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plclegal, Barrister
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I have a final hearing 17 Jan 2020, one daughter she is 6 in

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I have a final hearing 17 Jan 2020, one daughter she is 6 in November. I am the mother. The father (applicant) is due to be re-tested for excessive and chronic alcohol use by 23 Dec and complete alcohol programme by then. A S7 cafcass report was completed for DRA on 27 Sept 2019z I have also raised domestic abuse in the form of verbal abuse and harassment. The father has seen our daughter twice weekly, always daytime only. The current order is ‘lives with’ me the mother and sees father weekly, daytime. Since the last hearing i’ve been thinking of relocating back to Canada where i am from and where my family and friends are (after 13 years in the uk). I cannot cope financially and the stress is taking a toll on my job. I need my family’s support. Can i raise the relocation at the final hearing in Jan (not having mentioned it until now during the proceedings) and how much preparation for the relocation should i do before then. What kind of arrangements should i propose for father to maintain relationship with our daughter?
Assistant: What steps have you taken? Have you filed any papers in family court?
Customer: Sorry i don’t understand the question
Assistant: Have you talked to a lawyer about this yet?
Customer: Not yet
Assistant: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No

Hello, my name is ***** ***** I’ll do my best to assist you today.

Please bear in mind as this is an email service and not live chat I may not respond immediately.

I'm reviewing your question and will revert back to you shortly.

OK. Firstly, you would need to raise it prior to the hearing in your statement, to give him time to respond in his statement too.

If you don't put your arguments forward in writing and give him chance to respond it will delay the decision.

You need to set out a positive case for why the move would be in the best interests of your daughter.

As to the plan for contact, you need to have a serious think about realistic plans, which would involve perhaps week long contact at a few points during the year, but only if safe. Regular short amounts of contact won't work if you live abroad.

I hope this assists?

Can I clarify anything?

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Hi Peter, thank you so much for your message. Can i please clarify:
- the order specifies that a statement is to be submitted by both parties 7 days before the final hearing, what are the likely outcomes, when my statement will announce intent to relocate while father’s will set out arrangements under the assumption we are staying? Will the court have sufficient notice to consider my request
- if i set out intention to relocate and include residence (at my mother’s house) and that i will give 3 months notice for resignation at work and assurance that i will find a job and reasons (eg family support) is that sufficient or shall am i better off to give resignation in advance and sell house etc.
- will the issues from DRA be discussed regardless or will the final hearing focus on the relocation?
Thank you
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
An additional clarification with regards ***** ***** out why the move would be in the best interest of our daughter. Is the proximity of her maternal grandmother (who was identified by cafcass as a significant person) a good reason along with my access to my family’s support and financial stability and my improved ability to spend more time with my daughter, are these good reasons?
- is there going to be a requirement to assess the child’s wishes
- how and when can i discuss this with her when she may mention this to her father or should i not mention at all before hearing date

I appreciate this is difficult to say, but will the father be absolutely opposed to the relocation?

I ask this because if so, you may have to apply for leave to 'remove the child from the jurisdiction" of the UK.

This will also need to be considered by Cafcass if you don't want further delay.

I don't think 7 days before the hearing is long enough to give this issue the airtime it needs.

You may want to consider issuing a specific issue order application about the proposal to be heard alongside the substantive application - it would also need an addendum from Cafcass.

There is time to do this though - you can propose a timetable for an addendum Cafcass report and that you both address the issue in your statements to court. You can state the basis of the application in the first instance and provide the further evidence (plus supporting evidence) in the statement that is to be filed prior to the hearing.

It would be perhaps advisable to get on the front foot here, rather than springing it as a last minute application.

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** me some good insights into the process.To answer your question,it is my belief that the father will be absolutely opposed to the application.Our communication lines have never been free flowing since we separated when our daughter was 1 yr old. The handovers are transactional and i have had to report the father for harassment on two occasions over the last two years when the volume of his text messages (900 in a period of three months) was so overwhelming it was impacting on my ability to function (work & life).I do not feel relocation is something I can discuss with him at all outside of the legal process.
- what would be the correct order of steps i should follow in this case.- if cafcass get involved again, would it be by court re-engaging the same officer who wrote s7 report for continuity or not necessarily, and so do i need to apply in time for her to get involved before the Jan hearing?- i believe father will suggest as part of his position his own arrangements with many conditions and requirements (part of my position is his extremely controlling behaviour, in addition to his drinking which was supported by a positive lab result presented to the court as part of the DRA in Sept and magistrates agreed re-testing is necessary, in Dec)
So i would like to propose an arrangement which balances our daughter’s relationship with her father with the fact that she has never stayed with him overnight, we never shared care, she is only six and i have all along had concerns about the drinking which have been now substantiated through the court process.Thank you

Yes I do believe the same Cafcass Officer will be involved in the process.

