My son (11.5 yrs) has recently expressed strong preference to reside with me (father) and has been now for 2 months. This follows increasing requests to visit more frequently and for longer periods. I have a shared care (no court orders) arrangement with his mother which operated reasonably well until 15 months ago, when the mother announced she was moving 150miles to live with boyfriend and Son has no option but to consent to it and change schools etc. I reside within his school catchment area and am remarried (3 yrs) to my partner of 10yrs. My ex-wife has increasing caused distress to my son by preventing any flexibility in his requests to increase visits and he has phoned me numerous times to visit when he could get away from his mother which I did not endorse. However prior to accepting he reside with me, he has 'run away' and turned up on my doorstep (once 6.30AM) without any knowledge of myself or his mother. As he is clearly at risk of running away and determining his own preferences I feel obliged to offer him residency as he requires.I have 2 older daughters (21 at university & 17.5 residing with mother).My ex-wife has since harassed me, my wife and son repeatedly insisting he returns to her, which I am unable to influence. I have bought him a phone to encourage direct contact with her and invited her to discuss with me and son but she is resolutely angry and says this is not his choice or mine. There is no constructive dialogue and she has recently approached the CSA to enforce maintenance collection unilaterally unknown to me until they called. There is no history of maintenance difficulty however I did write to her to ask for a review now he was with me all the time. She has refused to offer him any clothes or property from her house.I have not been able to engage her with a third party or with son to mediate a discussion on meeting son's preferences until her solicitor made a referral on her behalf.I agreed to attend mediation to further discuss however she has now applied to court for an emergency directions hearing, claiming I have wrongfully reversed residency and he is at risk as he has failed to attend scouts on a few occasions. The first mediation appointment was due next week and has now been undermined by having to attend the directions hearing at the very same time!My son is happy and healthy, enjoys the company of his father and stepmother a great deal. We are able and willing to care for him no problem.What approach should I take to ensure his wishes and preferences are protected?
Province/Country relating to question : UK
How long has he been with you?
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As above, he has been with me now for 2 months.I have things to do also!The court hearing is on Tuesday10AM.I was advised with papers Thursday 10PM.My son has spent each alternate weekend and one night in week with me since I separated when he was 2yrs old as well as extended holidays and periods of sickness when his mother was at work.I am a very senior manager in a charity and have been in full employment all this time. If you cant assist with advice now let me know.
HiAt 11 your son is too young for his wishes to be the deciding factor in this.What you should have done is returned your son and promised that you would apply to the court for a change in residence - and you could have arranged mediation yourself had you wishedYour saving grace is that it has taken her two months to make the application which means that the status quo is now your son with youDo not say that you could not return him - if you cannot control him now the court will wonder why you think you can cope with him at all.Acknowledge to the court that you have handled things badly and ask for an urgent wishes and feelings report to be completed prior to any decision on a further change of residenceClaire
Thank you.I chose not to return him as I feared he would run away again probably somewhere else if I rejected him.My son is adamant that he will not return.My ex-wife has refused to engage in offer of mediation or any adult parental discussion on this matter- not much point in persuing that was there?At what age would the court determine that 11 (nearly 12) his voice is significant in control and safety of him?
HiAs I said I would not make a great deal of that argument - it is too easy for then other side to point out that you could simply have explained to your son that the court application would be made and he would have a chance for his voice to be heardIn the end the decisive age is 16 - but between 12 and 16 the wishes of the child become more significant - an din the long term in this case from what you have said you are to achieve the result that your son is looking forClaire
25 years experience of all aspects of family law
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