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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: UK Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34105
Experience:  25 years experience of all aspects of family law
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My 11 year old son who was the subject of a court order has

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My 11 year old son who was the subject of a court order has been seeing his father once a week as per the order and some additional informal contact. His father took the matter back to court and the new order is now alternate weekends staying, alternate Christmas and half of all holidays. My son does not want to do this as he does not wish to be away from his 16 year old brother, the family home and his friends and while I tried to represent this in court on his behalf, the court decided for staying contact etc. My son is not aware of the community service and possible prison part of the order and I woudl not like him to be. CAFACASS reported about 2 years ago and have since been removed from the case, partly due to unsatisfactory service. Can you tell me if my son's opinion can be represented by any other neutral party at any possible enforcement hearing and whether my son has to comply with the Court Order. I have encouraged him to have staying contact etc but he is refusing.
Thank you for your question
I shall do my best to assist you but need some further information first.
When was the latest Order made and does your ex not accept that this is not what your child wants?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The latest order was made on Tuesday this week. He does not accept my son's opinion/view.

Just to check - this was after a final hearing at which you both gave evidence - did either of you produce any letters from school or anything similar?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Yes, this was a final hearing. I produced a note from my son asking for contact to remain as it had been, addressed to the judge. I know that CAFCASS sometimes use this method to get children to express their feelings and asked my son to put in writing what he had told me. I did not produce anything from school. My ex husband did not produce any letters from school. Hope this helps.

What reason did the Judge give for his decision?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi I am struggling to answer this one as the hearing was with magistrates and when ex and I were called back in, the lead magistrate read out the order which I do not have yet as a hard copy. Broadly, it was about both parties working together for the child. Yesterday evening, my ex rang to speak to our 11 year old and he (the child) explained that he did not want staying contact and he did not want to spend Christmas away from this home. His father reminded him that there was a court order but my son kept going and then said goodnight.

When is the first weekend contact?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It was meant start yesterday at lunch time and then be over this weekend.

Why is he not willing to spend a night with his father - this is of course very different from Christmas or school holidays?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Apologies for the delay in replying. My son feels that seeing his Dad for most of the day over the weekend is enough for him. His Dad lives with his parents and my son does not like being there generally and is always relieved to come back. Grandma has dementia and my son does not feel close to his Grandfather. Dad lives 8 miles away in a town that my son does not really know where he has no friends of his age. He prefers to see Dad for the time he has currently been doing and spend more time with friends locally. Also my son sees being in his own home as being with his family especially with his older brother. He likes the family activities we do ie games, live music (both children perform in a local drama and music group) , lively discussions. Saturday night is always family film night and there are often guests to dinner. He has told me that these are things he looks forward to and his current contact is at the balance that suits him right now.

You are not going to like my answer I am afraid.
With regard to the issues of School Holidays and Christmas I think that you have some hope of taking the matter back to court in due course to review these, but NOT unless the overnight contact goes ahead in the meantime.
Your son does not have to comply with the order YOU do. Just as you have to comply with the law that states that your child must be educated - whether he wishes to be or not.
If you are taken back to court for enforcement I am afraid the answer - "he did not wish to go" will not impress the Judge - after all he might not wish to have a filling at the dentist or do an exam - but in both those circumstances it is your Will which must prevail and not his.
It is of course entirely possible that your son may discover that once in a while he does enjoy staying over night - especially if you are careful to ensure he does not loose out on seeing the people he likes best when they visit.
If he does not enjoy it then I dare say he will make his feelings known whilst he is there as only 11 year olds can.
After two months /four overnights the next step is to use a Family mediator trained to work with young people so that you discuss matters with your ex in a Forum where your sons views can be heard.
If then your ex still wont listen you can apply to the court to vary the order and will have independent evidence of your sons real wishes - as opposed to a letter produced by you and written at your request - which is what caused a problem for you last time
However until the first overnight contacts have actually taken place there is little point in starting this as the Court will simply put this down to you frustrating contact.
I am sorry - I know that this is NOT what you want to hear - but it is the most realistic chance you have of reversing the order
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Thanks for coming back to me and for your honesty. I am not sure how I would access a family mediator. Can you help me with that?

You can find a local family mediator using the service here
I can only tell you exactly what I would tell you if you were across my desk - which is that sometimes to get the the end result you want we have to take a longer route!
Clare and 2 other UK Family Law Specialists are ready to help you

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