Senior Director at Carr & Co Solicitors Valerie Wormald answers your legal questions. Today we have a question from a father who is worried that his wife is going to move his son away.
I split up with my wife last year and have been visiting my son three times a week ever since I moved out of the family home. Now my wife has met a new partner and wants to move down south with him, taking our son with them. What can I do to stop them? We have not been through the courts regarding our current visiting arrangement and I do not want make things messy for my son’s sake.
Steve, Ilford Road
In a case such as this it is important for all parties to understand that any decisions concerning your son should be in his best interests and that your son’s welfare is of paramount consideration to you both and ultimately the court. I am unsure how old your son is but if he is old enough to express his own wishes and feelings then this must be considered by all parties.
You say that you do not want things to get messy for your son’s sake and this is very important. If you can discuss with your wife her plans for the future then it is always better to try and resolve issues amicably without the need to apply to the Court. You could consider attending mediation in an attempt to resolve any issues, especially if the ‘move’ is not imminent.
It is important that if your son is at school or has certain health needs that need to be met then your wife should ensure that any move does not have a detrimental impact on him. Such a move should be appropriately planned for your son’s sake.
If your son is not quite old enough to have a voice in a situation like this then you must look at why you would want to stop them from moving. If it is simply due to you being worried about not seeing your son as much as you currently do, then this could be alleviated by having more generous amounts of time with him at weekends and in the holidays.
If you have concerns regarding your son’s move that you feel need to be addressed before your wife moves and she refuses to communicate with you, then there is a possibility that you could apply to the court for a Prohibited Steps Order, which is a type of Injunction to prevent them from leaving. The Court would have to consider what is in your son’s best interests and it is likely that they would only order this for a short period and until your wife has addressed your concerns or the Court decides that she may move. I would advise however, that this should only be considered as a last resort and depends upon your circumstances.
If you are unable to reach an agreement then I would urge you to see a specialist family solicitor who will be able to advise you on an appropriate course of action tailored to your specific circumstances.