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Aaron D
Aaron D, Barrister
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 453
Experience:  LLB, BPTC
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My ex husband and I have a 6 year old child together and we

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Hi, my ex husband and I have a 6 year old child together and we have been having issues co parenting since he has moved away to live with his new girlfriend and have had a new baby. We have had a mediation at the school with the family support worker but we seem to have come away with different takes on it and so everything still feels like a battle. He recently kept hold of my son after a 2 week stay at his and refused to bring him home, saying he will bring home the following week which then coincidently they had to self isolate for 2 weeks which I feel was the plan all along as he did not want our son to return back to school so he ended up being there for 5 weeks. In these 5 weeks I feel our son has been emotionally manipulated to tell me he wants to live there and move schools etc but once he was home he didn't say anything of the sort and when asked if he liked living with me he said yes he is going to live here until he is 20. My ex husband has taken this on board that he wants to move away from his life here and be there with him and is insisting we meet with zack and ask him to choose which of course I will not agree to. I will not put our son on the spot to pick a parent. What can I do?
JA: What steps have you taken? Have you filed any papers in family court?
Customer: No we just have an agreement between us regarding his contact
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer about this yet?
Customer: No as I don't know where to start
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: The last weekend he had him he sent me a text claiming zack had told him I would hit him if he was to throw his odd socks in the bin, something his dad is not happy with him wearing. He wouldnt let me talk to our son on the phone even though he told me he was really upset and is now accusing me and my partner of hitting him

Hello, thank you for your question. My name is***** am a barrister and will assist you with this issue today.

Please be aware that this is an e-mail service rather than a live chat. Sometimes there will be some delay between responses but I will try to reply as soon as possible.

You're right to refuse to put your son on the spot as the father suggests. To do so will cause him emotional harm.

It sounds like you've tried the best approach which is to come to sensible arrangements. I'd suggest speaking to the Family Support Worker to see if there is any further support they can offer.

If you can't come to an agreement as to the long term future of where your son is to live and there are so many ongoing issues you might feel the need to step things up and get the court involved.

You'd still need to try mediation first. I know you've done this via the support worker but you'd need to attend a formal mediation assessment session. You might want to try full mediation. You can explore this here: https://www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk/find-local-mediator.

If you feel that you've reached the stage where court is necessary then you could consider applying to the court for an order called a Child Arrangements Order (CAO).

Specifically within a CAO it often dictates who the child is to live with. You can apply for the child to live with you or for a joint live with order which is what people sometimes refer to as "joint custody".

You can instruct a solicitor to apply for this for you or you can apply yourself.

You can find a solicitor who specialises in family law here: https://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk

If you wanted to apply yourself then you can find the form here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-c100-application-under-the-children-act-1989-for-a-child-arrangements-prohibited-steps-specific-issue-section-8-order-or-to-vary-or-discharge

You will have to pay an issue fee (£215) to the court but if you are on a limited income then sometimes you can apply for a remission: https://www.gov.uk/get-help-with-court-fees.

If you do issue an application usually what happens is when the case is first listed, Cafcass inform the court about any safeguarding issues. Often the court needs more information and order a s.7 report. If appropriate this includes finding out the “wishes and feelings” of the child. You can find out more about s.7 reports here: https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/grown-ups/parents-and-carers/divorce-and-separation/section-7-report/. The social worker will approach this in a sympathetic way and in a neutral location. It won't be as simple as asking him where he wants to live.

The case only progresses to a contested hearing with a judicial decision if an agreement cannot be reached between yourselves.

In general the court will always look to encourage a relationship between the child and both parents if it is safe. The overriding factor in any decision is always the welfare of the child.

I hope this helps, if you can please accept my answer and rate me 5 stars (in the top right of your screen) then Just Answer will credit me for helping you today.

I will remain available for any follow-up questions.

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