? Certainly, at the start of any court case, you will be given the opportunity to have a conciliation meeting where your concerns can be relayed at an early stage.

For now, if you are not comfortable permitting contact because of the fear of father removing the children from you care and not returning them to you, you may state this and invite the court to make a Residence Order in your favour. The Residence Order will confirm that the children live with you and therefore, if father ever refuses to return them to you, the police should assist once they have seen the order. If you fear that the risk of removal is more than 'not returning them at an agreed time', you may consider a Prohibited Steps Order. This is an order preventing father from removing the children from your care unless there is a prior agreement or court order permitting him to do so. The court will only make an order if necessary and therefore, you will need to explain why you have this fear.
Always ensure that you are considering what is best for the children when making your decisions.

Don't be threatened or bullied into agreeing contact periods that you are not comfortable with. You need to be able to communicate your concerns and wait until they have been appropriately addressed so that you have some re assurance as required.

I hope that helps.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP
Q. I have full residence of my 8 month old daughter. My ex partner left when she was 2 months old. He is named on her birth certificate and she shares his last name. We've bin to mediation to try and post out contact but its not worked he turn's up for her when he want's and more occasions than not he never turns up at all. His family and i dont get on and i often get abuse from them. I.v never stopped him or his family seeing my daughter its just difficult when not feeling right leaving her with people i dont trust or are never civil to me. My question is can i get her christened without his concent? He's the same religion as me so that's not a issue. And also where do i stand about getting her a passport.
A. Hi there

It is difficult to make arrangements with people that we do not get along with. It is unfortunate that there is hostility between you but you are right to rise above it for as long as contact is in the best interests of your daughter.

As father shares parental responsibility with you, you should keep him in the loop on all milestones and important things in your daughter's life.
Imagine being in his shoes. Would you like to know if your daughter is being christened? You will not be breaking any laws if you do not tell him but you will be setting a precedent that he may follow. When your daughter is in his care, he may arrange important things and not care to inform you.
Informing him of the christening is not an open invitation for him to be involved or even invited, that is your decision.

Regarding passports, you may apply for one as you have parental responsibility. It is always advisable to inform the passport office that you have separated if there is a risk of your ex obtaining another passport and attempting to take your child abroad.

Happy new year
Q. Hi I am at the moment in middle of cwh with my ex partner.I have never stopped his seeing his daughter, in fact i travelled hundreds of miles just to make contact happen(before it went to court) more than he did for contact.the problem is he is either late or cancels at last minute or doesn't show...and now wants to involve his new but past girlfriend whom threatened myself with a text stating "i am gonna get a team of people and come through your door and rip your face off". at moment court does not see problem with this person being present while he has contact with our daughter,but has said our daughter does not go to persons place of residence or into the area(south queensferry edinburgh). He had contact with daughter on 31/12/2010 as arranged by court,he took our daughter to this house and she slept over night. though she said she had fun playing with daughter of person she said she was cold and hungry and lay awake not knowing what to do.our daughter is 5 hers!
A.
Q. The father of my daughter and I were never marrid but he is still down on her birth certifcate, we split 2years ago. He has never helped finacaily or even brought her baisc things e.g shoes. He is ment to have her 1 day a week but only turns up when and if he wants, sometimes he dont even let me know he not coming leaving our 3year old daughter sitting waiting all day. I have tried to encourage him to make an effort but he takes no notice, and he has been in trouble with the law alot since we split. It is now possible he may go to prison this week. My daughter tells me she dont want to see her dad and I am now at the point where I dont actualy want her to as I feel pushing her is going to be more damaging on her then the hole situation its self. would I be right to stop any acess, and would it be worth me telling him to take me to court? please help I am at my witts end
A. Hi

I'm sorry to hear about this. I understand that your daughter's father's name is registered on the birth certificate which means that he has Parental Responsibility for her. This is the right and duty to make important decisions in her life and generally be involved providing that his actions are in your daughter's best interests. Contact is the right of your daughter but it is your parental duty to ensure that she is healthy, happy and safe. If you feel that the current contact is not in her best interests because 1) it is not regular and consistent and / or 2) she is at risk of harm, then you are acting reasonably and within your parental duty to restrict the contact. How you do so needs to be addressed because you do not want to put yourself at risk of harm. If you cannot speak to your ex (perhaps because you are afraid of his reaction), then write him a letter or instruct a solicitor to do it for you. Until your issues are addressed, you are not being unreasonable by restricting contact. Your daughter's best interests must come first and if she is unhappy at the moment, changes need to be made. If he does not talk to you or be reasonable, he may apply to the court for a contact order. However, you will have the opportunity to object to the application and say no to contact until all of the issues have been examined by the professionals.

