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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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Ex wife is moving 2hrs away with daughter

Customer Question

My ex wife has decided to move over 2hrs away with our daughter who is 6. This is a very fast decision with us first becoming aware they were thinking about it in march. They changed their minds to a location an hr away last week, then decided to stay close to us and now have just dropped the bombshell they are moving 2hrs away in 6 weeks.
We have an informal 50/50 custody arrangement that has been in place for over 3 years. We have our daughter 3 nights a week. This has been a mixture of weekend and week nights.
Now they are moving they are suggesting just 4 nights a month over two weekends with more time in the holdiays - however this is no where near the 50/50 agreed. They suggest this Is over two weekends and have said they do not want to share travel costs or journeys between where we live and they are moving to.

How do we take this forward?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  familylawexpert replied 3 years ago.

My name is Mac. I can help you with your question. First I need to ask one question of my own: are they suggesting that she changes school?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Yes - she is currently in woolton primary school in liverpool and is in the top sets for both English and maths. She is excelling in school. They have already identified two schools in the area they are considering and we have been invited to view them. Both are excellent schools.

Our concern is not per se on them moving but the fact they seem to think this means they can automatically change a long standing custody arrangement. We have already said we would be happy to reverse the situation and for my daughter to remain with us in the week.

Their aim in moving is to be in a village (there are plenty near liverpool they could move to) and because they want to be near to mums parents. However to change the 2hr drive to her parents they are inflicting a 2hr drive for all parties between Shrewsbury and liverpool.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I should add they have suggested more time in all holidays to make up for missed time but this does not come close to the 156 days of 3 nights a week currently in place. however in the past she has blocked me taking Scarlett on holiday for more than 5 days
Expert:  familylawexpert replied 3 years ago.

The starting point is that neither of you can change your daughter's current school without either the other's agreement or an order of the Court. On the basis of what you have said so far (although I am sure there is more detail), there is no obvious urgency, and in the normal run of things I would not expect that a Court order would be obtained in time for the start of the next school year - assuming there have been no proceedings yet.

However, you clearly have had some discussions with them already, and it appears that there may be some room for give and take on both sides. However, what they have offered so far is evidently not enough to make a change in arrangements palatable for you. You could consider starting by going back to her and saying that you do not agree that your daughter should move schools. Where you go from there depends ultimately on what you want to achieve. Assuming your ex is set on moving, then your daughter is going to end up being based with one or other of you for more of the school year.

You can therefore either:
1. refuse to agree, and ultimately your ex would have to decide whether to abandon her plans or take it to Court. If it went to Court, then you would need to show that you were capable of looking after her for most of the school term, suggest a reasonable plan for how your daughter could have contact withe her mother during the term, perhaps be more reasonable than your ex in suggesting sharing of the handover travel, and have a suggestion for how more contact could be made up during the holidays (basically the kind of thing you think it might be fair for you to have if you were the one who didn't see her so much during school terms).
2. Or - indicate that you would only be prepared to agree on much better terms, failing which you will not agree - and make significantly more substantial demands re time in termtime, handovers, and holidays.

I hope that is helpful.