Q: My son has lived with me since I divorced his father when he was four years old. He is now fourteen. From the beginning the arrangement was that he would stay with his father every other weekend. However, since that arrangement was made his father has moved forty miles away and my son has developed a love for sport. This is causing arguments as my son wants to play in the school teams at weekends and do various other activities with his friends that his father refuses to take him to. His father says he has a right to stick to the access rights agreed in court but I feel my son is missing out on what he enjoys and is good at and wants to do. What should I do?
A: One thing you cannot do is just block access, as this would mean you are in breach of the Order and your ex could apply for sanctions through the Family Court. Your best option is to approach your ex-partner with a view to changing the child arrangements to fit in with your son’s activities. If you don’t feel you can achieve a suitable compromise on your own then a good family lawyer can help you.
Most Child Arrangement Orders contain a clause allowing parents to agree different contact arrangements without going back to court, in which case both you and your ex-partner would need to sign a written agreement. If you cannot agree an arrangement that suits everyone, as a parent you do have an automatic right to apply to the Court for a change in the order. As your son is now fourteen, a wishes and feelings report would probably be prepared and because of his age your son’s wishes would carry much weight when the Court are considering the application.
(Article published 25/02/2017)