Hope that helps.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP
Q. My friends partner has just left her and her three year old son, and she is 35 weeks pregnant. He wants to have his son over night at his parents house and she does not want him to stay. Although she has agreed to him having him all day she feels that the child would be better off in his own home. They are not married so does she have the right to say no. The little boy is getting very confused as due to her hormones she is very emotional and his dad keeps letting him down!
A. If the father's name is registered on the birth certificate of the three year old then he has parental responsibility for him. Parental responsibility is the legal right and duty to be involved in the child's life including decision making. Not being married does not give your friend the right to say no. Being a parent and having a duty to protect her son gives her the right to say no. They share parental responsibility and therefore have equal rights to make the decisions. Has mother said why she
will not permit overnight contact at the parent's address? Is the child at risk of harm at his grandparents? Does your friend have any objections to the Grandparents seeing their son during the daytime? During this time, children need a sense of family around them unless there is a risk of harm.
If father is having limited contact and is sharing that with his family is that not good for their son? If Grandparents are not getting any contact, they may make their own application to the court.

If possible, both parents needs to talk about how much contact would be in their son's best interests, how much does he need to maintain his relationship with father and his family. Have they considered mediation?
Is there a third party who could mediate between them? Really, contact should be as much as their son needs providing it is in his best interests.
One night a week does not seem too much if he is a good father and there are no risks of harm. Does it matter where they are as long as they are together and father is taking good care of him? When the baby comes along, your friend may welcome it!

Best Regards
Q. I have been separated from my ex partner for 3 years now we have 3 children. I have never stopped him seeing the children but he cant seem to stick to any arrangments we make sometimes we go weeks with out seeing him then he comes back and kicks up a fuss over seeing them and he has never paid me any money towards the children even though I have left it up to the csa to get child maintenance payments for me.we both disagree on what rights we have for the children I have full time care of them does this mean i can say when and what times he can have them ? and does he have a right to plan things with the children on different days to days he has access without consulting me first?

A. As the main carer for the children you need to act in their best interests.
How do the children feel about the ad hoc contact? Do they feel let down?
Are they made promises that he cannot keep or is it a case of Daddy turning up when he wants to and they all have fun together. You need to weigh up
what the children need. The arrangements also need to be right for you
because you are the main carer. If it is better for you and the children to have fixed times and a routine then I wouldn't hesitate in suggesting that
to him. You are not being unreasonable. Try mediation to agree some times
for regular contact. It is sad that he can disappear for weeks without seeing the children. That must be disappointing for them. Ultimately the question is 'Is it in the children's best interests to see their father?'
It is not easy terminating contact because ad hoc contact for children may still be better than no contact at all. You need to trust your judgement.
If you feel that they are happier not seeing him because they are always being let down then suggest no contact until he cooperates with a contact plan.

Perhaps try giving him some times for contact and telling him that no other dates will be permitted without prior agreement. The difficulty I suspect, is when the children disagree with you because they want to see him.

No maintenance is very frustrating but not a reason to deny contact.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP

Q. Hello, I have been seperated from my ex husband for over 2 years now due to domestic abuse (which he firmly disbutes)He is extremely controlling and manulipulative however i have never stopped him or his
family having regular contact with our daughter. However he is in the armed forces and we can not have set dates etc for arrangements so he contacts me when he wants to see her ( with a good few days notice). He
picks her up from my mum house due to when i would drop her in public places I felt extremely threatened and he would always be hours late. However this has not changed, he is never on time to pick her up or drop her of and often leave my family waiting up to 4 hours for him. Is there anything I can do? as I do not want to stop them having contact but this is just unacceptable and unfair on our 5yr old daughter and it is not a one off, its been for 2 years now.
A. Hi

