There are many families in London where parents are from different countries, or different parts of the UK. Family life has been established in London, but where do you go if you split up? If parents cannot reach agreement about where children should live, ultimately the Court will make the decision.
Recently the Court of Appeal looked at a mother’s wish to move their child aged 10 from London to Cumbria. The child was used to spending two nights each week and every other weekend with her father. The mother was then given the court’s permission to move, and directed that the child was to stay with her father on alternate weekends. He could see her midweek but he would have to travel to Cumbria to do that.
The father appealed. The Court of Appeal allowed the move to go ahead, and clarified that these questions are about the welfare of the child. Each case has to be looked at individually, whether the move is within the UK, or to another country. The wishes, feelings and interests of the parents and the impact of the decision on them is important, but only in terms of the children’s needs.
If you are in this position, the best thing is to try to achieve agreement. If you are the parent wanting to move away, you need to make real efforts to come up with a plan to keep the other parent fully involved in your child’s life. Propose a plan that respects current arrangements as far as possible. If the move will limit meeting opportunities, consider how to maintain close links by other ways. There are many things to be gained by reaching an agreement which are hard to quantify. Your goodwill is worth a huge amount.
For the parent left in London, if you can agree, it will mean the other parent is far more likely to work with you to keep things comfortable for your child to keep close ties with you. This means being kept in touch with school, with playground and friendship issues, homework, changes in staff at school, changing dreams and wishes of your child. This does not mean you just agree whatever proposal is put. However, it’s worth working hard to discuss this. This could be face to face if it is possible, although it is often extremely difficult to do this, through friends in mediation or through solicitors negotiating. You should find out the strength of your legal case too, whether that is to prevent the move or to achieve it. It might be impossible to avoid conflict if you feel that the move is just not in your child’s interest. You need to make a decision early on as to whether you are going to oppose the move, and whether you have a realistic chance of doing this successfully, or whether you would be better to accept it and work with it to minimize the damage.
If you have any questions or queries about this article or any of my other articles all of which are on our website www.hmbsolicitors.co.uk., please feel free to email me on [email protected]. If there are any particular issues that any readers would like to ask please feel free to email me.
Specialist Family Lawyer and Mediator