Shared parenting & moving house

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stressedandtired
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Shared parenting & moving house

Postby stressedandtired » Fri May 01, 2020 9:33 pm

Hi,

I have a 9yr old with an ex who left me before our daughter was born. He remains engaged (alternate weekends, 1 night during week). At the time of the birth, we both purchased new properties a couple of miles apart. (Weren't married; no financial settlement)

He is financially very comfortable.  I was in a well-paid, full-on career, but it wasn't viable to return to that as a single parent to commute whilst responsible for pick-ups and drop-offs 4 days a week, which has significantly reduced my earning power.  Since then, I met someone else (who works hard in a field he's passionate about, but doesn't earn much) and had a second child. We are all in the original home I bought, which is now far too small. Long before covid arrived, we'd been planning to move as soon as practicable. With everyone in the house all day, whilst we both do our best to work, it's even more challenging. (Ex has refused to take child whilst he works from home; from the start childcare during the working week has been my problem)

We can't afford a significantly larger property without moving out a bit. I know my ex will lose the plot even if I tell him I'm moving just a 10min drive further out - He has always been incredibly controlling. I  fully appreciate that were I to move out to Somerset with our child I'd be on legally shaky ground, and have absolutely no intention of that...But just how far would be 'reasonable'? - If I announce I'm moving to a new home that's half an hour's drive further away, can he do anything? (It'll be a bit more inconvenient for him, but hardly catastrophic) - Lockdown is making me realise I want something a tad more spacious and greener than the 10minute option and as far as I'm concerned, this is a 'forever' move.  I want the home an environment that's best for my new family & don't feel I should have to compromise for the ex! (NB - Goes without saying, schools will be a big factor in move & I'll make sure they're 'no worse' than where we are now)

Where do I stand, legally? What would be considered 'reasonable'?
Thanks,
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jackiecaterer
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Re: Shared parenting & moving house

Postby jackiecaterer » Mon May 04, 2020 7:47 am

really not sure about the legalities of this but cannot see you moving to be a problem at all. My husband’s ex wife has moved 5 times in 3 different counties since they split 9 years ago (now in Wilts but she was in Yorkshirefor some time). My stepson changed schools 3 times before he was 7! The ex didn’t give a damn about the extra hassle with access and visitation as she had main parental responsibility, which you have too by the sounds of it. You also sound very reasonable and considerate. I don’t imagine and family court/CAFCASS would see an issue with a family needing more space and room to breathe. Good luck and go for it!
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Janet14
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Re: Shared parenting & moving house

Postby Janet14 » Mon May 04, 2020 8:05 am

Yes pretty sure there are no laws re where you can move when there’s shared parenting especially when you are the main caregiver
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EmmaTVEdwards
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Re: Shared parenting & moving house

Postby EmmaTVEdwards » Mon May 04, 2020 11:20 am

Hi @stressedandtired

I specialise in family law and would need further info to give you a really clear steer. Generally though, if you are not proposing a change to contact arrangements as a result of your move, then where you live is not something your ex can control. It's completely reasonable to want more space. I'd be a bit more careful on the schooling front though: if he has parental responsibility (ie if his name was on the birth certificate or you have a written agreement giving it to him) then he is entitled to be consulted about school choice and you shouldn't make a unilateral change.

Hope that helps as a starting point.
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stressedandtired
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Re: Shared parenting & moving house

Postby stressedandtired » Mon May 04, 2020 12:10 pm

Many thanks to all. Generally encouraging. Re: schools. Yes he has parental responsibility & I have no issue at all with him having a say in the available options once moved. But what I'm less clear on is whether he would therefore be entitled to prevent my moving to a new area which would require a change of school? 

(Given the reality of living in/around London with tiny catchments, if he were able to block any change of school, then there's effectively zero leeway to move to a larger home)

Equally I don't want to get into negotiations around where I need his permission to move to the new neighbourhood of my choice, on the basis of his perception of the suitability of local schooling.  He will find an objection against everything and I'll end up 'stuck' in an unsuitable home forever.
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EverHopeful
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Re: Shared parenting & moving house

Postby EverHopeful » Mon May 04, 2020 1:11 pm

Dear Stressedandtired,

I've just been through exactly this!  Wanting to move out of London, to Sussex, and change the kids schools.  Found great new, bigger house, in gorgeous country setting and fantastic new school for both my children.  Both really excited about it.  But ex screwed it up for us.  But only because the school didn't want to get involved 'with family matters', not because he legally could.  We ended up having to stay in London (for the moment) because we were too close to the start of term to get anything sorted out with another school fast enough.   (We also weren't married, financial settlement was me giving him a lot of money!, and he then married someone else, who turned out to be extremely toxic, horrendous to my children, and they are now divorced!)

So -
if you have no court order - regardless of him having parental responsibility, you can move wherever you like - to Scotland if you wanted.    So where you live - no problem.  

Re - contact - again, if there is no court order - you can switch up the contact arrangements.
If there is a court order re contact, then the moving out needs to allow for the same - or very close to same - contact arrangements.  e.g. my ex was going to lose an hour of contact on Wednesdays.  A court would most likely have ruled that that was not enough of an impediment to stop the move, particulary as the move had so many benefits for the children in comparison to staying in London.

Re schools - yes, with PR he has a say - but not if your child is going to state school -
because wherever you move to, your child gets 'allocated' a place by the local council.  Then he, as you, have to just accept that place.  If he didn't agree with sending your child to that allocated school that you like and kicked up a fuss with the council, not giving his permission, my understanding is, that they can't /won't do anything about it - they are obligated to provide your child with an education, they fulfil that by offering the place, from there, they don't get involved.   But if you don't like that local state and push it with the council, surely he'd agree with you, trusting you, not liking the one allocated anyway.  And if you didn't like it and pushed for a change with the council, but he wanted to be difficult or liked the original one allocated, then it would be tricky.  But I imagine if you move out of London, you'll also consider the local state schools where you want to live, so will move to somewhere where you're most likely to get allocated the school you want anyway, so hopefully this wouldn't be an issue.

BUT - if you're looking at private schools, the hiccup will come because the private school will require both parents to sign the parental contract - which, amongst other things, gives parental permission for the child to attend the school.   EVEN though, it is not a legal requirement for any private school to have the permission of both parents, they will say it is and will push it and push it and push it, asserting their presumed illegitimate authority, assuming you don't know the law.  You can push back on that, but most likely won't get anywhere, they'll dig their heels in and won't care about the illegality of it and you'd end up having to take them to court to accept your child and that's obviously not going to make for a good relationship with the school, so it's kind of a non starter anyway. 

I know all this, because I've been through exactly all this - I've had my ex block 5 schools!!  And had all the schools say 'don't want to get involved in family matters', washing their hands of us, not interested.  BUT - how I eventually got round it, very tricky, was getting offers in hand with the 2 schools the children are currently at.  Before having offers in hand, the school will block the child even taking the assessment, which they can do.   With offers in hand, it's a different thing, they've entered into a legal contract, they're not in a position to withdraw the offer just because they don't like 'getting involved in (bad) family matters'.   So you'd have to have your child sit the assessment without your ex knowing.   Which, whatever your moral stance on that, you can legally do.  Though if it did then go to court, it would be frowned on that you didn't involve your ex in a parental resonsibility issue, so you'd be 'told off' and other issues may be tainted in the light of this - but by then it would be a fait accompli.  

With my first, I had to threaten the school and they ended up accepting my child without my ex's permission and with the second child, I did end up having to take it to court!   And yes, both situations were worth it because, certainly the one child, is at an absolutely outstanding school now.  The most important thing is what's best for the child, always.  And sometimes that is - bigger house, bigger garden, cleaner air, better school set up v's slightly (hopefully) less time with one parent.

And 'Ex has refused to take child whilst he works from home' - will be a little mark against him if it went to court.   Because he's not pulling his weight / taking his responsibility / spending time with the child, so that would weigh the odds for you.  Remember all these little things.  But I'm obviously hugely hoping it's not a litiginous situation for you and goes smoothly.    Also - get your ducks in order - do all the research - on everything - schools, houses, how your child would travel between you and your ex - car, - which one of you is driving, train? - which one of you is taking?  - all journey times, etc, etc.  And get as far down the road with your plans as you can before telling him.  I'm not saying this to be sneaky with him, though obviously it is, but because he's a controller and you are being totally reasonable with what you want to do and your considerations, so this is probably the only way of dealing with him. 

Tonnes of luck.  Happy to talk / msg it through with you privately.
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