It sounds as though you have been doing a stirling job in facilitating contact under these circumstances so far. Your daughter's best interests come first and being kept waiting for so long is unacceptable in particular, outside in public places possibly in cold weather conditions. It also sounds like you still fear for your safety. My advice would be to try and open a dialogue with your ex and his family about the current unacceptable arrangements. If that does not work, consider telling him that you will wait a maximum of 20mins and that if he does not arrive, you will need to take your daughter back home for her own well being. I do not think that this suggestion is unreasonable. Your ex may then consider being a bit more reliable if he is keen on seeing his daughter. Try not to be bullied, if you fear for your safety and prefer for a solicitor to write to him accordingly, please take that option. Safety and well being is paramount.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP
Q. Hello, My daughter lives with myself and my partner. My ex has parental responsibility as is on the birth certificate. We were never married and my daughter has my surname. Can I change my daughters surname to my new partners without my ex's consent? I have asked him for the name change and he says he will only agree to it if his name is double barreled with my new partners. I do not see this as an option as she was never given his surname in the first place. Can my new partner have pr granted by me without ex's consent. Ex see's daughter once a week. This was suggested by myself to the court and the court granted this. Ex wants to see daughter more often and have her stay over. Where do I stand as I have refused this for the moment as daughter is only 3 years old and at school
all week, so overnight stays not possible. Ex left the relationship when daughter was 10 months old. then it came to light that he had been dated someone else for a few months befor he uppped and left. Is this not desertion?
A. Hi there

Can you change the surname without consent? - No, I'm afraid not. You will need the permission of all those with parental responsibility before making a name change. However, if you do not get consent, you may apply to the court for permission. I agree with you that if the child didn't have your ex's name in the first place it should not make any difference however, there is a difference between having mommy's name and having mommy's Partner's name. The court will need to weigh up whether it is in your child's best interests to have the new surname. For example, are you planning to get married? Do you have any more children who will have the new surname? It will be a balancing exercise between the child's right to retain a link to her father especially as she has an existing relationship with him, versus, the right to feel part of the family unit by sharing the same surname as mother, siblings and possibly new step parent. Double barrelled does sound like a good compromise to save on legal fees and animosity at court.

Can new Partner have PR without ex's consent? - No. Consent is required by all parties with PR. If you get married, your Partner has the option of adopting or applying for a Residence Order both of which will again require ex's consent.

Overnight contact - If there is a disagreement, your ex may apply to the court for contact to be increased. The court will need to assess whether that is in the child's best interests to stay overnight with your ex.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP

Q. My 9 year old daughter lives with me due to me witnessing her mother hurting her when she was drunk. she has gone on holiday with my girlfriends mother. I have informed my ex wife but now she is saying that
I am not aloud to let her go anywhere with out her permission and I must give her a contact number. I dont want to do this as my ex wife is very
abusive on the phone to anyone that is conected to myself. Do i have to obay her every order has she still tries to rule my life?
A. Hi there

If you have a Residence Order for your daughter, you may take her out of the country for up to a month without your wife's permission, otherwise, consent is needed if presumably, your ex still shares Parental Responsibility with you. Strictly, no consent is committing the crime of Child Abduction.

As regards the phone number, I think that you are acting within the realms of reasonableness in refusing to give a number. You are the main carer for your daughter and if there is an emergency, your ex will find out through you. It does seem inappropriate for your ex to be telephoning your current Partner whilst they are on hoiliday, especially considering the history of abuse. I feel that you should be the first point of call for your ex if she has any questions. She needs to trust your ability to ensure that your daughter is well cared for. She also needs to trust that you will communicate with her if there is a problem. As a compromise, you could ask your daughter to phone her mother periodically throughout the holiday to confirm that she is ok? I'm not sure what the relationship is but it's just a suggestion. Your ex is still the mother of your daughter and providing that she means well, you should try to communicate with her to keep relations amicable.

Hope that helps.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP
Q. Hi I am looking for advice on my situation me and my wife married in malta in may 1998 we have been separated for 5 years in april 2011 I have been living back in England for the past 4 and a half years and she is still living in malta in december 2009 she had a baby with another man and I have just found out she has put my name on the chlids birth certifacte. Can she leagly do this? as she is saying that as we are still married maltease law says it has to be my name if you could get back to me as soon as you can I would be very grateful many thanks mr oxford
A. Hi there
I regret that I cannot advise about the law in Malta, you will need to find a solicitor who specialises in family law in Malta or better still, contact the Registrar of births in Malta to see if you can dispute the entry. In this country, a mother can enter your name on the certificate without your consent providing that you are married at the time. You can still apply for this to be changed when a paternity test has proven that you are not the father or if there is an agreement by your wife to remove your name as father.
Do telephone or e-mail a lawyer in Malta, your question is simple so you may get a quick free answer over the telephone.
As for the marriage, providing that the ceremony was a legal ceremony in Malta, you can issue divorce proceedings in England based on the fact that you have been separated for 5 years in April 2011. If you wife consents and if you want to move things along, you may even issue a petition based on two years separation straight away.
Best regards,

Harjit Sarang
www.bestsolicitorsllp.co.uk
Q. If the mother puts the father's name on the birth certificate without his permission is she breaking the law and what are the consequences?
A. Hi there, I'm not sure whether the couple are married.

If the mother and father are married, mother may attend alone and enter her husband's details as father. From speaking to my local Registrar, I understand that if they are not married, the only way that she would have been able to register him as father would be by providing a statutory declaration from him or a court order declaring his parentage. My advice is for him to attend before the registrar at the office where the birth was registered and ask for details of the registration. Specifically, how did the Registrar satisfy him/herself that father's details could be entered in his absence. If it is the case that a statutory declaration has been forged then perjury may have been committed which is criminal offence carrying penalties. Either way, the first step is to make an appointment to see the Registrar to get it investigated.


Best Regards
Q. My ex husband sees the children under contact order but is saying he will be taking the children without my permission at an earlier time by taking them from their childcare. i want to avoid a scene- he has had no contact with my childminder. is it kidnap/abduction ? will a court take a dim view if he attempts this?
A. Hi there

I presume that the contact order stipulates the time of the contact.
Whilst, one needs to be flexible for certain situations, the times should be adhered to. The children need to have a routine and know when to expect Daddy.

Have you told the childminder about the contact times so that she knows what times to make the children available? I know that it puts her in an awkward situation, but if on one occasion she makes clear that she will keep the children until the given time, perhaps he will get the message.
Presumably, the childminder will have them doing activities or it may be meal time. Your ex needs to be encouraged to stick to the terms of the order and call you if he needs to collect the children early for some reason. You will then take a view and let the childminder know if you agree to the change.

One has to remain flexible if other things are planned. Each parent needs to be encouraged to respect the terms of the order because they are put in place for a reason. If he constantly ignores / seeks to change the terms of the order, the court will frown upon him. He needs to show the court that he can put the children's needs first and do what is right for them. Does he bring them back on time? Please keep a diary if he is constantly collecting early and returning late. Sometimes it may be for genuine reasons i.e. if he is stuck in traffic. It's something that you need to
keep an eye on.

I would not say that it is child abduction or kidnapping but he is strictly in breach of the order if times are given. One must always attempt to have some flexibility if possible. You may find that you need him to pick them up early one day? Essentially, the terms of the order should be adhered to unless on the odd ocassion flexibility is needed. Perhaps, ask your
solicitor to contact him if he is continuing to collect early.

Hope that helps.

Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP
Q. Five years after divorce my ex is being made redundant. He is telling me that I am not entitled to any share of this. But our divorce papers say he is to pay me 'in accordance with CSA regulations' so I believe I am entitled to a % of the contractual
redundancy pay. Can you tell me who is correct? Thank you Elaine
A. Hi there
The Child Support Agency has it's own regulations on what it considers as forming part of income. Dividends and bonuses do form part of income but I'm not sure about redundancy payments.

I think it depends on whether the redundancy is contractual or statutory. Also whether he took the redundancy voluntarily may also be relavant. As the court order states, you must follow CSA regulations.

The simplest answer to your question is for you to contact the CSA for clarification. Get the details in writing and send them to your ex. If he still refuses to pay, make an appliation to the CSA and it will collect what is due on your behalf. It may be that they will want to see a P60 at the end of the financial year or copy payslips showing the payment received. At that point adjustments to your payment may be made accordingly.

Sorry I can't be more specific!

Q. I am in the process of separating from my wife. we have 2 children, 2 and 10 months. I don't think she will be very amicable as it was my decision to end the marriage. I want to see my children as much as possible and would like to know my rights regarding shared parenting and I have been told that she may have a right to stay in our house until the children are 16. Is this right? and if so how would that work as we have a very large mortgage and would struggle to get another house. If you could advise me on where to go for more detailed advice over the phone I would be very grateful.

A. Hi there

Where there are children, the court will always encourage parties to reach a financial settlement so that the children's housing needs are met. If it is financially possible to retain the house for their benefit then this may be done. It rather depends on the size of the matrimonial pot now and in the near future. It also depends on whether the children 'need' to be in that very house and at 2 and 10 months that doesn't seem to be the case. In many one income households, retaining the house is not possible because as you have said, you cannot finance a house for the next 14 years in addition to housing yourself on a single income.

If your wife is working or has the prospect of getting a reasonable income in the next few years and if she can take over the running costs of the house without much assistance from you, it is a possibility. If the house is retained, you would negotiate a share division and a time for you to receive your share. The triggers may include her re marriage, cohabitation,
agreement or the youngest child attaining majority.

If the running costs are too high and there is no prospect of your wife contributing AND if your income/savings position is not such that you can re house reasonably, it's probably not a possibility to retain the house.

Also, if you are looking at 'sharing care' of the children, you too will need somewhere for them to stay overnight with you. The worst case scenario is selling and both renting if there is not enough for two houses. Could she downsize?

Ultimately, financial settlements have to be fair for both parties and provide adequately for the children. Some would say that having somewhere smaller to stay during Mommy time and Daddy time is better than having agreat house with Mommy but a small bedsit with Daddy?

If you don't think that your wife will be amicable then mediation may not be appropriate although you may be surprised. Try and suggest it as a start.
As for telephone advice, phone me or drop me an e-mail!

Best regards
Q. I currently have a court order in place granting me access to my 2 children at a Contact Centre for 2 hours for 3 out of 4 Saturdays. I was supposed to see the children on 17/07/10, 24/07/10 and 31/07/10 with
the 07/08/10 being the rest week for my ex. This was agreed in court.
However, my ex contacted mediation last week to advise that she was going on holiday with my children and would not be able to make contact on 24/07/10. As we were only in court on 13/07/10, and this was not mentioned, I disputed this. Mediation have advised that they have the right to grant my ex holidays without prior notice given to the court, however my lawyer has advised that the court needs to be pre advised on any occasions where contact will be missed and hence she has now broken contact. I am confused as to who is in the right here, and do not want to take this any further if it turns out that mediation do have the power to grant holidays. Can you please advise what I should do?


A. I'm not sure whether you mean CAFCASS rather than mediation? CAFCASS are appointed by the court to assist on Children Act applications. They quite often get involved in contact arrangements and help facilitate contact etc.
The only way to overrule a court order is by agreement or by getting another order. Mother has a duty to facilitate contact as per the court order unless doing so puts the children at risk of harm. It does seem incredibly unfair that mother has arranged something on your weekend without prior agreement. If Cafcass are assisting at the contact sessions and are due to report to the court, they can make suggestions about contact. Have they suggested that she make up the missed wknd?

However, at this stage with the holiday presumably being booked, the question for the court will be what is in the best interests of the children. If the holiday will be great fun and productive for them and they want to go, perhaps your contact be on the 4th wknd? Do the children want to go on the holiday? Will they resent you for not being able to go?
Perhaps the court can be invited to make clear that in future contact should take place as per the order and mother should only arrange holidays on her weekends. Also, if contact is missed without good reason, it should be re scheduled especially as it seems so limited. Is mother refusing to re schedule. Do you think this is an attempt to frustrate contact?

I'm not sure what a court application will achieve at this stage if the holiday has been booked and contact can be rescheduled. Can you seek the 'mediators'/cafcass assistance to reschedule the missed weekend so that the children have best of both?

I agree that it's unfair because you too may have made special plans. When next in court, this point should be made clear.

I hope that helps
Q. My ex has a court order for access to my son,my son does not want to see his father,what do i do?

