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Advice on long term residency following years or issues
#1
Hi,

I'm looking for some advice. I've got a seven year old daughter from a previous relationship. Aside from a handful of instances I have always had regular, weekly visitation since I separated from her mother more than four years ago. It's been a difficult couple of years for my daughter as her Mother had a difficult upbringing - and the cycle is very much repeating itself - in that her new partner has taken priority and my daughter very much felt sidelined. 

Things came to a head late last year when they began to push for me to have my daughter more. This was fine, but I wanted it to be gradual and planned so as not to upset my daughter. Unfortunately, her mother didn't see it that and dropped her to my door one Sunday evening and left her with me. She now has visitation to the tune of 3-4 nights per fortnight (2x weekends per month with 1 night in between). They have made it perfectly clear that they do not want my daughter back for any more than that - which is amazing news for me as she is flourishing in our care (I'm now married and my wife and daughter get on brilliantly)

I'm writing for advice as the mother and her partner are now struggling with this arrangement, and actually want to reduce it further - the partner will now no longer be in the house with my daughter as they do not get along (she is seven! - he is approaching 30). Her mother has made her choice and they seem fairly intent on having only day visits - with no overnight stays. Now that my daughter lives with me, goes to a new school near our home and is happily settled in - where do I stand in the grand scheme of things? I want to be confident that her mother cannot simply swoop in and remove her from my care (however unlikely) as I'm worried it is starting to have a significant impact on my daughter, who regularly exhibits behaviour with her mother that suggests severe abandonment issues. She has told me she doesn't like staying there and doesn't want to see them anymore.

Do custody rights now sit with me in the eyes of the law? (this was informally agreed)
If not, can I apply for this?

Thanks

Will
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#2
Yes you can have it formalised that you have residency. (Not called custody anymore).

You do it in the same way as a Non resident applies for contact. Mediation first before court. You are looking for residency to be awarded to you and defined contact days for the mother or whatever you agree.
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#3
Check with a solicitor and formulate a plan before telling her you're wanting to switch to residency. You may find that once she considers the financial implications of that, she may suddenly have a change of heart!
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#4
(03-05-2018, 05:23 PM)marwood Wrote: Check with a solicitor and formulate a plan before telling her you're wanting to switch to residency. You may find that once she considers the financial implications of that, she may suddenly have a change of heart!

Thanks for replying. Just to be clear, my daughter lives with me, her mother has now started paying me child maintenance (family based arrangement) as I'm responsible for childcare bills etc.

What I'm looking to figure out is how easy it would be for her mother to simply take her back?
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#5
Is the child maintenance paid through the CMS? Just thinking it would help if she decided to change things, to prove that daughter lives with you by having the confirmation of the CMS payments.

Yes she might suddenly take her back, so i would get it formalised. If she is in agreement to that now you could agree a consent order at mediation which would be drawn up as an agreement and sent to the court to be stamped as a consent order. But Marwood's advice is good to get it in writing before even going to mediation. If she won't go to the mediation,then you go for one appointment on your own (a MIAM) and ask to be signed off - you need the sign off to apply to court.

Meanwhile I would keep as much documentary type things as possible to prove daughter lives with you at your address. Assume the school knows, GP should be registered for her at your address.

If your ex is paying child maintenance and daughter lives with you then presumably you get the child tax credits too? If not - apply for them - that certainly shows you have "residency" if you are awarded these. Or is the Mother still claiming them? You might need to ask the Mother to write to them formally saying daughter lives with you and you will now be applying for the tax credits. If she does that, ask for a copy of her letter for admin purposes. You then have it in writing from her that daughter lives with you.

Technically you shouldn't need a court order. But if the Mother ever did just keep her it would be hard to claim "abduction" without a court order showing daughter lives with you. If you aren't entitled to child tax credits due to income level, make an application anyway just so you have documentation.
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#6
(03-05-2018, 05:34 PM)will.edward Wrote:
(03-05-2018, 05:23 PM)marwood Wrote: Check with a solicitor and formulate a plan before telling her you're wanting to switch to residency. You may find that once she considers the financial implications of that, she may suddenly have a change of heart!

Thanks for replying. Just to be clear, my daughter lives with me, her mother has now started paying me child maintenance (family based arrangement) as I'm responsible for childcare bills etc.

What I'm looking to figure out is how easy it would be for her mother to simply take her back?

Without an order in place, she could just keep her at will if she has a change of heart.

Given that you're only wanting to formalise an arrangement currently in place, could you agree a consent order with her? Then you wouldn't need to go through the whole adversarial court process.  A mediator can help with that, or you could even do it directly if you are in agreement.

Either way, getting it formalised now is insurance against future changes of heart. What happens if she breaks up with her current partner and suddenly decides she wants your kid living with her?
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#7
(03-06-2018, 01:49 PM)marwood Wrote:
(03-05-2018, 05:34 PM)will.edward Wrote:
(03-05-2018, 05:23 PM)marwood Wrote: Check with a solicitor and formulate a plan before telling her you're wanting to switch to residency. You may find that once she considers the financial implications of that, she may suddenly have a change of heart!

Thanks for replying. Just to be clear, my daughter lives with me, her mother has now started paying me child maintenance (family based arrangement) as I'm responsible for childcare bills etc.

What I'm looking to figure out is how easy it would be for her mother to simply take her back?

Without an order in place, she could just keep her at will if she has a change of heart.

Given that you're only wanting to formalise an arrangement currently in place, could you agree a consent order with her? Then you wouldn't need to go through the whole adversarial court process.  A mediator can help with that, or you could even do it directly if you are in agreement.

Either way, getting it formalised now is insurance against future changes of heart. What happens if she breaks up with her current partner and suddenly decides she wants your kid living with her?

The consent order approach is what I am trying to do.  We've gone through a very difficult negotiation exercise (with and without a mediator).  However, now the both solicitors are saying that a court is unlikely to seal the consent order because of "no order" principle.

I'll appreciate if anyone has any thoughts on this?
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#8
Hmm - I can't see why a court wouldn't seal a consent order! Because it's by consent. There is an issue with an application that the court can say "no order" if there is already one in place or whatever.
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