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familylawexpert, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 311
Experience:  Substantial experience (14yrs +) in divorce, financial cases, cohabitation, pre-nuptial agreements and civil partnerships.
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My 9 year old son does not want to see his father. Can he be

Customer Question

My 9 year old son does not want to see his father. Can he be forced?
He has been to counselling for anxieties/ tics nervous behavior. He cries at night and feels he is never treated fairly. He states quite clearly that he doesn't want to leave his home, his mummy and his little sister. I have been advised he has rights to choose, is this true?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  familylawexpert replied 4 years ago.

My name is Mac. I can help you with your question. First I need a bit more information:

- when did you and the father stop living together?
- is there a court order currently regulating your son's contact with the father?
- if there is no court order, what were the arrangements agreed between you (if any) for contact?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
We separated when my son was 1. We have never been to court so there is no contact order.
We agreed every other wk end although this had always been very flexible. My son has gone weeks and sometimes months without contact. He started so ask to cut down it not to go over a year ago as they don't have a close relationship but over the last 6 months he is really getting upset. He just doesn't want to be there. He was due to go on Friday and refused, he plucked up the courage to say in front of his father but his father did not accept this and began shouting and. Showing angry behaviour which has really scared my son. He said he will be back this Friday and he will take him which we are both worried about. What do I do to protect my son from this terrible upset. Does his opinion count?
Expert:  familylawexpert replied 4 years ago.

There is no order, so you will not be in breach of anything if the arrangements change although, of course, if they change and the father does not agree with them, then he can make an application to the court for a contact order.

If he does that, your son's views will be heard, but his views will not determine the outcome. The weight that the court attach to his views will depend on the maturity with which the court considers those views have been expressed (amongst other things), but it definitely will not be a case simply of your son saying something and the court ordering it.

Ultimately, you have to take a view about what is in your son's best interests. For example, is there a real reason why he does not want to see his father or is he perhaps picking up on his perceptions that you have negative feelings about the father or the father's contact, and your son is trying (subconsciously or otherwise) to please you. I'm not saying that any of that is actually happening, obviously I have no specific insight into your family dynamics, but I do have experience of many cases where a child's initial disinclination towards contact is not necessarily either what is best for him, or perhaps even what he or she really wants. A court would be weighing these factors up.

You and the father have evidently already strayed from the original agreement. Perhaps you could structure some suggestion as a way forward - perhaps telephone contact, or slightly less frequent actual contact - and see if the father will go for that. Ultimately, as things stand, you can impose whatever arrangements you think are best for your son, and it will be up to the father to choose whether he feels sufficiently strongly to make an application to the court. However, both of you will need to have in mind that your son is too young to make the decisions himself (in the court's eyes).

I hope that is helpful. If you would like me to clarify anything, please ask. If not, I would be grateful if you could rate my answer.


Expert:  familylawexpert replied 4 years ago.

I notice that you have not yet rated my question - is there some further clarification that I can offer you on your question?