A. Hi, thank you for the question.

Contact is the right of the child. However, sometimes our children need encouraging to accept what is in their best interests. For example, if he said "Mommy I don't want to go to school", what would you do? You need to assess whether your son is capable of making that decision and why he is making it. Maintaining a relationship with parents is important unless doing so would put you at risk of harm. Not having any contact and ending a relationship is a big decision that will impact on the rest of his life.
Explore why the relationship has broken down and if there is any way of
repairing it with or without support from parenting organisations.

Your ex has a court order which means that the court has decided that contact is in your son's best interests if only for the interim period. If contact does not take place, you need to explain to the court that your son did not want to attend and the reasons that he gave you if any. At this point an independent third party (children and families court officer) may be instructed to report to the court what your sons wishes and feeling are.
He/she will try to find out why your son is rejecting father and explore ways to make changes if possible. The older your son is, the easier this
will be.

Essentially, if you believe that your son has real concerns and reservations, you need to protect him and ask that the concerns be addressed before contact takes place. Your role is to facilitate contact where it is in your son's best interest to do so. I think at this stage you need to alert father and the court of the situation. Father may be able to address the concerns or, the matter returned to court for the court to investigate and order as appropriate. If possible, work together to address the issue.


Best Regards

Harjit Sarang, Partner Family Law
BEST Solicitors LLP

Q. my partner has a baby with another woman, and the mother wont let my partner see the baby. she says that she can decide whether the baby sees him or not. we don't know what to do, can you tell us what my partners rights are, can she stop him from seeing the baby, he wants to have a relationship with her. thank you.

A. Thank you for your question. If your Partner's name is registered on the birth certificate, he has parental responsibility. Parental responsibility includes legal obligations and duties in respect of the child. He has the right to be involved in the child's life including important decision making on schools, religion, surname etc. If his name is not on the birth certificate, he can obtain parental responsibility by mother's agreement or court order. He will need to show a commitment to the child and it must be in the child's best interests. Parental responsibility does not give him any 'automatic rights' to have contact but it should be considered if he wants to be involved in her life.

Specifically regarding contact, the child has the right to have a relationship with her father unless doing so will put her at risk of harm.
If mother is not being co operative, try inviting her to mediation services.
If she refuses to attend, I regret that the only other option is to apply to the court for a contact order. The court will appoint a CAFCASS (children and welfare officer) who will initially try to help them reach an agreement about contact (conciliation appointment) and if no agreement can be reached, investigate the issues to make a recommendation to the court as to what contact should take place.

Unless there are allegations against your Partner that put the child at risk of harm, I cannot see why contact would be refused.

To summarise, invite mother to discuss contact. If she refuses, try and find out her reasons and address them if possible. If there is no progress, apply to the court for a contact order.

Hope that helps.

Best regards

Harjit
Q. I am seperated from my son's mum, and he is always misbehaving when he is with her, he comes to us every weekend and is never any trouble, he has been expelled from 3 schools now and has started
thieving,and i feel it's because his mum is always out, and very rarely checks him, she asked me for help in the matter and i got him into a school near
my house, where my wife is at home so would be there to make sure he isn't left in the house alone like he is with his mum, and hopefully i could discipline him etc... but she won't let me do that because that
would mean she would have him weekends and she wouldn't be able to go out as much, is there a way around this i don't want him ending up with a criminal record or worse, but feel it will happen in her care.

A. Hello

You must be given credit for putting your son first. You have tried to make a sensible suggestion to address the issue and it has been rejected.
The way forward would be to invite mother to mediation to try and reach an agreement or failing that, apply to the court for an order that your son live with you. A Residence Order. Importantly, part of the court process is to investigate what the current problem is and how it can best be addressed to make life better for your son. What do the schools say? If it is the case that he is misbehaving as a direct result of mother's parenting then, you stand a good chance of succeeding because the court will make whichever order is necessary to safeguard your son's best interests. It may be that mother needs parenting assistance in which case that will be explored in the court arena. If mother can turn things around with assistance, would that be preferable than a change of residence? Just a thought. If it is the case that mother is neglecting your son, then residence to you is probably the best option. It would be interesting to know what your son's opinion of all of this is considering his age and understanding.

