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I have a final hearing ***, one daughter she is 6 in ***. I am the mother. The father (applicant) is due to be re-tested for excessive and chronic alcohol use by *** and complete alcohol programme by then. A S7 cafcass report was completed for DRA on 27*** 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 *** 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 ***(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.
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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?
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.
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.
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See here for a really helpful resource which sets out all of the law in relation to this issue:
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.
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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.
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 *** 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 *** and drops home to me at ***. Will i be less protected from a harassment via text message perspective if i move to ***? 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 ***** ***** 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.
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.
No problem at all.
From a procedural perspective - as you are in proceedings you file a C2:
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.