A CHILD RESIDENCE STATEMENT
∑ Child residence or "custody" means who your children will live with after divorce or separation.†
∑ You may be asked by a judge to make a written Child Residence Statement about where your children will live if there is a divorce.† You will be able to say how long you need to write it.†††††††††††††††††††††† Allow yourself several weeks.
∑ If you are not asked to produce a Statement, you can still say that you want to write one.† You do not need anyone's permission to do this.
∑ If possible, type your Statement, or write it neatly by hand.
IT HELPS TO WRITE IT DOWN
∑ Unless you are a very fluent speaker, it is easier to write down what you want for your children than to say it for the first time when you get to the court.† You can send a copy to the court well before the hearing at which the judge is going to decide where your children will live.
∑ Copy your Statement to your solicitor and your wife's solicitor.
∑ On your own copy of the Statement, use a high-lighter pen to mark all the main points you want to make at the court hearing.† You can then use your written Statement to remind you what to say when you speak to the judge.† Ask him to confirm that he has already read your Statement.
∑ See the example on the next page.
Between†††††††††††††††††††† FIONA†††††††††† DICKENS††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Petitioner
And†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ROBIN††††††††† DICKENS††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Respondent
RESPONDENTíS STATEMENT ON CHILD RESIDENCE
1.† This is a statement of my proposals and concerns about the future of our children should my wife, Fiona, obtain a divorce.† I have written this statement on the assumption that the Judge has already read my Answer to my wifeís divorce Petition.† That document describes in detail my wifeís irresponsible behaviour and matters relating to our childrenís welfare.
2.† What I want to say here is that both our children should be allowed to decide for themselves which parent to live with if there is a divorce.† If, after the divorce, either of the children finds that he has made a mistake, and wishes to change to the other parent, he should be able to do so without interference.† The childrenís wishes may not be the Courtís only consideration, but this should be the main factor.
3.† Our 2 children are :† Simon 13 and Thomas 11.† Both are sufficiently mature to have thought carefully about whom they would want to live with in the future.† However, my wife has never been willing to spend as much time with the children as they need, her career and social life have always come first.† If either of the boys goes to live with her, it should be under a joint custody order.† I will also ask that he be put on the Child Protection Register for close monitoring by the Social Services.
4.† Simon is now 13 years old.† Although an intelligent boy, he has suffered from asthma since he was a baby and will inevitably be badly affected by his motherís plans to break up his family.† Nevertheless, he is fully able to make a decision about which of his parents he should live with in future.
5.† Simon is very fond of both his parents and he says that he could live with either.† If he goes with his mother initially, then it should be under a joint custody order. †This would allow him to move to his father if he found life with her was too difficult.† I am concerned that the trauma that his mother's divorce proceedings are causing him will make his asthma worse and permanently affect his school work.
6.† Thomas is 11 and,
although younger than his brother, is in some ways the more mature of the
two.† His judgement on most things is
grown up, he is consistent in his views and can be
relied on to give a sensible opinion on most things.† On a boating holiday in
7.† Thomas has said repeatedly that he does not like his mother's new boy friend.† He first heard of her intention to break up our family in April.† Without prompting, he came to me in May and said ďIf you and Mum get divorced, can I live with you† -† not just at weekends but all the time?Ē.† Since then he has been consistent that he would live with his father and not join his mother's new household.†
8.† When Thomas went
to the London Family Court on
9.† The only reasonable solution therefore is that Thomas should live with me if there is a divorce.† He would be free to see his mother as frequently as he wishes.† Should he change his mind about whom he wants to live with, I would not object to an immediate move.
10.† In my Answer to the divorce Petition, I expressed concerns about our children living with my wife after a divorce.† I do not like her new boyfriend and do not think that he is a suitable man to have care of my children.† It is significant that it is our younger child who has taken a strong dislike to him and has said repeatedly that he wants to live with his father.
11.† Fiona readily admits that she has a fierce temper.† She clearly understands at present, that with divorce proceedings, it is strongly in her interest to behave calmly at all times.† This constraint will not be there after a divorce.† Without my presence to absorb her anger, one or more of the boys might become her target.†††
12.† Despite the present incentive for behaving responsibly, Fiona has shown that she is more interested in her own social life than in the boys' welfare.† When I went away on business for 3 nights recently, my sons told me on my return that their mother had stayed out every night until after , leaving them alone.† I am afraid that incidents like this will become frequent if my wife gets a divorce.†††
13.† I am well able to care for and support my sons financially.† I have flexible working hours and am accustomed to looking after them.† There is a strong bond between me and my boys.† Their aunt (my sister), who lives close by, has also offered to help.† I intend to live within reach of their school.† (Fiona has given no undertaking about where she will live but has indicated that she is thinking of going back to Derbyshire where she was born.† It worries Simon that he may be uprooted from his school where he has only just become settled.)†††
14.† Both boys are able to make a clear judgement about whom they want to live with.† They have very different personalities and interests and, although they must have frequent contact, it is not essential that they be constantly together.† Simon has not yet made up his mind who he would prefer to live with, whereas his younger brother is determined to live with me.† In any event, either may decide with his feet where to go.††
15.† The boys have lived with their motherís irresponsible behaviour for many years and it may be in their best interests that they now have more stable surroundings.† It is also probably true that the boys have reached an age when they have the greatest need of a father.† Should the Court decide that it is in the boysí best interests, I would of course be happy to make a home for both of them.
Signed :††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Date :††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††
Copied to wife's solicitor.