This might not be straight forward and I don't think I'll get the answers I want, but want to ask people opinion anyway.
Been separated since 2017 (and now divorced)
I currently have the kids (3 of (13, 11, 10)) every other weekend and every Thursday (pick up after school and take them back to school on Friday AM)
During the costly back and forth with solicitors I stated that I wanted more time with the children and was only able to get the above result.
Prior to this I was visiting the FMH to have time with the kids on a Tuesday too. But we agreed that this caused too much disruption to them and so dropped it to 1 day in the week. (With the expectation that the house would be sold and we could resume)
She would'nt allow the additional night to resume stating that the status quo was now for them to see me once a week + every other weekend and any change would be disruptive and cause their school work to suffer.
Fast forward past the 2 years I had to spend living at my parents, having 3 kids to stay an average or 2 nights per week and the emotional disruption to everyone. (which could have been better for all (esp the kids) if the house was sold quicker per the court order)
And we arrive at today when she is planning on moving the kids from their school, friends and only (apart from herself) family.
A move of 50 miles and ~1 hour drive.
She has the means (financialy) to stay in the area of their current schools, friends and family.
Clearly I wont be able to easily maintain the Thursday contact. I am concerned that if I stop the Thursday that she will then say, well its now the status quo that you only have them every other weekend.
What, if anything can I do?
I want more contact with them anyway. Will become impossible unless I move too.
I want shared care if possible. Will that give me more power over the big decisions in their life?
While your ex doesn't need your agreement to move 50 miles away with the children, she can't change the children's schools without your involvement and agreement; or permission from the court.
Your only legal option is to make an application for a Prohibited Steps Order under s7 of the Children Act 1988. This wouldn't prevent mum from moving, but it would prevent her from moving your children out of their current location. You would need to prove that moving them away would be detrimental to them, ie:
• The other parent is acting unilaterally, disrupting the children’s well-established routine, and shared parenting with you is being terminated without regard to the children’s best interests;
• The other parent’s relocation will effectively erase you from your children’s life or significantly reduce the amount of time your children can spend with you;
• You suspect the other parent’s motives, as there was no discussion with you to seek viable alternatives;
• The other parent has no pressing need to relocate, so you believe it has been done to prevent contact;
• Removal from the area is not in your children’s best interests as they are settled at school and moving them away would interrupt their relationships with teachers, friends, other relatives, and, of course, yourself
However, I don't wish to get your hopes up as judges don't like to restrict personal movement of a parent, and your ex may believe that she has a good case in moving your children, ie to move to be closer to her new partner for support. The problem with applying for a PSO to restrict internal relocation is that it can be viewed as controlling and with school aged children it is often better to apply for a PSO on the grounds that a change of school and loosing friendships would be disruptive. A PSO application won't necessarily stop the move but court proceedings ensure that proper arrangements are in place before the move takes place.
Your best option is to come to an agreement with your ex - if you present it as a fight, then it will become hostile. You need to present the arguments against her relocation from a child-focused perspective. Booking some mediation sessions is a good step. It might be an idea to ask her to set out how she thinks contact will work if she does move. How often, who will travel, who will pay for the travel, how will your children cope with the travel, etc. Your arguments should not be about her moving, but about removing your children from their schools, family, friends, disrupting their routine etc. Stay child-focused.
Both you and your ex have parental responsibility, this means (in theory) that you are both equal in the eyes of the law - one parent does not have an elevated status re the children over the other parent. There are certain decisions that both parents MUST be involved in and agree upon (or where there is no agreement, permission from the court):
• Selecting a school and applying for admissions;
• Contact rotas during school holidays;
• Planned medical and dental treatment;
• Stopping medication prescribed by a GP;
• Attendance at school functions (so the parents may avoid meeting each other wherever possible);
• Age at which children are allowed to watch age-restricted DVDs and video games.
It may be worth thinking about applying for a Child Arrangements Order, with a "joint lives with" element ( shared residence) with clearly defined times and days/weeks when the children will live with you, and live with thier Mum.
Another option would be to offer to move to her new area in order to continue with the current arrangements.....
Or for your children to live with you, and Mum has contact on the basis you current have.....
Hi and thanks for the very thorough post. I really appreciate that.
You're absolutely right that this should be from the kids perspective.
I have no problem with where they're moving to. Its a nice part of the UK. But its not where their schools, friends and family are located. She stopped talking to her mother and has some issue with her sister, so all of the kids family is on my side.
Anyway thanks again I'll try to make some progress on the points you've mentioned.