If you present a positive case for the move then this will, as you say, have to consider the issue of father's contact and how this can be managed appropriately.

I think it would be a good idea to give as much notice as possible, your case is not going to be harmed by this.

If you have further questions, you can always come back to me.

In the meantime, if you could take a second to provide a 5 star rating (at the top right of your screen), I'll be credited for my time spent responding to your question.

Kind regards,

Peter

Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Hi Peter,

Thank you for your message.

Do i understand correctly there is a specific issues order and there is an application process to apply for leave to remove the child from the jurisdiction’
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Apologies, pressed send too soon.
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
I was wondering if there are two ways of doing and whether only one is applicable or best in my situation.

See here for a really helpful resource which sets out all of the law in relation to this issue:

https://uk.practicallaw.thomsonreuters.com/5-622-2479?transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)&firstPage=true&bhcp=1#co_anchor_a364112

The SIO route is more straightforward, and as the final CA Order has not been made is an option available to you.

I hope this clarifies things.

If so, please take a second to rate my response with 5 stars as this will credit me for my time.

Thanks and do let me know if you have further questions, follow ups are part of the service, even if you have already taken the time to rate for me.

Kind regards,

Peter

plclegal and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Dear Peter, thank you so much, i have read through the guidance on the page you sent.

The first question that comes to mind is, will the full number of hearings be necessary, even though proceedings are on-going? That is, a first hearing, a DRA, a S7 report and a final hearing and if so what are the likely timeframes.

Is the average period of six to nine months as per the website, to be expected in my situation or because proceedings are on-going there is a possibility it will be shorter?

With kind regards.
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Just to clarify, a section 7 report has already been completed. I am wondering whether another one will have to be completed specifically relating to the relocation.

I imagine that the timetable will coincide with the current timetable and whilst a further full s7 will not be required a short addendum report may be required.

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Thank you so much for confirming Peter. It feels like a minefield at times! I do have a few more questions if that’s ok please.

The verbal and emotional abuse and harassment from the father over the last 4.5 years was categorised by cafcass as harmful conflict despite me providing extensive evidence suggesting it isn’t, in my 65 page witness statement.

Despite this behaviour, and the excessive drinking (turning up for collection intoxicated from night before, facetiming intoxicated and regularly smelling of alcohol on Saturday mornings at pickup, and episodes of sole charge intoxicated when Lavinia was 1yr old), i have throughout supported and encouraged our daughter’s relationship with her father often to my detriment (work and life).

His hectoring, obnoxious, frustrated, unstable and erratic behaviour have caused me a significant amount of stress.

I have engaged and tried to reason with this and have always promoted a positive image of her father.

How do i balance these two forces in a relocation scenario. On the one hand key issues have been documented in the statements so far and i will have to discuss these at final hearing. On the other hand I want to come up with arrangements which will support our daughter’s relationship with her father from a distance.

What would these look like, eg. Currently there is a weekly facetime on Mondays between 7-7.15pm as daughter does not have attention span for facetime. Wednesdays collects her around 4pm and drops home to me at 7pm. Saturdays from 9.30am-6pm.

Will i be less protected from a harassment via text message perspective if i move to canada? For example, here i can call the police (again) if it escalates. This is someone extremely confrontational and bullying.

Finally, I have started looking at schools this week and I have contacted friends/contacts with regards to jobs. I believe i have very good prospects to find a job that will be interesting yet will provide me with a good work-life balance. I currently commute 1hr each way and my job can entail long hours. I also know that schooling in the area where my mother lives (and we intend to live as well) is of relatively higher quality. We will live at my mother’s house initially until my daughter is settled at school and i will look for accommodation for us. My brother and my best friend also live in the area. We visit every year and so my daughter and I have a group of friends with children whom we visited. I also have an extended group of friends that i went to school with, with children of their own, which i will get in touch with. I believe my daughter will thrive and enjoy having her granny and uncle close, she loves playing with my brother’s dog, we could have a dog of pur own, she is already very talented at learning french and i’ve no doubt she will become perfectly bilingual in eng/fre. Education and quality of life are excellent and outdoors and winter sports are fantastic. I will have more time than i do now. Given how stressed i am feeling with all the pressure, i wonder if taking a break between jobs is the right thing to do (unless this can be detrimental to my case).