Best regards

Q. In 2006, both my ex and myself were diagnosed with full blown AIDS. In 2007 and 2009 we had a son - both HIV free with help of local Health Service. In December last year, she made it intolerable for me to stay with her so I left her house and moved back into my own. After she then threatened to take the children so far away I would not be able to see them, I filed for a residence order. Currently they stay
with me Sat midday to Monday midday - neither of us are working currently. She is denying me further access. I have said I would be happy to come down from full residence to joint residence with time
and benefit shared 50/50 between us. This has been turned down by my ex who thinks I only want them
for the benefit money. I have letters from my consultant saying it is 'likely' we will have a reduced lifespan due to the HIV and that I am
worried about precious time with my children.

A. Hello

Any decision made by the court on a child related matter should be based on what is in the best interests of the child.

Shared care does not have to be 50:50. It is whatever is logistically possible and better for the children. Some children have holidays with one parent and term time with another parent because they live too far apart and schooling would not allow anything else. This is a form of 'shared care'.
If you live close to each other, it would be easier to have more time and possibly a 50:50 shared care arrangement. However, amongst other things detailed in the 'welfare checklist', the court will have to consider the age of the children, the distance between you from a commuting point of view and any disruption for the children in doing that commute regularly. All of this is weighed up against their right to maintain a relationship with you.
I would also point out that when considering one's ability to parent, the court will also assess the willingness to facilitate contact with the other parent. In that regard, the court should be asked to assess mother's reasons for moving so far away (if indeed she does go) and her reluctance to
allow more contact. You may want to consider asking the court to make a
prohibited steps order preventing mother from moving before a decision is made on residence. Once a parent moves with a child, it is difficult (but not impossible) for the court to make an order for them to return. I am sorry to hear about your diagnosis and prognosis but perhaps that is a reason to live close by and support one another. I am sure you agree that it would ultimately be better for the children if you had a good relationship and managed parenting together. Perhaps you could consider mediation services?

As said, if you are both pretty equal in terms of capability to parent and live close enough, there is no reason why shared care cannot be an option.
Good luck.
Q. My partner and I separated 4yrs ago. We have a 5yr old daughter. I am constantly asking him to see her more often as at the minute it is arount 3/4 moths between visits. His origional reason for not seeing her is that his new wife doesnt like it but this has now changed and he is saying it is because our 5yr old daughter does not treat his wife as an adult! He is saying that he will only see her if he can come to my home and visit her here. Am i within my rights to refuse this. I have no problem with him coming to collect our daughter or when he brings her home. My daughter also wants to go to his house as he and his wife had a baby last november and our daughter hasnt even seen her stepsister yet. Am i braking the law by not letting him visit my home? Thankyou x
A. If you believe that contact is in your daughter's best interests, your obligation is to facilitate it. That means, make your daughter available for the session. This obligation does not extend to providing accommodation. Can he not take her out for a few hours? There are plenty of things to do with a 5 yr old and because contact is so infrequent, a few hours out somewhere nice will make her feel special.

With regards to the quality of contact, it is sad that father is not seeing her more frequently and needs to be encouraged to maintain the relationship. Life may be tricky with a new wife and newborn but the reasons given by him seem like silly excuses. If his new wife does not want your daughter in her house, this may lead to bigger problems for him in the future. It is incredible that the new wife does not like your 5 yr old because she does not treat her like an adult. It reminds me of a lady who had the nerve to tell me off on an aircraft because my 9 month old was crying. When she stood up, I saw that she must have been at least 7 months pregnant!

It sounds to me like you are doing your best to keep father in your daughter's life and that is great. However, if he wanted to maintain contact with his daughter he would be forthright and do so.

Ultimately, if father does not want to see his daughter more than once every few months and is now making silly excuses about her being in his new home, perhaps it's not worth encouraging him. The worst case scenario is a resentful father having contact with his daughter. That may not be much fun for her.

You are not breaking the law by not allowing contact in your home.

Best regards
Q. Im going to court tomorrow for residence of my 4 grandchildren, their father is also doing the same, they were left in my care by my daughter who is having mental health issues and in agreement with social services. The father was physically abusive to the children whilst with my daughter and they seperated after nspcc were informed of this. I have been told that he will most likely get residence of the children as he is the father, is this right ?
A. Hello there. Nobody has an automatic right to a Residence Order in respect of the children. As you are aware, a Residence Order is an Order stating where the children should live. In whose care they should be. The legislation is totally geared towards making necessary orders that are in the best interests of the children. In order to make a decision, the court needs to consider a statutory criteria that includes (i) physical, emotional and psychological needs (ii) risk of harm (iii) capability of person to provide adequate care and (iv) sex, age and characteristics of each child, amongst other things and in no particular order.

