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New User needing advice please
#1
Hi,

Thank you for taking the time to read this thread and also in advance for any help you can offer.

Please bare with me as I set the scene...
My son had originally been taken out of the country by my ex (never married) when he was 5 to live in Dubai with her and her boyfriend, now husband. It was a difficult decision at the time as my son and I were very close, I had regular contact with him prior to this and had made every effort to be in his life as much as I could for the four years after his mother and I had split up. However, with the initial promise of them only going for a year and the threat of upsetting his mother should she not get what she wanted and her withholding contact altogether as a result, I decided to let him go, a decision I instantly regretted and have done since. Four years on, they're still there but now without my consent, I've tried to see him as often as I can but with Dubai not being the cheapest of places to visit it's been difficult at times for my wife and I financially, not to mention emotionally as there had often been large gaps between visits whilst recuperating from the inevitable loss in every sense, but this last year he's been flying back and forth on his own now that he's old enough although he's not keen on it.
We've attempted to keep regular 'contact' through  Skype each week, but the first couple of years were erratic due to time zones, his mother not being available etc. and recently the country banning it's use altogether...I'd just like to say from experience that if anyone thinks Skype is an acceptable form of alternative regular contact to physically being present with their child, they can't possibly be serious, try explaining to an 8 year old that their beloved grandfather passed away and they can't even attend the funeral over Skype and they'll understand (I apologise for my bitterness). The experience was made all the more difficult with their refusal to provide my wife and I with an address for him for the first three years, so we were unable to send gifts or even know where he was, their having enrolled him in a school with a new surname and him being encouraged to call her then boyfriend 'daddy' due to his mother having broken the law out there by having a child out of wedlock and it also being socially acceptable!
Since leaving my son has also experienced emotional problems, he's had to move schools a couple of times due to behavioural issues, being bullied and has been struggling with the work in general.

This week I've received an email telling me they are moving back to the UK in a couple of months, although this is great news they'll be living 4 1/2 hours away from us and unfortunately we can't move due to many reasons. As you can imagine I want to get some kind of contact order in place and also some kind of control over whether or not they are able to take him out of the country for extended periods of time again, I'm after any and all advice anyone can offer regarding how I can go about this please? They've also enrolled him in a school but I'd have liked to have at least been included in the process, would that be something a judge can stipulate?

Thanks again for your help.
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#2
You on birth certificate?

If so, try to discuss with her how it could work (every other weekend etc ... many options),
If she creates problems get a lawyer (dont need one but will help especially as you need to formalize things and she may not want to )
Apply to court for contact
Keep evidence that you are actively in his life as it will help establish regular contact
"Being a good father, for its own sake, does not require your ex to see it or agree"
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#3
Does she communicate with you much? Ie would she agree/negotiate a contact schedule? What do you think of the school they've chosen? If it's a good school then it might not be worth going to court over (if she won't agree to discuss schools or consider alternative options it would mean a specific issues order and the Judge deciding). I know the worst bit is when you're not consulted even but some battles aren't worth fighting unless you particularly don't want that school.

Four and a half hours is some distance (ironically I know) even for week-ends. You would probably be looking at holiday periods or possibly every other week-end, but it's a lot of travelling. Is it any quicker on the train?

In terms of applying to court - I can understand why you'd want an order for contact after what happened before - but applying to court may cause hostility. I'd suggest if you can agree arrangements between you at least for now that might be better. Then if and when you do apply for a contact order you can show what the regular pattern has been and have a good chance of getting what you want in an order. Once he's at a Uk school then you still have equal parental responsibility - including educational matters. So one thing you could do is write to the school confirming that, and asking them to keep you informed directly on reports, newsletters etc and also confirm that you need to be notified of any change of schooling.

That way you would get some warning if she was thinking of leaving, by hearing about notice being given at school, and could apply for a prohibited steps order. It wouldn't necessarily stop her leaving the country though - it depends how long they are back as to how successful that might be. But yes having an order in place would have things formalised if she did leave the country again - but it would have to be varied anyway if she was allowed to go back.

How old is your son now? If you did apply to court you need to have mediation first. A court order would state that the parent with residence could take the child out of the country for up to a month. If they want to do it for longer they would need court permission and/or permission of the other parent.

Tricky - you want an order but you don't want to fall out with her and have difficulties in getting contact. From her point of view she is doing what she wants when she wants and doesn't have much incentive to agree to a consent order. But - if she did agree to go to mediation to discuss arrangements, anything you agree can be put into a consent order (less adversarial than going through the court process) which is sealed by the court. Providing she agrees to a consent order.
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