What does being `the resident parent’ mean?

What does this actually mean???

Every time someone has told me they absolutely, positively have to be the resident parent I have always asked `What will a residence order allow you to do that you can’t do now?’

I usually get a blank stare. Or told something that isn’t true. Often that’s by the other side’s solicitor or barrister. If it’s a parent it’s usually something about being able to call the police and get the kids back if the non resident parent refuses to hand them over.

Problem is that it’s not true – if you want the thin blue line to get involved you’ll need an Emergency Protection Order (form C11) – covered in Section 44 of the Children Act. Or they’ll have to be convinced the child will suffer significant harm if not removed (that’s section 46). Most they’ll do (or the most they should do is a Welfare Check).

Pro-tip: Don’t think about trying to use these except in very, very extreme circumstances.

A resident parent has precisely no powers to demand a child is with them other than going through the courts – they are in exactly the same position as a non resident parent. Which is why if you phone 999 and demand your children are returned you’ve got a good chance of being told to speak to your solicitor and/or take it to court.

So in light of the above I present you with a comprehensive list of things that a resident parent can do that a non resident parent can’t. Here we go.

  1. A resident parent can remove a child from jurisdiction for up to 28 days without the permission of the non resident parent.
  2. That’s it.

A non resident parent does need permission of the resident parent.

What’s the point then? Let’s be honest – it’s a nice title innit? You’re the RESIDENT parent. The main one. The boss. It doesn’t matter that little title means almost precisely nothing – doesn’t affect when your kids are with you, who is in charge, education, medicine or anything else like that. That doesn’t mean that many of the people and agencies you deal with will agree with me on this…but that’s their ig

So what do you do when you are faced with an ex who demands they get this title? Ask them (or their solicitor) What harm will the child come to if this order isn’t granted?’ Expect to be told something along the lines of It’s a well established principle’ (rubbish). `The law is clear on this‘ (Ask them which law – there ain’t one). `It reflects the reality on the ground‘ (irrelevant). `The order HAS to say who the child lives with‘ (no it doesn’t…).

The No Order’ principle states the court must start from the position that no order shall be made unless the court consider that doing so would be better for the child than making no order at all’– or in other words `Prove that an order is needed’.

Of course the `go to’ most solicitors will use for this is to say that such an order will make the primary carer (usually Mum) feel more secure if such an order is made which of course will impact the children.

So consider this. While a residence order is of little significance or relevance to you as a contact parent it is often the case it means a great deal to the primary carer.  With this in mind you can agree…or disagree that such an order should be made. You may wish to agree to such an order on the proviso that your goals for contact are agreed to. Otherwise you’ll have no option but to point out there is little benefit for such an order to be made.

(One final word – they’re not called `residence orders’ any more. It’s about Who the child lives with’. Same thing, different name – but `residence order’ is a little easier to say).

How do I stop my ex moving away with the kids?

We get this asked a lot. From our (own biased) point of view there is a good chance that following the separation of their parents a child will be moved a distance away from where they were previously by the resident parent (or since the changes in the last few years `The parent the child lives with’).

Please note this post only related to moves within jurisdiction (i.e. children habitually resident in England & Wales who are being moved away – including to Scotland and Northern Ireland. There’ll be a post about kids being uprooted to Australia and the like in the future).

Why? Well – it doesn’t really matter when you get right down for it, but the following jusitifcations are used:

  1. I want a fresh start somewhere new.
  2. I can move closer to my family and/or support network.
  3. I want to.
  4. Because my new partner has a job 400 miles away and he/she can’t get a new one.
  5. Because I have been offered a job 400 miles away and I get one anywhere closer.

So how do you stop them? The answer is `With great difficulty’. You’ll need to submit a C100 to ask for a Prohibited Steps Order – or a C2 for one as a variation if there is a live case.

If you are a non resident parent (as was) don’t think a contact order won’t effectively be torn up will stop a move. It will be if you aren’t careful.

If it results in contact reducing or stopping the court won’t care. It will probably not order the resident parent to do the travelling either…that’ll be down to you. Like it or lump it. Which means the onus is on you. Your options are therefore:

  1. Make an application for a PSO (recommended).
  2. Make plans to and follow through with moving too (recommended).
  3. Accepting a reduction or stopping of contact (guess)

Don’t get me wrong. You will almost certainly fail in your bid to get a PSO granted. It does happen but don’t count on it. Hope for the best, plan for the worst and all that. Use the time that the application takes to do your research. New places to live, new places to work, support networks to build. Applying for a PSO will do the following:

  1. Give you extra time.
  2. Give you more information about what is going on.
  3. Register your disagreement with the move (not doing anything counts as agreement, kids!)
  4. Provide you with additional evidence of the hostility towards you (if that is the case).

So what are good reasons to oppose a move?

Your children will be uprooted from their family. From their school. From their friends. From the home they have known for so long. To an area they don’t know filled with people they don’t know. This argument is stronger if your children have strong links to the area they live in – lots of friends, families, activities and an education that will be disrupted by being removed from one school and placed in another (particularly if exams are in the offi

As always, use the Welfare Checklist as your guide.

And as always the above is all about judgement. Which is where we come in.

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When should I go to court?

