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Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34885
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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My children, aged 9 and 11 have expressed an interest to live

Customer Question

My children, aged 9 and 11 have expressed an interest to live with me over living with their mum.
I have parental responsibility and a contact order in place. I know he girls mum would object to this, however the girls, especially my youngest wish to move to mine to have a better and happier life. They have given many reasons why they think a move to my house would be better for them.
Since separating from their mum, some 7 years or so ago, we have attended court several times over contact to improve this.
I need to know what steps can be taken to look at this possibility.
Your advise would be greatly appreciated.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
When was the last hearing?
What Contact do you actually have?
Why do they wish to move?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Last hearing was late 2012.
Current contact is;
Alternate weekends, plus Wednesday afternoons and all of half terms and almost half of summer holidays.
There is meant to be phone contact also on Tuesday evenings but rarely happens due to their mum being obstructive.
They wish to live with me as they hardly see their mum anyway due to her work commitments, and also see how my younger daughter and step daughter enjoy life here at my house. By enjoy, I mean they get to have friends over or go to visit friends and see extended family.
Also, in the words of my youngest, I make sure they have showers, brush their teeth and hair and generally make sure they look presentable and give them boundaries and consequences. The weekends they spend with their mum, they sometimes go off with their mums friend or her mum has friends over. My daughters also don't get along with mums current boyfriend and he doesn't like children, or so they have been told!
This along with mum not taking interest in their education and making sure homework isn't completed.
From my point of view, I have spoken to my girls about their thoughts and said they would see less of their mum perhaps but could talk to her whenever they wished. (I live 18 miles away from mum). My 9 year olds response to this was they don't seem mum much anyway.
My other thoughts on this are they would greatly benefit socially and emotionally by living with me, giving them a greater chance to succeed in life. I would ensure they are always clean etc, homework is completed and an interest taken. I am studying to become a teacher, so that I am generally available during school holidays. My new wife also works within a school and has the holidays off work.
During previous hearings, I have expressed interest to consider joint custody and met with a no from my ex partner. I strongly feel she says no a she would feel a failure and also doesn't want me to have the girls, but without a solid reason apart from stubbornness.
I must add that there was a social services case during 2012 against their mother due to another parent and a brownies leader having concerns over alcohol usage from the girls mum. A investigation was taken and social services concluded that they couldn't take it any further.
I would also add that their mum would fight any potential case for girls to live with me, even though she tells them they can come live with me when they finish school!!
Happy to answer any other questions.
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Would they have to change schools?
How long do you have them at the weekend?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
My eldest is due to start secondary school on September and my youngest is starting year 5.
Yes, it would make sense to change school, however the girls mum has considered changing schools for my 9 year old anyway.
I have them 4pm Friday through to 6pm Sunday.
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
At the moment the only clear reason for seeking a change is the fact that the children tell you that they wish to live with you.
Whilst the wishes of the children - particularly the 11 year old are of great importance the fact is that a court may feel that there is an element of "the grass is always greener" and of course it makes then the focus of a great deal of pressure
Rather then having straight for an Order that the children live with you - which would be hard battle as a starting point you should campaign to increase the time that they spend with you - assuming that you can manage their current schools.
As starting point you could stretch the weekend contact to run from school on a Friday to school on a Monday - and ask for the Wednesday contact to be changed to overnight. You could also ask for either every Tuesday night (which would raise this to 50/50 shared care) or Thursday nights on the weeks when they wont weekend with you.
Once that is in place and your youngest is 11 then it will be easier to take the next step and switch the main care to you
Either way the starting point is to try and discuss matters with your ex using Family mediation ( - preferably using a Mediator also trained to work with young people.
If that fails you can apply to the court - there is more information here.
I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I have tried your suggestions to extend contact and as mum is not agreement, mainly due to me living 18 miles away for the school run in the morning which I said I was fine to do.
I pretty much have the girls most of school holidays already.
It seems that not much can be done?
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Not at all.
You arrange a mediation appointment to discuss it and of she refuses then you apply to the court for a new child arrangement Order based on the shared care plan
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Thanks for your answers.

Again, have tried the mediation route, which she refused and that's how we went to court last time.

Should I try mediation again? How would I start the process without a solicitor or court direction?



Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Yes start again - contact a Mediator and attend the first meeting
If your ex refuses to attend you can then apply to the court using the form here