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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34105
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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I am a father with 2 sons, currently aged 11 and 13. The mother

Resolved Question:

I am a father with 2 sons, currently aged 11 and 13. The mother and I separated approx. 8 years ago. I have always been actively involved in their upbringing. I pay child maintenance based on the boys staying at my house 2 nights a week. In reality, they stay 4 nights, most weeks. The days are recorded on a calendar. I have never brought up the issue of over paying maintenance or tried to reduce it as I have always felt that the mother would then restrict access in an effort to increase the payments again. Having frequent access to the boys has always been the priority.
I have been frustrated by not officially having "care" of the boys as they don't reside with me and as such I have been left out of the decision making process with regard to their well being/ education etc. For example, the boys changed junior schools some years ago and I was only informed (by the school, and by mistake) 2 weeks before the change happened. The change in schools was for poor reasons that were not in their best interest. This situation occurs on a regular basis because, as parents we have very different ideas on how the boys should be raised.
Both boys now wish to live with me, the eldest is quite adamant, and has been for a number of years. I feel that my youngest son would have difficulty with the guilt he would feel towards his mother. Both boys understandably fear telling their mother of the desired change.
This is where I become unsure. Once I inform the mother of the boys, and my wishes, can she restrict my access to them? Can she cut down on the number of times they stay with me? How long will the process take? - I'm concerned about the emotional pressure/ guilt during any upheaval.
On the financial side, am I obliged to still pay maintenance to the mother during the process of changing their residence?
Finally, how do I initiate a change in residence, I'm sure the mother will not agree to it and will fight any such action.

Regards

XXXXX XXXXX
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will do my best to help you
Your starting point is to offer to discuss matters with your ex using Family mediation (www.familymediationhelpline.co.uk) using a Mediator trained to also work with young people
This will ensure that your children's wishes will be heard by someone who is independent and this will inform the negotiations.
If the children stand by their wishes but the negotiations fail then you will have to apply to the court for a Residence or a shared residence order
Given their ages the court will be most likely to abide by the wishes of your sons.
Obviously during the court process there may be problems with contact - although since this would reflect badly on her case she may be sensible.
You will need to pay maintenance until the matter is resolved
Given their ages the issue of official residence is of much less important but clearly that is a matter for you
Please ask if you need further details
Clare
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