There’s a golden rule when asking yourself this question and the answer is really quite simple. It is:

Go to court when it is liable to make things better than worse.

Its’ not rocket science. Court isn’t known or meant to be a fun place – just about anywhere is better than in a court building. Unless you’re somewhere like the Royal Courts of Justice (where these is a Costa stand) the coffee is pretty awful to start with.

But seriously.

If there is any way of getting recourse rather than relying to the nice man or nice lady behind the big desk to sort out the whole sorry mess you really need to give it a go. If it means being nice to someone you’re not particularly fond if, do it. Arrange mediation with them (don’t ask them…arrange it and go). Communicate – writing or emailing is best – to see if you can come up with something that you may not like but at least can live with.

If it turns out none of the above don’t hesitate. Contact us and we’ll tell you whether we think going to court is the best option. If it is…don’t hang about. If you want to change something, a status quo is your biggest enemy.

As Mr Shakespeare wrote in the Scottish play `If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly’ (Act 1 Scene 7).

Many people hold back from going to court because they believe it will inflame the situation or maybe the other party will calm down enough to resolve matters. That’s a mighty big gamble when the clock is ticking an a status quo is being set – and you risk hearing that you must have been fine with the current setup or else you’d have done something about it sooner.

In other words…if going to court is the best option, get on with it. Nothing to be scared of either if one of us is by your side…

Help! My ex has changed my kids’ names!

…and in a change to advertised programming today’s post will be about, erm, what to do when your ex has changed your kids’ names.

So. Nuts and bolts. Can the ex just do this? Here is a comprehensive list detailing every way a child’s name can be legally changed.

  1. With the agreement of everyone who has PR for the kid.
  2. A court order saying so.
  3. That’s it. There is no number 3.

Simple, eh?

This subject comes up with a weary inevitability. So do the people we speak to who have this problem. We’ve had 2 today so far which is why this post is on this topic.

Pro tip: Deed polls don’t count. They’re not worth the paper they’re written on, especially so if there is lots of gold leaf, excitingly-shaped edges, fancy writing and lots of legalese that makes it look very, very important. If you have one for your child…you’ve wasted your money. If you have one and you want to do it legally you need to go to the Royal Courts of Justice to `enrol’ it…and you’ll need one of the extensive list above to do it.

Otherwise you may as well not have bothered.

Now I know what you’re going to say `Ah…my kids have a legal name and a known as’ name. So it’s OK’. Nope. Doesn’t work like that (unless you’re in Scotland and then it does).

Or you’ll say `I told the school/doctor/whoever and they were fine with it’. That’ll be because they don’t know or don’t care about the law. It’s probably the first one out of the list.

Or possibly `My kids chose to be called by their name’. Doesn’t matter. Check the list above.

Or maybe `The other parent isn’t about – so I can do what I like’. No. You’ll need to go to court to get an order in that case.

So what do you do if you find yourself in this situation? As always the first piece of advice is `Don’t stick your head in the sand’. And as always the longer you leave it, the harder it gets to change things. As soon as you learn this happened contact the school, the doctor, where ever else and ask them to change to your kids’ real names. Maybe take their birth certificate in. Explain firmly but nicely what you would like to happen. If they do and it is left at that…great. You don’t need to do anything else.

If not…it’s time to go to court. You’ll need to make an application for a Specific Issues Order.

So it’s as simple as that. Either way – and I am aware I am repeating myself here – doing nothing is just about the worst thing you can do. A stitch in time and all that, OK?

 

A McKenzie Friend can help to banish the `black dog'.

Introduction

`Why should I use a McKenzie Friend?’

Because a good McKenzie Friend will empower you.

A McKenzie Friend can help to banish the `black dog'.The outcome of the court case you be a life changer. When your kids will be allowed to see you. Where you’ll live. What legal challenges your company faces. How much cash you’ll have.

So it’s important to make sure that someone who knows all the facts is in control of your case:

You.

Don’t be daunted. Most people are able to do a great job of representing themselves. What they may not be family with is procedure, law or negotiation.

Why should I use a Family Law Assistance McKenzie Friend?

Simple.

Our team members have personal experience of litigation in Family and Civil courts. They also have legal qualifications and extensive experience assisting people in courts around England and Wales.

It’s also our passion.

We know what works and what it it feels to be involved in a stressful court case.

You feel powerless. Outgunned. Overwhelmed. Bullied.

You’re be tired, at the end of your tether and unable – your life put on hold. You cannot face the future.

You feel walking away is the best option – even while your argument is very strong. You are nervous, drained and exhausted. The lack of certainty of the role you’ll play in kids’ life, where you’ll end up sleeping and the future quality of your life leaves you paralysed.

We can help.

A Mckenzie Friend will help you sleep at night.

We will give you the tools to run your own case and tell you how to use them. You’ll know what is likely to happen at court, what your ex may do to do next and how to avoid the usual pitfalls.

Because no matter what situation you face it has happened a thousand times before to someone else – and we have helped them face it.

That is how it works. Your knowledge of the situation and our skills and experience to help you deploy them. Simple as that. It’s often a winning combination.

Our help can range from checking your position statement before a hearing to assisting you every step of the way.

The sooner you act, the sooner you can get on with your life. Don’t hesitate. Contact us now for a free consultation.

 

 

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