The court will appoint a Children and Families Officer (CAFCASS) to investigate. The Officer will file a report to the court making recommendations as to what order is in the child's best interests.

Nobody can guarantee that you will be awarded a Residence Order. From what you have said, if there are no concerns or allegations about your care of the children and if father has not changed, it seems that you are the better person to provide full time care for the children. However, the children need to maintain a relationship with their parents unless it is not in their best interests to do so, commonly due to risk of harm. There are cases of parents who were not good carers in the past but, who have worked hard to reform. Parents who have seen the error of their ways and over time are able to satisfy the court that they have changed and can now provide risk free care for their children. If that is the case, there are merits to the father's application.

It is very difficult to give you a definitive answer without full facts. The court looks for the best person to provide full time care for the children bearing in mind the statutory criteria.

Best Regards
Q. My daughter lives with me (her father) and has done for the last 2 yrs, mum has now decided she wants her to go live with her what is the
chance of this happening?
A. Thank you for your question. I do not know whether your ex partner disappeared for two years or was around having contact. I will assume the worst case scenario that she disappeared.

I advise that you speak to each other and try to reach a solution. Depending on the age of your daughter, you will need to take her views into account. In the event that an agreement cannot be reached you will need to apply to the court for an order determining who your daughter should live with. This is a Residence Order. Whilst the application is being considered, you will need to consider an interim order preventing her from removing your daughter from your care if there is a threat to do so.

A children and families officer (CAFCASS) will be appointed by the court to prepare a report recommending what is in the best interests of your daughter. That is, who should have residence and how much contact the other party should have, if any. The investigation may take up to 12 weeks and refers to a statutory criteria set for such applications. The CAFCASS Officer will speak to you, your ex partner, your daughter (depending on age)and any other relevant parties in order to make a recommendation. Amongst
other things, the CAFCASS officer will need to know why your ex Partner disappeared for two years, whether she had any contact during that period, how that impacted on your daughter and how your daughter feels about her seeing her mother again. Your ex Partner's intentions and commitment will need to be investigated as will the impact on your daughter if her mother
were to disappear again. I expect that the court will want to see a slow re introduction and then monitor contact and its impact on your daughter over a period of time. Contact will gradually increase if in your daughter's best interests and then residence reconsidered in future if your ex-Partner still requests it.

A shared residence order is not uncommon these days. Unless there are risks of harm, children benefit from a strong relationship with both parents. If logistically possible, residence is shared between mother and father on a 4 day 3 day cycle. Ultimately, the court will make an order best for the
child. If your ex partner accepts that she made a wrong decision in her life and is now determined to change and be part of your daughter's life, the court is likely to support her if your daughter would benefit from it.

I reiterate that her reasons will be investigated and she will need to prove her intentions and commitment. Ultimately, it must be the right decision for your daughter.

It is unfair that a parent can disappear from a child's life leaving the other parent to change their world to cope, then return and make demands.
However, it is not for the court to punish that parent by refusing contact,because that may not be best for the child. The court must do whatever is
necessary to help the child maintain a healthy relationship with both parents whilst assuring that the child is not at risk of harm. Risks include emotional and psychological harm if that parent returns only to disappear again.

If your ex partner was in your daughter's life having regular and meaningful contact, you may want to consider shared residence.

Best Regards
Q. Do I need my ex husbands consent to have my daughter christened?
A. If your ex-husband has parental responsibility for your daughter, he has a legal right to be involved in all of the decisions about important things in her life such as being christened. How much you communicate with each other depends on your relationship. In terms of the law, you don't need his permission. However, if he does not want her to be christened and there is a disagreement, he can apply to the court for a 'prohibited steps order'.
This is an order preventing you from going through with it until the court has decided whether being christened is in her best interests. This would be unusual and without much merit on his part. Some parents have different religious beliefs and therefore, the fairest approach is to teach the children about both faiths until they are old enough to make a choice for themselves.

As regards the Church, I'm not sure whether permission is required.

Best Regards