LEGAL EAGLE: Trying to resolve family issues

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My ex and I split up two years ago, we were married for four years and we have a five-year-old son. Once we split up my ex made it difficult for me to see my son and I have only seen him fiveor six times over the past two years, this is not enough and I want more contact. She has now told me that she is planning to move to Spain permanently and she is taking my son with her. I don’t want her to take him. I have tried to explain this to her but she won’t listen. What can I do?

There are a couple of family issues raised here. The main issue is your ex-partner and your son moving abroad. The only way your son can be removed from the UK permanently is with your consent as you have what is called ‘parental responsibility’.

As you were married to your son’s mother you automatically have parental responsibility for your son and this means that certain decisions about his life cannot be made without your consent.

You also raised an issue of contact with your son. Where children are involved in a dispute, the court encourages agreement between parents. Therefore you must try and resolve this out of court. If the issue cannot be resolved without going to court there are orders available to the court.

Your son’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration. Therefore any order made must promote your son’s welfare and a court order will not be made if your son would be in a worse position than he would without the court order.

Every person who is part of a family issue must try to resolve the issue without going to court. This can be done by asking a solicitor to write letters to the other side, parties agreeing between themselves or with the help of a mediator.

There are a number of factors to consider before going to court, for example time and cost. Resolving issues outside of court can often be quicker and less expensive. A referral to mediation will be made but if this is unsuccessful then you should consider going to court. But only after trying to resolve the issue without the courts help.

If you require advice concerning the court procedure and how to make an application to court please contact a solicitor for independent legal advice.

l Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist childcare and child abduction Solicitors that can advise on issues such as the above and other family matters. To speak to a Solicitor please ring 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk. For further information visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk.