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Ask Clare Your Own Question

Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 33276
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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My wife and I have two children aged 2.5 and 5 and are

Customer Question

Hi,
My wife and I have two children aged 2.5 and 5 and are in the process of getting divorced. Following an initially amicable breakup and a verbal agreement that we would be civil and friendly and share residency with the children, my wife has chosen to cut off contact with her as of yesterday. This follows an argument we had over the weekend and has made me concerned about her mental state and whether she is likely to be stable enough to care for my children.
We have been married for 4.5 years and together for 7 and she has been suffering from either PTSD or a personality disorder for about 5 of those years, but has never stuck to any formal mental health care. She has frequent angry out bursts, accompanied by swearing, in front of the kids and has lots of swings between being riotously happy and mournfully depressed. Two weeks ago, she took herself into A&E as she was feeling suicidal, so I am quite worried about the effect this will have on how she raises the children.
There is a lot more behind this story that I would be able to elaborate on, but I wanted to give some of the most pressing concerns straight away. I am ultimately looking for some advice on the best way to proceed to try to gain sole residency for my children and your view on the strength of my case.
Thank you,
Michael
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Clare replied 10 months ago.
HiThank you for your questionMy name is***** shall do my best to help you but I need some further details firstHow has the care of the children been shared between you until now?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thanks Clare.My wife and I separated in October, so prior to that we shared child care equally each day. Since separation (which coincided with me working in London whilst she and the children live in Cheshire), I have been providing the same financial support as I always have, paying all bills and suchlike. Besides this, I work from home at least one day each week, so am with them in our flat in Cheshire at least three days each week. Over the Christmas period, I had sole responsibility for the girls for around 10 days, as she went abroad with her partner.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I should add that whilst I am there, my wife is not in the flat with us for more than a day at a time. She spends this time with her partner.
Expert:  Clare replied 10 months ago.
Have you had any specific concerns about her care of the children in this time?Will she be living with her new partner eventually?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I have had concerns about her ability to care for the children, rather than any specific concerns, other than her lack of stability. However, the care of the children is good because she employs two au pairs to look after them for almost the entire day. She started doing this in about July last year, because she could not cope with looking after them herself. I have never been in favour of using help for the children, but was always threatened with divorce if I did not go along with this.Her intent is to live with her new partner and for the au pairs to move with them to continue providing support to raise the children. They are currently looking for a place, but at present we are sharing the flat we have together.
Expert:  Clare replied 10 months ago.
Do you intend to change your pattern of work?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
If required.I am originally from Essex and my immediate and extended family all live around there. If I were to get sole residency, I would look to move the children down here with my family and I. I have a house that I rent out that we could stay in if needed, but I would plan to live with my mother for a while, so she could help with the children while I am at work.
Expert:  Clare replied 10 months ago.
Are you willing to remain in your current area if need be?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
If required, I could move closer, but I would need to find a new job in the local area. However, I would prefer for us to be near all of our family and friends here, to provide support to me and the girls. We have only been in Cheshire for 18 months.It might be useful to add that my wife does not gave any family in Cheshire to provide support, nor does she have any in the UK. She is originally from India and came back with me to this country in 2012. We met whilst I was living and working in India.
Expert:  Clare replied 10 months ago.
Does your ex work?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
No, she is not currently working.
Expert:  Clare replied 10 months ago.
Did she have any treatment for the mental health problems?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
About 2.5 years ago she was in the Priory for two weeks, following a crisis in which she was contemplating suicide. After that, she did not keep up with the treatment as she did not like her psychologist. Last year, after 6 months or more awaiting treatment on the NHS, she went to her first appointment and told the doctor she was fine and so was discharged immediately. She has a combination of complex post traumatic stress disorder and a borderline personality and has highs and lows. This has never gone away, she just got closer to admitting she had an issue on certain occasions.
Expert:  Clare replied 10 months ago.
I have to be realistic with you - whilst there is a good chance of your obtaining a shared care order regarding the children this is less likely if you go ahead with your planto move to Essex.The fact that there is evidence of her mental health problems assists you - but the fact that the children are well cared for and you have felt able to work in Londondoes not help - not does your plan to move in with your mother.The starting point is to discuss matters with your ex using Family mediation to try and make arrangements for the long term and discuss the possibility of moving back The longer you have the children in your care the better - so take every opportunity to care for them that you can.You can read more on this websitehttp://theparentconnection.org.uk/I hope that this is of assistance please ask if you need further detailsClare

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