Q: My former partner is a really good dad to our two children but our break-up was vitriolic and he’s always resented the children living with me. He’s had them every other weekend since we split but last time they visited he asked if they could stay for two weeks while he was on leave from work. I agreed, but at the end of the fortnight he wouldn’t bring them home. I know the children love being with him but I want them living with me and I don’t know what to do.
A. Much depends on whether your former partner has Parental Responsibility (PR) for the children. If both you and their father were present at the registration and his name appears on the birth certificates then he has PR. If this is the case you must apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order and ask the Court to make an Order that the children live with you.
Since 2014 it has been a requirement to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) prior to making an application to the Court. If mediation fails, the Court may decide that the children should be returned to your care.
Every case has different circumstances however and the Court may make an Order that the children live with their father. If they are old enough to have their wishes and feelings heard, a Court Reporter may interview them and prepare a report for the Court. If throughout the proceedings agreement cannot be reached, the Court will make a decision based on all the circumstances of the case and by applying the welfare checklist set out in the Children Act 1989. If you are at all unsure about your position you should seek advice from a family solicitor.