Can i reasonably be expected to travel with my daughter to London to facilitate contact, or to pay for father’s flights? There is a direct flight from London of 6.5hrs duration.

Apologies i am asking so many questions, as i start looking into this, i realise how many complexities there are. I hope this is ok.

OK. There's no right or wrong answer to any of the above - the points that you raise are all subjective issues that will need to be considered as part of the overall picture.

As to the level of contact, this will have to be considered from a practical point of view, mainly.

Facetime will become more important with the long distance.

If you have a harassment protection order in place (something you may wish to consider) this would apply cross border and also to texts.

Schooling sounds positive.

Whether you have a job or not is your choice.

Costs and logistics are things that need to be considered and court ordered if not agreed, what is reasonable will depend on resources and time.

But these are all the issues that need considering and both sides of the table will need to put their views across.

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
Thank you so much Peter. I appreciate I crossed into the how and what it may look like for us level of detail.

Q1. It is possibly because i don’t feel i have a sense of whether the court will weigh all the factors: child welfare, impact on relationship between child and parent staying behind, impact on me, impact on parent staying behind. Or are they all given equal weights?

Q2. I’m just not sure how to present my motivations, which to me are very simple. I want to return home where my family and close friends are, i believe my daughter will thrive in canada, will have more time with me, will have her grandmother, will learn french, will benefit from the better quality of life, less pollution, more safety (montreal is one of the safest cities in the world) and i will have more support. My father passed away in July and i want to get back close to my family at this time. How scrutinised is this going to be (given the father’s very high level of hostility) and do the different elements need to be prioritised ?

I am currently in high level of debt as a result of £25,000 of legal fees and 8 months of redundancy in 2016 while covering massive childcare costs almost entirely. (His revenue with CMS despite being a barrister has just been lodged as £400 per week so he is paying £215/month maintenance of the £2,000 it costs me.

Q3 It was really helpful that you mentioned costs and logistics will be considered on both sides to put their views and judged based on resource and time. What level of detail will the court expect re resource. Eg. A verbal affirmation from father that he doesn’t have funds will be sufficient?
Q4 how do i manage the risk of court saying ‘it’s not a realistic/feasible relocation as it will not allow the father to have the relationship with his daughter’, if this is a risk indeed, i’m not sure?

Q5 Finally, Given my daughter has never stayed overnight with her father, how does this come into consideration, when it comes to potential arrangements.

OK.

1. All factors are considered but the primary factor is the best interests of the child.

2. The wording of paragraph 2 is essentially how you present the motivations - honestly and clearly.

3. I don't think the court will go beyond asking for verbal or written submission of affordability.

4. Lots of families have this issue - and this is why it is before the court. Obviously a move will impact on the relationship. But the impact itself is not enough to prevent the application succeeding.

5. This is something that will need careful consideration as her safety and welfare are paramount. It may be that you propose day time contact with you coming to the UK too and having her back in the evenings for the initial stages. Contact would normally progress to overnight/ holidays though, unless there are good reasons not to do this.

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Thank you so much Peter.
Thinking from a procedural perspective:
- what form shall i use to apply to the court via the SIO route
- if i apply by the end of October, what delay is there likely to be expected between the date of the application and the date the respondent is informed
- will the court immediately identify that a hearing is scheduled for 17 January and write to both parties to inform us whether the issue will be considered at that hearing?
- when will i be expected to provide the detailed evidence eg position statement before the hearing
- is it possible that the hearing will be adjourned
Thank you

No problem at all.

From a procedural perspective - as you are in proceedings you file a C2:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-c2-application-for-permission-to-start-proceedings-for-an-order-or-directions-in-existing-proceedings-to-be-joined-as-or-cease-to-be-a-part

You set out the reasons in brief for your application on the form.

If you then include draft directions as follows as an attached .doc file, it should cover it:

---

UPON The applicant mother having applied for a specific issue order on the issue of relocation to ***, the following directions shall apply:

1. This application is to be heard at the same time as the hearing for the CAO application on 17 January;

2. Cafcass are to be informed of the application and the author of the s7 report dated *** is directed to produce a short addendum report on this issue only by 4pm on *** [FYI only - date 21 days after the filing of your application]

3. Parties to address their position in response to this application and the addendum report filed by the author of the s7 report (Cafcass) in their statements of evidence due to be filed on ***;

4. No order as to costs.

Obviously the *** is for you to complete.

I hope this helps.